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Are Brown, Red, Black, and Riceberry Varieties Really a Healthier Choice?

Rice, a global staple with over 40,000 cultivated varieties, includes nutrient-rich options like brown, black, and red rice, along with emerging varieties like Riceberry, offering diverse flavours and health benefits.

Shivangi Rai
Some rice varieties are known by their colour, for example, red or black rice. (Image Courtesy- Freepik)
Some rice varieties are known by their colour, for example, red or black rice. (Image Courtesy- Freepik)

Rice, an essential global food staple, nourishes over half the world's population. Its extraordinary diversity, with over 40,000 cultivated varieties, showcases its adaptability.

Rice is the edible starchy kernel of a grass plant, primarily belonging to the species Oryza sativa. Its varieties are distinguished by grain length, shape, and colour, each offering unique flavours, textures, and nutrient properties.

Brown Rice: A Whole Grain

Brown rice, primarily grown in India, Pakistan, and Thailand, is a whole grain with only the inedible outer hull removed. It retains the bran and germ, giving it a tan colour and a high fiber content. Brown rice offers more nutrients than white rice, including dietary fiber, magnesium, iron, zinc, and B-group vitamins.

Black Rice: A Nutrient-Rich Wonder

Black rice, also known as purple rice, is high in anthocyanins, the same antioxidants found in superfoods like blueberries and blackberries. It comes in various variants like japonica black rice and Chinese black rice, offering unique flavours and high fiber content. Some consider it one of the healthiest choices for heart health and metabolic diseases.

Red Rice: An Iron-Rich Variety

Red rice, or Oryza rufipogon, is a medium or long-grain variety coloured with anthocyanin content. It grows alongside other rice varieties, primarily in Asia and Northern Australia. It contains more iron and zinc compared to white, black, or brown rice.

Riceberry: A Hybrid Variety

Riceberry rice, developed in Thailand, is a hybrid of local jasmine and purple rice. It has a favourable nutrient profile, shorter cooking time, and a light purple colour, making it increasingly popular among Asian grocers.

Thus, rice isn't just a source of carbohydrates. It offers essential vitamins and minerals, including folic acid, magnesium, iron, and zinc.

Furthermore, it's naturally gluten-free, suitable for those with celiac disease.

Different rice cultivars have varying glycemic indexes, which measure how quickly carbohydrates affect blood sugar levels.

Generally, more colourful rice varieties have a lower GI, an important consideration for individuals with diabetes.

While less common rice varieties offer nutritional benefits due to their anthocyanin and fiber content, they can be harder to find and pricier than more common white and brown rice.

All rice varieties have a place in a balanced diet, offering distinct flavours, textures, and nutrients. Experimenting with different rice types can introduce unique elements to your meals and the diversity of rice varieties, from brown and red to black and Riceberry, offers unique health benefits and flavours, making them valuable choices for a well-rounded, nutritious diet.

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