The history of Rare varieties of rice
The journey embarked by the rare varieties of rice for their survival is huge. In Ancient times the Emperors restricted the consumption of rare varieties of rice. Because they are poisonous you assume? No, owing to its royal colour, health benefits, and healing power it was forbidden/withheld for the commoners to grow as well as consume, which mean it could be eaten only by the Emperor.
In Indian traditional medical system (Ayurveda), pigmented rice has been called shastika rice & claims that it can restore imbalances in the human body.
The demand for various types of specialty rice has been growing in modern years, which are sold for as much as 50% more than traditional rice cultivars which are Black rice, Red rice, Rajmudi rice, Kaje rice & more.
Nutritional value and Health benefits
These rice are no longer hidden from its true benefits, it is a healthy variant of rice than the tedious white rice. Coloured rice possesses unique texture and flavour, therefore they are used as ingredient in many exotic dishes.
Black rice (Manipur-ChakHao, Tamil-Kavuni): Also known as the ‘Forbidden Rice’, offers a high amount of flavanoids, phytonutrients, antioxidants, mineral content such as iron and copper. A spoonful of black rice bran provides the same amount or more anthocyanins & antioxidants than a spoonful of blueberries. It is a good source of plant based protein which are hard to get for vegans who rely on grains and legumes for protein. Black rice is rich in dietary fibre, that provides higher satiety when compared to the white rice. A novel healthy rice food on the horizon is the black rice
Red rice: The red colour, varying from light to dark red, is confined to the bran layer. Red rice has a preventive action against Obesity, Diabetes and Cancer.The antioxidant and scavenging activity of red rice is higher than that of white rice.
These health benefits have been attributed in part to their unique phytochemicals, phenolics, flavonoids, and anthocyanins, higher antioxidant activity &has two or three times as much zinc and iron when compared to white rice.
This indigenous rice variety contribute tremendously to the health of the women including adolescent girls, lactating mothers and pregnant women.
The first reason being, the retention of vitamins (B2, B6 & B12) and minerals after polishing in white rice is minimal whereas pigmented rice is packed with micronutrients. The glycemic index of these variants are low compared to milled ones, which is a best option for individuals who are diabetic and weight watchers.
Second, pigmented rice has a strong defensive mechanism which can guard itself against some of the diseases and pests as a result of the high anthocyanins and phenolic content.
These rare varieties of rice are crammed with bioactive compounds, which now individually are marketed as nutritional supplements. The supplementation of pigmented rice in their diet will have an immense impact on human health.
Black rice, Red rice, Kaje rice and Rajmudi rice which will add variety to your diet and also maintain a biodiverse world.
Each variety of this nutrient rich staples are with a unique flavour, which will make you broaden your taste spectrum – in a healthy way!