Rice dishes are among the commonest consumed dishes the world over. Our country cannot be left out of this state of affairs.
A lot of people eat rice. Actually, there are people who can eat rice water (rice porridge) in the morning, boiled plain rice in the afternoon and rice balls in the evening.
They are just fine going that way.
Rice being a cereal is a rich source of carbohydrates, a major energy provider to the human body.
It also has a little protein and other nutrients. In fact much more protein compared to the traditional carbohydrate source foods like cassava, plantain, yam, among others.
Eating rice as rice water (rice porridge) is a good way to load up on energy.
This is a good breakfast as well. It is not complete if eaten with only sugar.
There surely must be some milk and or roasted groundnut added.
Boiled rice eaten with stew or soup is also a good combination.
This of course is not complete without a protein source, stew or soup.
It is a fact that most rice eaters will choose white rice over brown rice.
The white rice is also known as polished rice and the brown rice is also known as unpolished rice.
The polished rice is touted as delicious and easy to eat while the unpolished rice is seen as hard to eat and not delicious.
Polished and unpolished rice both contain starch almost to the same level.
After consumption, rice will be digested. Like any other starchy food, rice becomes glucose after digestion.
In the small intestines, the glucose gets absorbed into the blood stream.
It must be taken from the blood and passed onto cells for conversion into energy.
This is the point at which the starch or food becomes useful to the body.
Whereas there is a wholesale absorption of glucose that results from the digestion of polished rice, the case is a bit different when it comes to the unpolished one.
Due to the presence of the outer covering in the unpolished rice, some of the glucose escapes absorption.
The chaff carries them along into the large intestine and then into the rectum, later bringing them out as in faeces.
Unpolished rice also stays longer in the stomach before eventually being emptied into the small intestines for digestion to proceed.
This is the reason why consumers of unpolished rice do not feel hungry soon after eating. It helps control hunger thereby preventing overeating.
It is therefore likely to have blood sugar levels controlled better after consuming rice in the unpolished state. This is good news for all diabetics and anyone who wants to prevent diabetes as well.
Since digestion and absorption rates are lower for the unpolished rice, the rate of increase in blood glucose is also lower.
You will agree with me that it takes longer to chew the unpolished rice compared to the polished one.
The advantage this offers is the inability to overeat due to the fatigue of chewing.
The unpolished rice with its properties also supports weight loss.
After eating this food, the temptation to take drinks or eat pastries as snacks soon afterwards will be reduced to the barest minimum.
There will also not be too much glucose so the body thinks of storing some as fat.
The body stores excess sugar as fat that is why anyone who eats more starchy foods than their body uses will gain weight.
Rice lovers should also eat their rice with stews made from leafy vegetables.
Also eat rice in reasonable quantities. Eating rice late at night is also not advisable.
This only makes you load up on energy which does not get used up as you will be sleeping.
There are people who are addicted to the polished rice and therefore believe they cannot switch to the unpolished one. This does not have to be the case.
I believe that with a little effort, everyone can eat the unpolished rice.
You can start by mixing the polished and the unpolished rice and then eventually feed on the unpolished rice fully. Try preparing porridge from the brown (unpolished rice) and you will like it.
It is also a good idea to mix polished rice and wheat.
I wish to also put it across that there are some types of rice that looks brown but are not unpolished rice. Some are just coloured brown. Such types change colour after they are washed in water.
The right types have some chaff around them that give them the characteristic brown colour.
These types will taste differently from the usual white or polished rice so beware.
As you enjoy your rice dish, do so with your health and well-being in mind.
Eat well, stay healthy. God bless you.
• The writer is a dietician and author of “Answers for your diet”, “Eating to prevent and manage lifestyle diseases” and “LIVE LONG by eating well” (Out soon) Contact 0244090262 for copies.