Consider Nielsen’s 2015 Global Health & Wellness Survey that polled over 30,000 individuals online and suggests consumer mindset about healthy foods has shifted and they are ready to pay more for products that claim to boost health and weight loss.*
* Nielsen’s 2015 Global Health & Wellness Survey, WE ARE WHAT WE EAT, HEALTHY EATING TRENDS AROUND THE WORLD, JANUARY 2015
While economic concerns remain in the forefront for consumers, health and wellness concerns continue to increase in importance. The reasons vary from societal, demographic, technological, governmental and, most importantly, a shift in consumer focus on the role diet plays in health. In fact, as consumers take more responsibility for their health food as medicine is becoming increasingly dynamic. This idea of using food to manage health may, in part, help explain growing consumer interest in fresh, natural and organic products. Consumers understand a food’s nutritional value (in helping to lower blood pressure, for example), as well as overall health risk.
If you’ve switched from white rice to brown rice to up the nutrition in your diet, you made a good choice. But if you’re looking to improve the nutritional quality of your diet even more, consider adding specialty rice (black, purple, and red) to your whole-grain rotation. While both brown rice and specialty rice are low in fat and a good source of healthy carbs, specialty rice is lower in calories and a better source of fiber. It might be a better source of antioxidants, too.
Specialty rice is produced by removing only the outermost layer, the hull, of the rice kernel keeping most of its nutritional value intact. But when the rice kernel is milled and polished to make it white, here’s what can get destroyed:
Once all the good stuff is removed, white rice is then enriched. That means that vitamins B1, B3 and iron are added back, but the rest of the nutrients are lost for good.
If you like rice and you’re counting calories, specialty rice makes a better choice when compared to brown rice. A 1/3-cup serving of dry specialty rice contains 200 calories, while the same serving of brown rice contains 226 calories. Twenty-six calories may not seem like much of a difference, but consuming an extra 26 calories a day over one year can lead to a 2.7-pound weight gain.
Specialty rice is lower in carbs but higher in fiber, and a better source of protein than brown rice. A 1/3 cup serving of dry black rice contains 43 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein and 2 grams of fat, while the same serving of brown rice contains 47 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein and 2 grams of fat.
The mineral content in both specialty(black/purple/red) rice and brown rice is relatively similar. A serving of either rice meets 8 percent of the daily value for zinc and 20 percent of the daily value for phosphorus. But the specialty rice is a slightly better source of iron, meeting 6 percent of the daily value, compared to 5 percent of the daily value in a serving of brown rice. Zinc is a mineral that supports immune health, phosphorus is needed for the formation of teeth and bones and iron helps transport oxygen throughout your body.
A major difference between the specialty rice and brown rice is color, and the color of the specialty rice may also make it a better source of antioxidants, according to the American Chemical Society. Anthocyanin, a pigment found in the rice grain that creates its dark hue, is an antioxidant that may aid in your fight against heart disease and cancer. The American Chemical Society says that a spoonful of specialty rice bran has more antioxidant power than a spoonful of blueberries. While brown rice is not a good source of anthocyanin, it is a source of vitamin E, which is also an important antioxidant that might offer protection against chronic illness.
One of the researches* analyzing 235 types of rice from around the world has found its glycemic index varies from one type of rice to another with most varieties scoring a low to medium GI. This finding is good news because it not only means rice can be part of a healthy diet for the average consumer, it also means people with diabetes, or at risk of diabetes, can select the right rice to help maintain a healthy, low GI diet.
The study found that the GI of rice ranges from a low of 48 to a high of 92, with an average of 64, and that the GI of rice depends on the type of rice consumed. For example, white rice 79, brown rice 55, black rice 42.
* M. A. Fitzgerald, S. Rahman, A. P. Resurreccion, J. Concepcion, V. D. Daygon, S. S. Dipti, K. A. Kabir, B. Klingner, M. K. Morell, A. R. Bird. Identification of a Major Genetic Determinant of Glycaemic Index in Rice. Rice, 2011; 4 (2): 66 DOI: 10.1007/s12284-011-9073-z