Cultivated for millennia in Asia, rice is now consumed around the world. It is the staple diet for about half of the world’s population. It is even reported that about 23% of all calories consumed worldwide come from rice.
- Rich in fiber;
- Source of group B vitamins;
- Source of manganese and selenium;
- Rich in antioxidants;
- Fight against the appearance of certain pathologies.
Rice, what is it?
Rice identity card
- Type: Cereal;
- Family: Poaceae;
- Origin: South America, Africa and Asia;
- Season: September to April;
- Color: White to black;
- Flavor: Neutral.
Characteristics of rice
Rice is a plant that grows in clusters of stems that can range from less than a meter in height to over fifty meters. The grain of rice is the fruit.
Word from the nutritionist
Rice is a cereal, so it is part of the starchy foods in our diet. One serving corresponds to 120 to 150g of cooked rice.
For 100g of cooked rice:
|Vitamin B1||0.02 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0.01 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.05 mg|
|Vitamin B9||3 µg|
17 benefits of rice: why eat it?
- Antioxidants are compounds that reduce the damage caused by free radicals in the body. These are very reactive molecules that are believed to be involved in the onset of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and other diseases linked to aging. Rice contains a variety of antioxidants, especially whole grain rice.
- In rice bran, more than 70% of the compounds belonging to the vitamin E family are believed to be tocotrienols, a type of antioxidant. Several studies in animals and humans with hypercholesterolemia have observed that the consumption of these tocotrienols has a cholesterol lowering effect.
- Some varieties of rice are dark in color, tending to purple. This coloration is mainly due to the presence of anthocyanins, other phenolic antioxidants. In vitro studies have observed a high antioxidant activity of anthocyanins from dark rice (purple or black), comparable even to anthocyanins from blueberries, one of the most antioxidant fruits. Another in vitro study demonstrated inhibition of cancer cell growth in the presence of anthocyanin compounds in purple rice. These results may suggest interesting impacts on human health.
- Lectins are a type of protein commonly found in plant foods; there are many varieties. Although they are also considered to be anti-nutritional factors (which decrease the assimilation of certain nutrients), recent studies have noticed new potentially beneficial properties. The lectin found in rice bran, called RBA (Rice Bran Agglutinin) has been shown in vitro to inhibit the growth of human cancer cells30. Since this lectin is resistant to passage through the stomach, it is believed that it could remain active in humans and thus retain its properties.
- Rice, like all grain products, can raise blood sugar levels (sugar in the blood). However, some parts of rice bran may have a beneficial effect in diabetics. In fact, a study in nearly 150 diabetics (types 1 and 2) observed that the soluble portion of rice bran was particularly effective in reducing the increase in blood glucose, even leading a quarter of them to reduce their dose. daily insulin or oral hypoglycemic agents during the study.
- Water from cooking rice is considered useful in helping to treat mild to moderate diarrhea, including reducing the number of stools and improving their consistency. However, this solution would not be effective enough to treat severe diarrhea or those that affect children under a few months.
- Brown rice is a great source of manganese, while white rice is a good source. Manganese acts as a cofactor of several enzymes that facilitate a dozen different metabolic processes. It also participates in the prevention of damage caused by free radicals.
- Brown rice is a good source of selenium. White rice is a source. This mineral works with one of the main antioxidant enzymes, thus preventing the formation of free radicals in the body. It also helps convert thyroid hormones to their active form.
- Rice is a source of phosphorus. Phosphorus is the body’s second most abundant mineral after calcium. It plays a vital role in building and maintaining healthy bones and teeth. In addition, it participates among other things in the growth and regeneration of tissues and helps maintain normal blood pH. Finally, phosphorus is one of the constituents of cell membranes.
- Brown rice is a source of magnesium. Magnesium is involved in bone development, protein building, enzymatic reactions, muscle contraction, dental health and the proper functioning of the immune system. It also plays a role in the metabolism of energy and in the transmission of nerve impulses.
