First, rice is low fat and high in nutrition. It is how much you eat of it, what you eat with rice and it is how you cook rice that are the potential down sides. On the whole, however, it is easy to understand how rice dishes in general contribute to a well balanced diet for a large part of the world’s population.

The different types of rice, the different amounts, the different ways of cooking rice, the different accompaniments, all of these things can affect the total outcome of blood sugar levels. This is not forgetting the overriding influence of the person’s weight and exercise output that critically determines how much energy we need to consume. All of these factors contribute to the effect of rice on the incidence of diabetes. It is not just one factor like eating a bowl of white rice.

The reason why ‘white rice’ was highlighted as the possible bad guy is because the subject contrasts to the philosophy of whole meal foods. These foods get a good press in the diabetes world because their digestion and absorption into the body is much slower and gentler thereby avoiding the spikes of high blood sugar. What it really boils down to, however, is quantity be it whole meal or refined. If you eat a lot then you tend to get more health problems.

Rice is a grain that is cultivated and then processed through a well defined process known as hulling and milling. This produces the commercial product sold on the open market all over the world.

White rice is the final end product, it is mainly starch and therefore pure carbohydrate, the building blocks of which are glucose molecules. These will be absorbed into our bloodstream after digestion and used for fuel in our body. Insulin regulates this process and too much glucose entering the body too quickly will put a strain on this process. It is because of the possibility that eating a lot of white rice might lead to harm that we have become interested in other rice varieties.

Japonica rice used for making sushi is a particular type of a rice variety. Sushi which is prepared with Japonica rice and raw fish which is low in fat and high in protein vitamins and minerals. The fats in seafood contain relatively high levels of Omega 3 and this is considered to be good for the heart.

Glutinous rice is a type of sticky Asian rice containing very high amounts of amylopectin which is responsible for making the rice sticky. It is particularly popular in Burmese cooking and this type of rice is often used as a pudding rice in the Middle East

Arborio rice is an Italian short grained rice named after the town of Arborio where it is grown in the Po Valley. Used for making risotto it also has a high amylopectin starch content which allows it to absorb other flavors cooked with it.

Basmati rice is a variety of long grain rice grown in India which has a distinctive flavor often used to make Biryani. It is particularly interesting in this context because although it is a white rice, the absorption into the body seems to be slower that normal white rice. The smoother blood glucose profile may be beneficial but not enough data has been established to comment. The point concerning high, medium and low Glycaemic Index (GI) foods is introduced by considering this point. High GI foods like white rice release sugar into the body quickly and medium GI foods like basmati rice more slowly in an assumed more beneficial way. The subject is far from clear and it depends what food accompanies your rice portion.

Jasmine rice known also as Thai fragrant rice is a long grain rice with a nutty aroma. When steamed it is fluffy and its aromatic flavor is a very good accompaniment to Thai curries. Like other types of rice it is a source of iron which is good for preventing anemia

Paella Rice, is a medium grain white rice. One of the most popular is Bomba paella rice grown in Valencia Spain, it is cultivated in cooler conditions compared to other paella rice taking longer to mature. When it is cooked it absorbs much more liquid than other paella rice and because it is the stock which contains the flavor it translates into meaning more flavor. Seafood paella is a wonderful nutritional balance of food and flavors.

Brown rice is the product of the milling process which leaves an outer sleave of fiber around the rice grain. It tastes ‘grainy and bitty’ and is therefore less used in mainstream culinary preparations.

Wild rice is also a grain eaten by some communities. In botanical terms it does not belong to the rice family, wild rice is more like a grass. It is gritty to eat and not much of it seems to be eaten in anywhere near the quantities of white rice. It is often mixed with white rice to make it palatable. Not many studies on nutrition, diabetes and wild rice have been done. However, the inference from such studies about the glycaemic index of rice is that the high fibre content of whole grains is better for you than highly processed grains.

Red Rice is known as weedy rice. One of the best known in Europe is Red Camargue rice. This is a relative new variety introduced into the wetlands of the Camargue region in Southern France. It has a very pronounced nutty taste a chewy texture which makes it more filling than white rice so less is needed per portion than white rice

Black rice also known as forbidden rice is very distinctive in taste and not to be confused with rice dyed with squid ink. Black rice is actually deep purple in color due to its high anthocyanin content and it is known to have a high nutritional value and contains relatively high levels of several important vitamins and minerals such as zinc and copper. It has a high fiber content and is rich in antioxidants.

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