Basmati Rice is a common item in Indian and South Asian cuisines. It is well known for its aroma and taste. It may be clubbed together with plain white rice often but basmati is quite different from other types of rice.
It is cultivated in the foothills of the Himalayas with India being its largest exporter. Although basmati rice is known for being the best companion to a number of South Asian dishes, it is a lesser-known fact that it is quite nutritious than other rice varieties.
Basmati rice is a nutritious food that is rich in iron, zinc, and calcium. It has a low glycemic index, which makes it an excellent dietary option for people with diabetes and gluten-sensitivity issues. There are two types of basmati rice – white and brown, and both have their unique benefits.
This article will take a closer look at basmati rice, exploring its nutrients and health benefits.
- Basmati rice is an aromatic rice variety that is very popular in South Asian cuisine. It also has many health benefits.
- Basmati rice has a low glycemic index, making it a healthier option for individuals with diabetes and gluten sensitivity issues.
- Basmati rice is rich in nutrients, particularly Vitamin B1, also known as Thiamine, which is quite prominent in it.
- The dietary fiber content in Basmati rice contributes directly to making it a healthy choice for maintaining bodily processes such as good heart health, optimal bowel movements, etc.
- Basmati rice, especially the brown variety, aids in weight loss as it contains no cholesterol, fat, or sugar, and has fewer carbohydrates compared to the white variety
15 Basmati Rice Benefits
Here are 15 Basmati rice health benefits that you should know about:
Low Glycemic Index
If you need to consume foods with a low glycemic index, basmati rice is an excellent choice. The Glycemic Index (GI) is a ranking system for carbohydrates based on their impact on blood glucose levels, and research indicates that incorporating low GI foods in your diet is beneficial for your health.
Consuming food with a high glycemic index (GI) can lead to a rapid spike in blood sugar levels, which can be particularly hazardous for individuals with diabetes. In contrast, Basmati rice has a low glycemic index and is digested at a slower pace, making it a healthier option.
Properly cooked basmati rice is a safer alternative to plain white rice. One cup serving of cooked basmati rice has a glycemic index of about 37.5 units. This has been demonstrated in a study where the glycemic index of basmati rice was found to be significantly lower than that of plain white rice. 
High Fiber Content
Fiber is the primary nutrient that most think of when it comes to Basmati Rice and the fiber content makes up up a greater percentage of the health benefits of basmati rice.
One cup serving of cooked white basmati rice contains about 0.4 grams of dietary fiber. Whole grain brown bran basmati rice on the other hand is particularly rich in fiber and contains about 4.4 grams of it. This makes the fiber content in brown basmati almost 20% more than other brown rice varieties.
Any healthy diet should consist of a bit of fiber as it is important in regulating a number of bodily processes such as maintaining blood glucose and cholesterol levels as well as aiding in swift digestion.
Maintaining good intestinal health is crucial, and fibers play a key role in achieving it. They act as the primary food source for gut bacteria, which in turn produce essential metabolites and vitamins, such as vitamin K, that perform various vital functions in the body.
Additionally, fibers aid in intestinal motility and decrease fat absorption, making them an integral part of a healthy diet.
Good for Heart Health
Basmati rice’s dietary fiber content contributes directly to making it a healthy choice for maintaining good heart health.
Some diet-related factors can be responsible for Coronary Heart Diseases. These factors include hyperlipidemia, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, etc. Among the hyperlipidemias, hypercholesterolemia is the foremost among factors that cause CHD. Almost 75% of people with hypercholesterolemia are always recommended to make a change in diet. 
An increase in dietary fiber intake is almost always recommended as it reduces the risks of CHD by improving blood lipid profiles, lowering blood pressure, improving insulin sensitivity, and fibrinolytic activity. 
Reduced Risk of Cancer
Consuming a diet high in fiber can reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancers. A higher intake of dietary fiber is associated with a lowered risk of colorectal cancer.
However, there is not enough scientific literature to back up the role of fiber from cereals, specifically basmati rice in the context of cancer cells. That said, the inverse correlation between fiber intake and cancer has been positively established.
Good for Diabetes Patients
Diabetes is a disease that is unfortunately very common these days. This condition causes your body to improperly store or regulate blood sugar, also known as glucose.
Normally, insulin is generated by your body to regulate glucose levels but when one has diabetes their blood sugar levels are inconsistent and may rise or drop abruptly, causing a disruption in the insulin secretion.
This is where Basmati rice- which is a whole grain rich in dietary fiber, can help in reducing risks of type 2 Diabetes as well as managing its symptoms. At least half of the diet of diabetic patients should consist of whole grains, as consumption of the same has been proven to improve insulin levels as well as the body’s control of glucose levels. 
Brown Basmati rice, which is the least processed variety of Basmati, is highly recommended for diabetics due to its unmilled nature that preserves the bran layer and nutrients that are lost during the conversion of brown rice into white.
It contains no cholesterol, fat, or sugar, and has fewer carbohydrates compared to the white variety, making it a perfect fit for diabetic dietary recommendations.
Aids in Weight Loss
It might sound a little absurd as to how a carbohydrate source can help in weight loss but it is indeed the case. Because of this health benefit of basmati rice, it is often recommended by dieticians for regulating weight.
This is due to the presence of a certain starch called “amylose”. This starch is the reason why the rice does not gelatinize when cooked and results in separate and fluffy rice granules. Another property of amylose is that it slows down digestion and increases the feeling of fullness after eating which also reduces excessive food intake.
This can help you feel full for longer durations and reduce the calorie intake at the same aiding in weight reduction.
Helps in Digestion
This goes without saying but we already know that basmati rice is a rich source of fiber, which is essential for maintaining optimal digestive health. The fiber content in basmati rice aids in regulating bowel movements and relieving symptoms of constipation, thereby promoting healthy digestion.