- Brown rice is a source of zinc. White rice, on the other hand, is a source for women, the needs of men and women being different. Zinc is involved in particular in immune reactions, in the production of genetic material, in the perception of taste, in the healing of wounds and in the development of the fetus. It also interacts with sex and thyroid hormones. In the pancreas, it participates in the synthesis (manufacture), storage and release of insulin.
- Brown rice is a source of iron for men, the needs of men and women being different. Each body cell contains iron. This mineral is essential for the transport of oxygen and the formation of red blood cells in the blood. It also plays a role in the manufacture of new cells, hormones and neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses).
- Rice is a source of copper. As a component of several enzymes, copper is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and collagen (a protein used for the structure and repair of tissues) in the body. Several copper-containing enzymes also help in the body’s defense against free radicals.
- Brown rice is a source of vitamin B1. Also called thiamine, this vitamin is part of a coenzyme necessary for the production of energy mainly from the carbohydrates that we ingest. It also participates in the transmission of nerve impulses and promotes normal growth.
- Brown rice is a source of vitamin B3. Also called niacin, vitamin B3 is involved in many metabolic reactions and particularly contributes to the production of energy from the carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and alcohol that we ingest. It also collaborates in the process of DNA formation, allowing normal growth and development.
- Rice is a source of pantothenic acid. Also known as vitamin B5, pantothenic acid is part of a key coenzyme that allows us to adequately utilize the energy found in the foods we eat. It also participates in several stages of the synthesis (manufacture) of steroid hormones, neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses) and hemoglobin.
- Rice is a source of vitamin B6. This vitamin, also called pyridoxine, is part of coenzymes which participate in the metabolism of proteins and fatty acids as well as in the synthesis of neurotransmitters (messengers of nerve impulses). It also helps make red blood cells and allows them to carry more oxygen. Pyridoxine is also necessary for the transformation of glycogen into glucose and it contributes to the proper functioning of the immune system. Finally, this vitamin plays a role in the formation of certain components of nerve cells and in the modulation of hormone receptors.
Choosing the right rice
Each dish has its rice
You can’t prepare a risotto without using Italian Arborio, a small grain rice that has the particularity of being tender on the outside, but keeping a touch of firmness in the center. Of course, Carnaroli, the “rice caviar” is even better, but it is not affordable for all budgets. In Spain, paella is prepared with Calasparra, a small-grained variety that benefits from a controlled denomination of origin. In Louisiana, jambalaya, a rich and spicy dish composed of sausages, ham, seafood, pork or chicken, will be prepared with wild pecans, an aromatic variety with long grains whose flavor, we suspect, is reminiscent of the pecans.
You can find brown rice (or whole) and white rice completely stripped of its husk and, therefore, almost devoid of vitamins and minerals. However, despite its superiority over white rice, brown rice is little consumed in the world, due to the rancid flavor that it takes a few months after being harvested. This flavor comes from the fact that polyunsaturated fatty acids, which have a rich bran, turn rancid when they come into contact with air.
There is also parboiled rice (converted), that is to say it is cooked under vacuum with its husk, before being shelled and dried. This process has the double advantage of making it an extremely stable product which will cook very evenly regardless of the skills of the cook, and of partially preserving the nutrients, which, during parboiling, migrate to the starched core of the grain.
The different varieties
The treatments that rice grains have undergone influence their nutritional value. Brown rice, with only the inedible shell removed, is more nutritious than all white rice and contains more fiber. Among white rices, however, some are more nutritious than others. Parboiled white rice is indeed more nutritious than other white rice: parboiling causes several nutrients to migrate towards the center of the grain, which reduces the risk of subsequent losses. On the other hand, “minute” rice, although its very rapid cooking gives it a practical side, is much less nutritious because of the more numerous treatments it has undergone.
The different varieties also correspond to the places where they are grown and consumed. In Japan, China, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Bhutan, Africa, we have our favorite grains: red rice from the highlands of Africa or the foothills of the Himalayas, purple from Thailand, black Chinese rice, jasmine rice from northeast Thailand, medium-grained botanical rice for making Japanese sushi, and finally bamboo rice from the Chinese province of Yunnan, a specialty dating back over 800 years that is prepared in infusing the grain, during polishing, with chlorophyll from young bamboo plants, which gives it a fresh green color.
