Rice is a staple in many Indian states and is also one of the most loved and comforting everyday foods. It is consumed for breakfast, lunch, as well as dinner with various gravies and curries. However, when on a mission to lose weight, many people — more often than not — give up rice fearing that consuming it would lead to excess calorie intake. However, when eaten in moderation, it can actually be a good option to include in your diet. That is exactly what Mac Singh, a nutritionist, stated in an Instagram post as he shared the various health benefits of rice, and also compared it to oats — a cereal grain loved by many.

Health benefits of rice

Below are some health benefits of rice, as shared by Singh.

1. Easy to digest: As rice is easy to digest, it is great for boosting the metabolic rate, which accelerates the weight loss process.
2. Low in fat: 100 gm of uncooked rice has just 0.6 gm fat. Ironically, it has less fat than the so-called healthy grains like oats and quinoa, which people consume for weight loss.
3. It’s gluten-free: Yes, you read it right. We buy expensive gluten-free bread and flour, but we ignore our very own desi rice, which is gluten-free too.
4. Rich nutrition: Rice is rich in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B and magnesium, to name a few. 100 gm of rice contains 7 gm of protein. Studies have shown that rice protein might also help to reduce blood pressure and blood fats.
5. White rice does not contain an anti-nutritional factor. Unlike other grains, this one contains phytic acid which reduces the absorption of certain minerals like calcium, iron, and zinc in the body.

Nutritional profile of rice and oats

Rica and oats have different nutritional values. Breaking them down, Sameena Ansari – Senior Dietitian and Nutritionist, CARE Hospitals, Hi-Tec City, Hyderabad told indianexpress.com, “The nutritional profile of instant oats varies depending on the brand and serving size, but in general, a ½ cup serving of dry instant oats contains around 150-170 calories, 3-4 grams of fiber, 4-5 grams of protein, and 27-30 grams of carbohydrates, including 1-2 grams of sugar”.

Rice, on the other hand, also has varying nutritional profiles depending on the type of rice and serving size, she continued. “For example, a ½ cup serving of cooked white rice contains around 100-110 calories, 0.5 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein, and 23-25 grams of carbohydrates, including 0.5-1 gram of sugar. Brown rice is slightly more nutrient-dense and contains more fiber, protein, and vitamins,” she said.

A bowl of rice can have lower calories than oats. (Pic source: Pexels) A bowl of rice has lower calories than a bowl of oats. (Pic source: Pexels)

Why is rice, usually, not a part of diet plans?

According to Ansari, rice can be a part of a healthy diet plan when consumed in moderation and paired with other nutrient-dense foods. She added that it is, however, not a part of diet plans because “rice is primarily composed of carbohydrates, specifically starch. It can cause blood sugar spikes and insulin resistance, especially in people with diabetes or those with insulin resistance”.

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What about oats?

Decoding why oats, on the other hand, are part of diet plans, Ansari said, “Oats are considered healthy because they are a good source of fiber, specifically beta-glucan, which has been shown to lower cholesterol levels and improve heart health. They are also low in sugar and contain a range of vitamins and minerals. Oats are often part of diet plans, especially breakfast, because they can help keep you full and satisfied throughout the morning, which can help prevent overeating and snacking on unhealthy foods”.

In general, incorporating whole grains like oats and brown rice into your diet can provide numerous health benefits. “But it’s essential to keep portion sizes in check and pair them with other nutrient-dense foods,” concluded Ansari.

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