Food spotlight: Parboiled Rice … ???

I recently discovered that the funny looking rice at the store, called parboiled rice, has several benefits over regular or even good old, healthy brown rice.

First, it’s easier and quicker to fix than regular brown rice, which can take so much time and preparation that many folks just give up and fall back on minute-style rice. Parboiled rice, even parboiled brown rice, cooks just as quickly as plain old white rice.

Then there’s the vital issue of nutrients. I mean, why bother eating something that’s not going to give you something in return – like energy, clearer thinking, or other health benefits? True, brown rice is much better for you than white rice (and much, much better than quickie rice) simply because the white rice has had most of the nutrients removed in the “polishing” process.

While white rice loses vitamins, minerals and fiber during the milling and polishing process, brown rice arrives in grocery stores with only its outer hull removed. It contains four times the insoluble fiber of white rice and packs a punch of niacin, vitamin B6, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium and vitamin E. It also contains the amino acid lysine and protein.

According to the Columbia News Service, brown rice, like other whole grains, has been found to reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease and rectal cancer. An obesity study conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health showed that women who consistently consumed more whole grains weighed less than women who consumed fewer.

But, like I said before, no matter how good for you brown rice may be, if it’s too much trouble to cook, no one will get those great benefits. Enter parboiled brown rice …

This following info comes from Rice Gourmet’s web site, at
The process of parboiling is from south India where steam was passed through the grains with the husks on. The nutrients are embedded into the grain by this procedure. The rice is polished after this steaming is done. This results in more nutritious rice than white rice and more digestible rice than brown rice. Also, This procedure gelatinizes the starch in the grain, and ensures a firmer, more separate grain. Consumers and chefs who desire extra fluffy and separate cooked rice favor parboiled rice.

BOTTOM LINE: if you want rice that is both easy to cook and very nutritious, go for parboiled brown. It tastes better than white rice, too, in my opinion. It still has that nutty flavor of the traditional brown variety.

Also from Rice Gourmet’s web site are these cooking hints: This rice requires no rinsing due to its enrichment. Bring 1 part rice and 2 parts salted liquid to a boil; lower the heat. Cook, covered, for 15 minutes.

But in my own experience, find a rice steamer. The difference in flavor, texture, and ease of cooking is worth whatever you pay. I’m on my second steamer and I wouldn’t consider cooking rice any other way. Be sure the steamer has a separate bowl container for the rice.

Eat lots of rice. It’s good for you … and it’s cheap!


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