The rice will be eaten as fresh as possible, at least within the year of its harvest. With age, the grain hardens, becomes firmer and less sticky. It loses its moisture and splits more easily during cooking. As for aromatic rice, they become stale as they age. The only exception is basmati rice, which gains in texture and flavor after one or two years of drying.
As the bran goes rancid easily, the shelf life of whole rice does not exceed six months; beyond that, we recommend keeping it in the coldest part of the refrigerator, making sure that it does not take in moisture. This is true for reds, blacks, and purples, which are whole grain rice. White rice will be kept in an airtight container, in the cupboard or in the expense.
Preparing the rice
How to cook it? How to match it?
Rinse. The rice should be rinsed to get rid of its excess starch and residue. Rinse until the water runs clear.
Soak. Soaking rice is not very common in our North American kitchens, but it is an important step. It reduces the cooking time by a few minutes, but above all, it has the effect of improving the texture of the rice, the inside and the outside of the grain cooking simultaneously and evenly. Soaking for one hour cooks white rice in an average of 6 to 8 minutes, whereas it normally takes 15. Although it has been cooked before, parboiled rice takes a little longer to cook: 20 minutes if it has not been soaked, 12 otherwise. Whole rice cooks in an hour, a little less if you soak it for four to eight hours.
Rice cooking is generally done in two stages: first, it is the water that cooks it and then, as it evaporates, it is steam. It is this which gives the rice its swelling shape. It is therefore important that the water is first brought to the boiling point; then reduce the heat to a minimum and cover.
Water-rice ratio. Recommendations vary from cook to cook, depending on the type of rice, its “age”, texture, etc. Experienced cooks put the rice in the pot, then add enough water so that the level is about 1 to 1.5 cm above the level of the rice, regardless of the amount of grain to be cooked. In fact, to cook perfectly, rice only needs its own volume of water, plus which will evaporate during cooking. It goes without saying that the longer the cooking time, the greater the quantity of water must be.
When the rice is cooked, stir it gently with a fork to release the steam and separate the grains.
Cooked rice heats up without difficulty. Just add 2 tbsp. of liquid per cup, cover and reheat on the round or in the oven for five to ten minutes.
- In the Middle East, rice is roasted before boiling, which enhances its nutty flavor.
- In macrobiotic cooking, brown rice is roasted in a dry pan after soaking it for at least four hours (but preferably overnight) and draining. Stir constantly to prevent the grains from burning and sticking. If desired, add a few drops of tamari during the operation and eat as is.
- In China, Japan, Korea, it is made into a thick porridge by cooking it in six or seven times its volume of water. Serve with various condiments: umeboshi plums, seaweed powder, gomasio, chopped shallots, nori seaweed, parsley.
- In Madagascar, the rice cooking water is an excellent drink. It is served very cold at mealtime. Note that in traditional Western medicine, it has long been appreciated for its softening and emollient properties in cases of intestinal irritation and diarrhea.
- In Japan, we take amasake or “rice milk”, a thick fermented drink made with cooked rice and considered excellent for health. In the West, you can find amasake in Japanese specialty stores or some health food stores. Not to be confused with dairy substitutes made with rice or rice flour which are sometimes referred to as “rice milk” and which are just as excellent, but are not fermented.
In this country, they also prepare genmaicha, a hot drink made from green tea and dry roasted rice. With its sweet flavor, toasted rice tempers the astringency of tea without taking away any of its strength. You can buy genmaicha in Japanese grocery stores or make it yourself.
- We call “rice paper” these thin translucent pancakes made of rice flour and water, and which the Vietnamese and Thais use to make spring rolls.
- Asians cook rice noodles a lot, which they fry in oil to make them crisp, or sauté with vegetables and meat to make them chewy.
- Wine, syrup, vinegar – harsh if they come from China, sweet if they come from Japan – are used in cooking as they would their Western counterparts. Onions, carrots, or turnips glazed with rice syrup are worth experimenting with.