Additionally, the fiber in basmati rice acts as food for the gut bacteria, which produce essential metabolites and vitamins that perform various vital functions in the body. Therefore, incorporating basmati rice into your diet can help in improving digestion and overall gut health.
Low in Arsenic Quantity Than Other Rice Varieties
Rice is a semi-aquatic crop that is grown in water-flooded “paddy fields”, which makes it susceptible to contamination by arsenic, a natural element that can be highly toxic. As a result, many types of rice can contain high levels of arsenic.
However, studies have shown that basmati rice has the lowest concentration of arsenic. 
To reduce the amount of arsenic present in rice, it’s essential to rinse or soak it before cooking. Additionally, it’s recommended to source your rice carefully, as rice from India, Pakistan, and California consistently tests lowest for arsenic content.
Regulates Blood Pressure
Basmati rice is a rich source of essential nutrients such as magnesium and potassium, which contribute significantly to the reduction of blood pressure.
Potassium is known to relax blood vessels and improve circulation, thereby enhancing blood flow to vital organs. Incorporating basmati rice into your diet on a regular basis can aid in managing high blood pressure and promote overall well-being.
High in Vitamin B1
One of the most important benefits of Basmati rice is that it contains high levels of Vitamin B1. It is also known as Thiamine. It is a water-soluble nutrient which means that it is easily digested and not stored inside the body.
Vitamin B1, also referred to as thiamine, is a crucial nutrient that plays a vital role in the maintenance of homeostasis in the human body, especially during stressful situations. It is known as the “anti-stress nutrient” due to its ability to regulate stress levels and promote a sense of calmness and well-being.
Additionally, it is essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system and overall brain health. Fortunately, both brown and white basmati rice are rich sources of Vitamin B1, making them a reliable choice of cereal.
It Is a Whole Grain
White rice of any kind, including white basmati rice is considered a refined grain but this is not the case with brown rice varieties such as brown basmati rice, which are whole grains. Brown rice has intact kernels that preserve the germ, the bran, and the endosperm.
Studies show that eating whole grains can help protect against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Eating whole grains can also help with weight loss, improve blood lipid levels, and provide antioxidant benefits.
While it’s difficult to separate the protective properties of whole grains from dietary fibers and other components, the immunity and protection that whole grains offer from diseases has been proved scientifically to far exceed isolated nutrients and phytochemicals that make up the whole grains. 
Contains Essential Amino Acids
Amino Acids are often referred to as the building blocks of proteins and are compounds that play an important role in your body such as regulating hormones and neurotransmitters. There are 3 types of amino acids and the “essential” class is some that are externally acquired from certain foods.
Although the body can produce some amino acids, it cannot generate the eight essential ones and they have to be acquired from food sources.
In a study twelve basmati rice varieties (aromatic) and one non-aromatic rice variety were subjected to amino acid composition analysis.
Comparative assessment between the essential amino acid profiles of aromatic and non-aromatic varieties revealed significantly higher values in the aromatic ones.
Specifically, these values ranged from 2.82 to 4.86 gm/100 gm protein for lysine, 1.92 to 3.13 for methionine, 1.67 to 4.23 for tyrosine, 3.65 to 4.91 for phenylalanine, 5.50 to 8.95 for leucine, 2.25 to 3.40 for isoleucine, 2.84 to 3.46 for threonine, and 3.36 to 5.33 for valine.
When compared to the FAO recommended standards, the majority of aromatic varieties exhibited either similar or higher essential amino acid levels.
Particularly noteworthy were ‘Type 3,’ ‘Basmati sufaid 100,’ ‘Likitimachi,’ ‘Randhunipagalu,’ and ‘Basmati 370,’ which showcased superior content in lysine, phenylalanine, leucine, and methionine. 
It Is a Source of Plant-based Iron
Iron plays a pivotal role in the synthesis of red blood cells and oxygen transport within the human body. Insufficient dietary intake of this essential micronutrient is considered a leading cause of anemia. Therefore, the consumption of iron-rich foods is needed as a preventative measure.
Basmati rice is one such food item that contains high amounts of iron and the best part is that it is a plant-based source. This makes it a great food option for vegans and vegetarians. 200 grams of basmati rice contains approximately 2-2.6mg of iron which is almost 35% of the daily recommended intake of the nutrient.
It Is a Complex Carbohydrate
Complex carbs often get a bad rep for their slow digestion and contribution to weight gain. But this is not the case for people with diabetes for whom complex carbohydrates are always better than simple carbs which causes spikes in blood sugar levels.
Brown basmati rice is an excellent option for obtaining complex carbohydrates from whole grains due to its unprocessed nature. Additionally, this brown rice variant is typically rich in dietary fiber and various micronutrients, including essential vitamins and minerals, which further enhance its nutritional profile.
Another of the most important health benefits of basmati rice is that it contains selenium and manganese, which are two micronutrients that have incredible anti-oxidant properties.
Antioxidants fight “free radicals” that cause health problems, aging, and diseases. Free radicals are oxygen-containing molecules with an uneven number of electrons that cause chemical reactions linked to serious illnesses.
Antioxidants restore balance in the body and neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals.
To sum up, Basmati rice is not only a delicious and aromatic element of South Asian cuisine but it also has many important health benefits.
Additionally, it is a pantry staple and can be consumed over a long period of time. There is no set expiry date for basmati rice and it has a long shelf-life if stored properly. However, the aroma may not be as noticeable over time.
And to top it all off, basmati rice is quite cheap if we compare it to other healthy plant-based food options. It is more expensive than plain white rice varieties but to be fair, the difference is not as much, and bulk buying basmati rice can save you money.
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