1,10,000. 40,000. Some say 6,000. There seems to be no end to the number of rice varieties in India. Yes, we are talking about the number of rice varieties in India. From the ancient times, rice has been celebrated by the Indian community. It is also one of the major staple foods of India. From the white polished to unpolished and black rice all have their own benefits. Rice is cultivated throughout India, in all the states. It is spectacular to note that, all states have at least around 100 varieties of rice. A lot of these varieties are purely medicinal in nature and must not be consumed on a daily basis.
The most commonly consumed rice varieties are polished white rice, parboiled rice, Basmati rice, red rice and brown rice. Out of these, the white polished rice is the most consumed, but it is not the healthiest. It is medium in length and thin, it is also easy to cook. All that is white is bad for health. This also includes the rice which is bran-free and processed heavily. The coloured types of Indian rice are the healthier ones. These are low in carbohydrates and rich in fibre as opposed to the white rice. The red and black rice varieties are quite thick and difficult to cook. They take very long to come to digestible consistency.
The white polished, semi-polished and parboiled rice varieties are consumed in the Central and south regions of India. Basmati rice, famed for its length, taste and long appearance, is consumed in the North of India. The Basmati is the major constituent of well-savoured dish Biryani. It is also known for its different flavours and aroma. Basmati rice is cultivated widely for its properties. The healthier and less tasty varieties of red, brown and black rice are cultivated occasionally. The ‘organic’ trend has brought some of these rice varieties back to regular consumption. Another rice variety that is extremely rare and expensive is the bamboo rice. It is purely consumed for medical purposes and is consumed rarely.
The health benefits of these rice varieties are plenty. White rice though consumed commonly, is not thought of as beneficial due to the industrial processing and polishing. Cooked white rice that is stored overnight contains a lot of health benefits. Parboiled rice gives immense strength. It is the coloured varieties that must include in the diet for health improvement. The brown and red rice varieties are mostly not processed. It is better to consume unprocessed rice.
Brown rice include the benefits of having lots of fibre and essential carbohydrates that slow down the release of sugars, useful for individuals suffering from diabetes. It is also a rich source of magnesium and calcium needed for bone health. Brown rice is also consumed for its abilities to prevent blockage in arteries, improving cardiovascular health. Red rice is preferred for better weight management. As opposed to white rice, red rice does not add on to our weight. It has lot more fibre content required for better digestion. The manganese in red rice is a bonus to the strengthening of our body metabolism, contributing to better weight management. Of course, it is to be remembered that these diet preferences are to be combined with exercises to take full effect. Black rice in India is not very prominent. It is cultivated in the North-eastern regions of India. It is very high in anti-oxidants. It is also a good source of iron and Vitamin E. It is and was known as forbidden rice, not because of its rare nature. It was exclusively served to the Chinese emperor and was forbidden to anybody else. Hence the name. But it must be consumed at least occasionally for its benefits. If you are a tourist or for medical treatment in India, make sure to try the different delicacies made with different varieties of rice.