- Although very nutritious, rice bran has traditionally been little used because it goes rancid easily. We have now found a way to stabilize it, so that it can be eaten without problem: it is rich in fiber and B vitamins.
- Rich in quality fatty acids and vitamin E, rice bran oil is added to certain so-called “nutraceutical” food products.
Replacing milk with rice drinks
Some people who are less drawn to dairy products may be tempted to replace milk with a rice drink, which is somewhat similar in color and consistency to milk. Although some rice drinks are fortified with calcium, vitamin A, vitamin B12 and vitamin D, it should be borne in mind that these drinks contain much less protein than cow’s milk or soy drinks.
In children, rice drinks, whether fortified or not, are not a suitable substitute for breast milk, formula, or whole cow’s milk pasteurized for the first two years.
History of rice
It is from an oriental language, Chinese or Sanskrit, that the word for this cereal comes. Passing through Greek, it became oruza, by Latin oryza, by Italian riso for, in the thirteenth century, to take the form of “ris” for a while, before being what it is today. , in French.
Researchers estimate that rice cultivation in China, India and other tropical countries in Asia must have started 10,000 years ago, and even before. Recent data obtained by radiocarbon dating indicate that the cultivation of millet in northern China and that of rice in the south were contemporaneous with those of barley, starch and grain in the Near East. This would indicate that Western and Eastern civilizations evolved in much the same way and at the same rate.
While it was probably in Southeast Asia that rice was domesticated, it was in China that irrigated cultivation techniques were developed, which will be adopted in all the countries that will produce this rice. cereal. From then on, rice will be grown in the Philippines, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, India and Sri Lanka.
Europe and America
Arrived in Europe through Greece, with the troops who had accompanied Alexander the Great on his expedition to India around 340 BC, the rice will spread throughout southern Europe as well as in parts of North Africa. . However, until the end of the Renaissance, there will remain a marginal production in Europe, the medical authorities having decreed that wetlands and swamps constituted a highly favorable environment for malaria. This disease also takes its name from “bad air” because it was believed to be attributable to unhealthy fumes from swampy areas.
Rice will then follow the usual route: Brazil with the Portuguese, South and Central America with the Spaniards. In the United States, it is believed to have been cultivated for the first time around 1685 in what is now South Carolina. It would have been introduced there by slaves brought back from Madagascar. He will then settle in Louisiana, then in California, in the 20th century. Produced today in 112 countries in virtually all latitudes and altitudes, the fact remains that 95% of world production is grown and consumed in Asia, where rice is for many the primary staple food, representing sometimes up to 60% of the diet.
Source of energy and protein
Since it provides twice as much energy and protein per hectare as wheat or corn, rice can feed a proportionately larger number of people. Some see this as the reason for the rapid growth of the Asian population relative to that of the populations of Europe and the Americas.
Two species of rice are cultivated today, Oryza sativa, or Asian rice, and Oryza glaberrima, or African rice, but the Asian species is the only one to be cultivated on a large scale in countries with a favorable climate. Even in Africa, native rice is grown only marginally, in the western part of the continent, where conditions are not favorable for the establishment of irrigated crops.
Ecology and environment
In the 1980s, under the leadership of a Jesuit and French agronomist, Henri de Laudani, a group of small-scale rice producers from Madagascar achieved a radical increase in rice yields by changing ancestral methods. We went from two to eight tons per hectare without ever having recourse to the armada of chemicals generally necessary to obtain such results. Nor did they have to use the improved and extremely expensive seeds that the “green revolution” of the 1970s had made indispensable for anyone wishing to increase their production.
It was simply a question of transplanting the young shoots earlier in their growth and limiting the irrigation so that the plants were better oxygenated and gained strength and productivity. Some 20,000 Malagasy farmers have adopted the method, and their performance has been shown to be environmentally sustainable and economically viable. Since then, farmers in producing countries like China, Bangladesh and Indonesia have experimented with it. In China, in the first year, yields of 9 to 10.5 tonnes per hectare were obtained where only 6 tonnes were harvested before.