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White Rice: The Good and the Bad

Rice. It is Asia’s staple diet. Almost every Asian country will have it’s own speciality of  making this staple as scrumptious and delectable to the palates of  it’s inhabitants.

Nasi Lemak – a traditional Malaysian favourite . Freshly cooked coconut rice with sweet and spicy sambal, ikan bilis,  peanuts, cucumber and a boiled egg at breakfast is enough to make any Malaysian salivate.

Lunch and dinner too consist of mainly rice with some veg and a choice of fish or meat.  Too much rice can spell trouble nowadays, especially if you’re having it daily.

The driving factor behind Asia’s rise in type 2 diabetes.

A 2012 study by Harvard researchers found that the risk of developing diabetes rises by 10% with every extra serving per day of white rice.

The study compared how people in Japan and China and those in Australia and the United States consumed rice. The findings showed that people in Japan and China on average had three or four servings of white rice a day,  more than their Western counterparts who ate on average less than five servings a week.

Given these patterns, we Asians are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as mentioned in Star2.

The good and the bad..

Advantages and disadvantages provided by Heathy Diet Base.

The Good: 

  • Great source of energy

White rice is rich in simple carbohydrates. Unlike complex carbohydrates, simple carbohydrates are quickly converted into energy by the body. The carbohydrates in white rice helps to energize the body and boosts the organs’ metabolic activities.

  • Zero cholesterol

White rice does not contain harmful fats that could cause heart disease. It contains zero cholesterol and sodium. Food that is low in fat and cholesterol cuts the risk of  heart disease.

  • Low in sodium

Because white rice is low in sodium (salt), it would not worsen the condition of those who have hypertension or high blood pressure. Sodium causes the arteries and veins to tighten, limiting blood flow. And when this occurs, the heart works extra hard to pump blood all over the body. As the heart works harder, pressure builds up in the veins, causing damage to the arterial wall. Eventually, increased blood pressure could lead to atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.

The Bad:

  • Contains Simple Carbohydrates

Did you know a 100 gram serving of white rice is equivalent to 86 grams of sugar? White rice is composed mainly of simple carbs, which is the bad kind of carbohydrates. Although white rice offers quick energy, it spikes up blood sugar levels in the body. This triggers sugar crashes, leading to overeating. Simple carbs are also linked to obesity.

  • Over processed

Health experts have always warned the public on the dangers of processed food. White rice no longer contains beneficial nutrients as its husk, bran, and germ are removed. Essentially, the grains are made up sugar. Unlike brown or black rice, white rice is rich in empty calories. And eating a lot of rice could lead to chronic diseases, including diabetes and obesity.

  • May cause digestive problems

White rice has sticky starch, this makes it harder to digest leading to digestive discomforts, tiredness, and indigestion. It is low in dietary fibre – an essential nutrient that aids digestion and prevents heart disease.  It also lacks essential nutrients to a point where it disturbs body processes.

Brown rice is healthier than white rice

How to keep it healthy

  • Reduce the portions and number of servings consumed daily as proposed by the findings. Try brown rice instead.
  • Consume white rice during the day as it is made up of simple carbohydrates that is easily digested during this time as our metabolic rate is at its’ peak.
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