Kerala is home to a number of speciality rice varieties such as Pokkali, a saltwater-tolerant organic rice having medicinal properties and special taste; Jeerakasala and Gandhakasala (scented rice varieties); Black Njavara and Golden Njavara (medicinal rice varieties extensively used in the Ayurveda). A recent study conducted on these diverse varieties of Kerala has found that these speciality varieties are abundant and vital source of nutrition.
The rice samples were compared for grain size and shape (which determines consumer preference and commercial success), carbohydrate content (which affects overall pastiness after cooking and eating), gelatinization temperature (affects cooking temperature of rice), content of protein (required for growth and development), fibre (reduces risk of bowel disorders and fights constipation), minerals (required for various body functions) and moisture (affects rice quality especially shelf life).
It was found that that Pokkali rice has all the desired qualities including nutritional values. It was rated among the best in terms of fibre and protein content, antioxidants with benefits of vitamin E, and minerals such as iron, boron and sulphur. It had the lowest carbohydrate content along with Gandhakasala making it most suitable for persons with diabetes or those advised low-sugar diet.
Researchers also point out that rice milling, done for polishing rice grain, involves discarding bran or brown outer layer of rice kernel which has considerable nutritional value and health benefits. Processed rice is deficient in many minerals such as potassium (maintains blood pressure), phosphorus (for strong bones and dental health), manganese (required for various chemical processes in the body) and sulphur (main constituents of proteins in human body).
Besides, rice bran is also important having high fibre content, consists of various antioxidants with similar benefits as vitamin E. It helps lower cholesterol levels and also protects and fights infections. The rice bran oil extracted from varieties of rice considered in the study were found to be a good substitute for groundnut oil in supplying fatty acids besides being more economical. The study was first published in journal Current Science.
(Source: India Science Wire)