There are a few things you should keep in mind if you are looking to add basmati rice as a staple food to your diet. In comparison to other types of rice, it can provide a number of health benefits due to its nutrient content. However, this comes with limitations. It can be a healthy carb source in the diet, but should always be eaten as part of a balanced diet that includes foods from all food groups in the right amounts.
Basmati rice basics: What is it?
Basmati rice is a style of long-grain rice that is primarily grown and distributed from India and Pakistan. It is recognized as being fragrant, having a smell that is distinct from other types of rice. You can purchase either white or brown basmati rice and can be prepared by boiling or steaming it.
How to prepare it
Jenn Segal’s blog post provides a great recipe for making basmati rice. A helpful tip to consider is to wash the rice to remove any starch, as this will prevent the grains from sticking to one another. A suggestion is to place the rice in a bowl and soak it in water, as this will create a cloudy residue from the starch. Remove the water and repeat until the water runs clear.
How white and brown basmati rice compare
Brown rice is more nutritious because it contains the bran, germ, and endosperm which provides a source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, fats, protein, and carbohydrates. White rice is processed, and this processing strips away the bran and germ from the grain. This leaves behind the endosperm which is composed of mostly carbohydrates and minimal protein.
White rice is considered a refined grain and is digested more quickly compared to brown rice. This can cause your blood sugar to spike and drop in a short amount of time, leaving you hungry again. It can also cause you to overeat because you’re not able to sustain a sense of fullness.
Nutrition Content for 1 cup of cooked white basmati rice
- Calories: 210 kcal
- Carbohydrates: 46 grams
- Protein: 5 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Dietary fiber: 1 gram
- Calcium: 20 milligrams
- Potassium: 60 milligrams
Potential benefits as part of the diet
It’s good to generally be aware of high and low glycemic foods when planning your diet, as different foods affect blood sugar levels differently, which in turn affects health. Luckily, brown basmati rice is lower on the glycemic index compared to other types of rice, with a glycemic index between 50-58. Therefore, basmati rice would be a good alternative to other types of rice. It is digested more slowly and allows one to feel a sense of fullness for a longer period of time. However, rice still has a higher glycemic index compared to other carb sources such as the majority of fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts.
There are several nutritional benefits as well. It is a good source of dietary fiber. There are 4 grams of dietary fiber in ¼ cup of uncooked brown basmati rice and 5 grams of protein.
Intake of whole grains, like brown basmati rice, has been correlated to a decrease in risk of heart disease, blood cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure. They contain nutrients such as B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Potential drawbacks as part of the diet
Although there are benefits to incorporating rice into your diet, there are drawbacks as well. An important thing to keep in mind is the amount of carbohydrates in a serving. For example, there are 40 grams of carbohydrates in ¼ cup of uncooked brown basmati rice. This equates to around ¾ – 1 cup of cooked rice or around 1 ½ – 2 servings.
It’s important to be mindful of serving sizes because it is so easy to overeat. A serving size of cooked rice is ½ cup, which is much smaller than what you typically get in restaurants. Therefore, it would be helpful to try to portion control your dishes in restaurants and consider measuring out your rice when preparing your dishes at home. Consumption of too many simple carbohydrates, such as white rice, can increase one’s risk for weight gain, diabetes and heart disease.
Another thing to consider is the presence of arsenic in rice. Arsenic is naturally found in the environment. The toxic form, inorganic arsenic, can be found in rocks, soil, and water. Rice crops are more susceptible to accumulating arsenic compared to other types of food.
There are a few things you can do to help prevent potential high levels of arsenic. Make sure to rinse your rice prior to cooking, as this will wash away the starch and any potential arsenic. Oftentimes, white rice is fortified with nutrients and washing it will result in rinsing away these added nutrients as well, which is a potential downside of rinsing rice. Cooking rice in water that is low in arsenic is another precautionary measure to be aware of.
If you want to add basmati rice to your normal diet, then there are a few things that you want to take into consideration.
First, it has a lower glycemic index compared to most other types of rice. Therefore, it may be a better option for diabetics.
Second, brown basmati rice has more dietary fiber, protein, and various vitamins and minerals that are not present in white basmati rice. Therefore, try to purchase brown basmati rice if you have the option.
Third, you want to consider portion sizes and measure out your rice. This can prevent overeating calories, and consuming a high amount of carbohydrates.
Fourth, eat rice in moderation. Although it can provide nutritional benefits, it may have high arsenic levels. Remember to wash and soak your rice in low-arsenic drinking water to help remove as much as possible before preparation.
I would love to hear about some of your favorite dishes to mix with basmati rice! Comment below.