Is Basmati Rice Healthy?
Basmati is one of the most popular varieties of rice grown worldwide. Its high protein content makes it a favorite among vegetarians and vegans alike.
But what about those who are not so strict on their diet? Is basmati healthy or unhealthy? What’s the truth behind this grain?
Let’s take a look!
What is Basmati Rice?
The term “basmati” refers to the Indian variety of rice, which is a member of the genus Oryza. These rice plants grow wild throughout India and Pakistan. They are native to Asia Minor (modern day Turkey), but have been cultivated in many parts of the world since ancient times. Today, they are grown commercially in places like China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
In terms of taste and nutritional value, basmati rice is considered one of the best grains available today. It contains a higher percentage of dietary fiber than any other type of rice. Basmati rice is also rich in manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.
Where does it Come From?
There are two main varieties of basmati: the Indian and the Pakistani variety. Both varieties are grown from seedlings that have been bred over time to produce larger seeds with greater yield potential.
The Indian basmati is longer and less curved than the Pakistani basmati. Indian basmati also tends to be less expensive than its Pakistani cousin. The most common Indian varieties are Dehra Dun, Basora and the best known one, Texpat.
Pakistani basmati is typically shorter and more curved than other varieties of basmati rice. It is sometimes confused with the fragrant mahgeh rice, which is grown in the neighboring country, Bangladesh. The most common varieties of Pakistani basmati are Kasimir, Patna and Maithani.
The amount of time it takes for basmati rice to mature is one of the factors that differentiates it from other types of rice. Basmati can take up to three times longer to reach maturity. This extended growing time accounts for basmati’s much lower yield when compared to other types of rice.
What is the Nutritional Value?
Basmati has a mild, nutty flavor and a distinctive aroma. It also contains less sodium and more protein than most other types of rice. Basmati is considered to be easy to digest. Most people with gluten sensitivity can eat basmati without causing an allergic reaction. It’s also versatile, able to be served with both sweet or savory dishes.
The extended growing period accounts for basmati’s high protein and low sodium content. It is also high in potassium and magnesium, which helps to prevent the onset of various cardiovascular diseases.
Basmati also contains more dietary fiber than other types of rice. While it doesn’t have quite as much fiber as whole wheat, basmati has been shown to help lower blood cholesterol levels. It’s also easier to digest than wheat because the dietary fiber in basmati is soluble.
This prevents unwanted build up along the intestinal walls.
As far as calories are concerned, there isn’t much difference between one cup of basmati rice and one cup of long-grain white rice. One cup of each only has around 160 calories. The main difference is basmati has a lower glycemic index than long-grain white rice, so it isn’t quite as likely to contribute to any sort of insulin spike.
Is It Unhealthy?
The main concern with basmati is the same one that’s often brought up when discussing any type of rice. Because it has a lower glycemic index than other types of rice, basmati isn’t likely to contribute to diabetes or other insulin-related health issues. At the same time, however, basmati doesn’t do much to control those issues either. If anything, basmati might make them worse due to its high fat and cholesterol content.
It’s best to eat basmati in moderation and to pair it with foods that are low in fat and cholesterol. It’s also a good idea to substitute other grains for half the rice you would normally eat. Just bear in mind that basmati has a lower glycemic index than other types of rice, so you may experience some unwanted side effects if you eat too much of it.
How Can I Incorporate It Into My Meals?
Basmati pairs well with a variety of spices and herbs. If you’re having a hard time thinking of interesting ways to incorporate basmati into your meals, you can always visit an Indian restaurant and order one of their specialty dishes. Many Indian dishes are made with basmati, so there’s no shortage of ideas to draw from.
You can also experiment with basmati in your own kitchen. There are a number of recipes online for chicken, lamb, and seafood dishes that incorporate basmati into the main recipe. All you need to do is find one you like and then make a few alterations based on your own preferences.
You could also incorporate basmati into one of your favorite recipes or come up with an entirely new one.
There are many different ways to incorporate basmati into your meals. The important thing to remember is not to overdo it. As with all types of rice, basmati can be high in fat and calories if you have too much.
It’s best to pair basmati with foods that are low in fat, especially if you’re eating basmati for the health benefits.
Sources & references used in this article:
Evaluation of soil health in organic vs. conventional farming of basmati rice in North India by D Sihi, B Dari, DK Sharma, H Pathak… – Journal of Plant …, 2017 – Wiley Online Library
Evaluation of fungicides as seedling treatment for controlling bakanae/foot rot (Fusarium moniliforme) disease in Basmati rice by PS Bagga, VK Sharma – Indian Phytopath, 2006 – pdfs.semanticscholar.org
DDT and HCH Residues in Basmati Rice (Oryza sativa) Cultivated in Dehradun (India) by D Srinivasa, A Raman, P Meena, G Chitale, A Marwaha… – J Assoc Phys India, 2013
Effect of polishing on glycemic index and antioxidant properties of red and white basmati rice by GS Babu, M Farooq, RS Ray, PC Joshi… – Water, air, and soil …, 2003 – Springer
Glycaemic index of some commercially available rice and rice products in Great Britain by GM Somaratne, BDR Prasantha, GR Dunuwila… – Food chemistry, 2017 – Elsevier