The most commonly consumed rice variety is the refined white rice, which is produced by removing the hull mechanically in a factory, but there is another, healthier, variation called the parboiled rice where the hulled rice is hydrated and steamed, to retain the nutrition of the bran within the rice grain.
Parboiling rice was mostly practiced in Asian countries, especially the South of India, and it caught favor with western countries when the nutritional benefits, of this type of rice processing, was realized.
In this article we will discuss how healthy parboiled rice is, detailing its nutritional benefits while drawing comparison with brown rice and unconverted white rice.
Parboiling Rice Makes it Nutritionally Superior
The process of parboiling harvested rice consists of boiling the rice in its husk, in other words, the rice is pre-cooked (partially cooked) in the husk.
When this process is carried out, the various nutrients present in the bran are driven into the grain, especially the B vitamins, thiamine and niacin. These nutrients are transferred to the grain before the bran is disposed off by polishing the rice manually.
It has been found that parboiled rice is similar to brown rice (close to 80%) when it comes to nutritional structure. The parboiling process makes the soluble vitamins move out of the bran and integrates it into the grain, thus enhancing the vitamin gradient of the polished grain which is produced by removing the husk later (after drying).
Another health benefit of parboiled rice is that the starch in the grains is more gelatinized, making it easily digestible compared to brown rice.
Consumers of brown rice would agree that it takes more time to digest in comparison to white rice. This is because the starch is not broken down easily. In parboiled rice, the starch is pre-cooked making it easier to digest.
Benefits of Eating Parboiled Rice
Eating parboiled rice is healthy and more nutritionally beneficial compared to the unconverted white rice, and more easily digestible compared to the brown rice.
Parboiled rice is not very different from brown rice, when it comes nutritional content, and it’s far better tasting and takes less time to cook. This alone should be reason enough to use parboiled rice compared to the other rice varieties.
Some other benefits of eating parboiled rice are cited below:
Parboiled rice has Low Glycemic Index – GI index is the scale which measure how quickly the body turns a food into sugar. A high GI index means that the food gets converted to sugar very quickly, and thus can lead to a spike in your sugar levels (and hence unhealthy for people with sugar problems or diabetes).
It’s found that parboiled rice has a much lower GI index compared to untreated white rice, and hence it’s a great option for diabetic people.
Rich source of B vitamins – Compared to the untreated rice, the parboiled rice contains a high percentage of B vitamins, thiamine and niacin, which help digest the sugars and converts carbohydrate into energy. The vitamin content in parboiled rice is similar to that present in brown rice.
Brown Rice Versus Parboiled Rice – Which is Better?
It is very healthy to eat parboiled rice and it’s a much superior option compared to untreated white rice, simply because of higher nutritional content.
Of course, parboiled rice has lesser dietary fiber compared to brown rice, but it cooks faster and is much easier to digest and has a better flavor in comparison.
If dietary fiber is your only concern, then brown rice is what you should be looking at, but other than that parboiled rice is healthy and provides ample nutritional benefits to be considered the best option among the rice varieties.