Rice is such an integral part of life for most people, but for Asians it is a basic necessity. A Japanese proverb says, ” A meal without rice is no meal.” In other Asian languages, rice is translated to mean, “food”, and “eating.” A great many of Asian children subsist on eating just rice alone, and this is mostly by choice.
Why not just rice?
Nutritionally, rice is almost complete food. It is a complex carbohydrate – fuel or energy for our body. These complex carbohydrates are stored in muscles and are released as energy when needed. We are advised to consume more than half our calories from complex carbohydrates. Rice has no fat, cholesterol or sodium. Asians who eat rice and vegetables as their basic food and consumed no or little animal products are noted to be lean and strong, never fat or obese. Comparatively, their Western counterparts, who consume large amounts of animal products and lots of potatoes and butter, are prone to obesity. There are lesser percentages of obesity in Asian countries than the West, but the figure is steadily increasing due to additional intake of animal products and processed/fast food, or junk food.
Rice is generally non-allergenic and gluten free which is great for people with special allergy diets. More and more people now are unable to eat, or are allergic to, grains like wheat, barley, rye, oats, millet and buckwheat. Most people find rice to be easily digested. Most interesting to note is that rice has been found to prevent colon cancer. The starch in the rice is digested in the intestines and creates butyric acid, which in turn counteracts cancer-causing agents.
Rice contains protein that, comparatively speaking, is one of the highest quality proteins, for it contains all the essential amino acids for building strong muscles. It also contains the necessary nutrients like thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, phosphorus, iron and potassium.
Of all the grains, rice has the most water content. This water content makes rice a diuretic by guiding the liquid flow in the tissues, thus aiding the kidneys, blood pressure and circulation.
Brown rice, or natural rice, is rice with its bran intact. When rice is polished, a lot of its bran is lost which means a lot of its nutrients are lost too. Brown rice is almost the perfect food as it “closely approaches an ideal ratio of basic nutrients,” meaning it is high in protein, calcium, iron, vitamin B, and other minerals. You can choose from three kinds of brown rice in most health food stores: the: short grain variety, which is sweeter and more glutinous and perfect to eat in colder months; the medium grain variety, which is softer and moister and good for warmer months: and the long grain variety, which is light and fluffy, and recommended for hot months.
Rice is not just a meal
Rice it is also used as a medicinal aid. Every Filipino mother knows that “am” or rice water (water taken from boiling rice) is given to children who are suffering from diarrhea to prevent dehydration. Rice water is also given to people who suffer from stomach troubles like hyperacidity or ulcer as its high starch content coats the stomach lining. It has also been a long accepted fact that congee or “lugao” (when rice is boiled in low heat over a long period of time) helps cure common diseases or acts as prevention to sickness. Having traveled to various Asian countries, it is not a surprise to see wooden carts with big cauldrons of steaming hot congee at the street corners. Very much touted as the apple of the day to keep the doctor away, Chinese doctors recommend a bowl of hot congee with radish as a side dish in the afternoons or evenings.
Rice contains protein that, comparatively speaking, is one of the highest quality proteins, for it contains all the essential amino acids for building strong muscles.