The healthiest types of rice: Basmati rice, wild rice, brown rice, red rice, and delicious recipes to follow

The healthiest types of rice: Basmati rice, wild rice, brown rice, red rice, and delicious recipes to follow

Good grains

Text: Amelia Chia

It's the year 1998 and you're seated at the dinner table with your family, inhaling a bowl of white rice — the staple carbohydrate at home. "Finish your rice, or your future spouse will have pimples," said Mum, repeating a popular saying in those days. Every grain of rice left behind was how many blemishes your husband or wife might have.

There was no other option. It was white rice or nothing, and we were told it was good for us. These days, we're inundated by many other varieties of rice — basmati, wild, brown, and red, which have more nutritional value than what we're used to. While white rice isn't bad per se — they are still a good source of energy despite lower amounts of vitamin B and minerals than other rice types — we should include their wholegrain counterparts as and when we can.

"Red and wild rice have the highest levels of antioxidants but it can be costly," says Jaclyn Reutens, clinical dietician and founder of APTIMA Nutrition. "Brown rice is a healthier alternative to white rice as its fibre content is much higher. Finally, for those who are not used to a grainy texture when it comes to rice, basmati rice is a great option."

Below, Reutens shares the benefits of basmati, wild, brown, and red rice and a few simple, delicious recipes to try in your kitchen.

White rice used to be the only option in our childhood

Basmati rice

Basmati rice is a long-grain white rice that takes a longer time to digest than  their shorter grain counterparts, making it useful for weight loss by keeping you fuller longer. It has a low glycemic index and is highly recommended for diabetics who need a sustained release of energy to prevent blood sugar spikes. To up those benefits further, go for the brown version of basmati rice with the bran and germ still intact, as it packs in more fibre, vitamin B, and minerals.

*1 cup basmati rice provides 172 calories, 34.6g carbohydrates, 3.6g protein.

Basmati Rice Pilaf
erves 2

Here's what you need:
1 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup of raw basmati rice, washed
2 cups of vegetable stock
Chopped almonds
Chopped chives

How to make it:
1. Melt butter over medium heat. Add the onions and cook till they start to brown.
2. Add garlic. Stir in. Add in rice and stir for two minutes.
3. Add in stock and bring to boil.
4. Cover the pan and simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes.
5. Garnish with chives and almonds and serve.

Brown basmati rice packs in the most fibre, vitamin B, and minerals

Brown rice

Brown rice is a wholegrain rice that still has the fibrous bran layer and germ. It contains a myriad of antioxidants, vitamin B, and minerals such as iron potassium, zinc and magnesium — and has three times the fibre content of white rice. Brown rice is useful for weight control, cholesterol reduction, as well as improving bowel movements.

*1 cup of brown rice provides 214 calories, 44g carbohydrates, 5g protein.

Easy Brown Rice Bibimbap
Serves 2

Here's what you need:
1 tbsp canola oil
1 medium carrot, julienned
1 small zucchini, julienned
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup bean sprouts
1/2 cup baby spinach
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
1/2 tbsp chilli sauce
2 eggs
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 tsp sesame oil

How to make it:
1. Heat canola oil and add in carrots, zucchini and mushrooms. Stir for three to five minutes.
2. Add in remaining vegetables, water, soy sauce and chilli sauce. Stir for two to three minutes and remove from heat.
3. Fry an egg sunny side up style, leaving the yolk slightly watery. Set aside.
4. Serve hot brown rice topped with vegetables. Drizzle with sesame oil and top with fried egg.

Brown rice is useful for weight control and cholesterol reduction

Red rice

Red rice obtains its rich deep red colour from nutrient-packed plant pigments called anthocyanins. Red rice is higher in protein, fibre, and flavonoids than other types of rice. These antioxidants have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease by thwarting free radical damage, while flavonoids help to reduce inflammation and improve your immune system. It has a unique delicious nutty flavour.

*1 cup cooked red rice provides 277 calories, 56g carbohydrates, 7g protein.

Aromatic Red Rice
Serves 4

Here's what you need:
1 cup red rice, raw
Sea salt
1 medium onion, halved
4 whole cloves
1 small dried chilli, crushed

How to make it:
1. In a saucepan, boil two cups of water and add in rice and a pinch of salt.
2. Stick cloves into onion halves and add into pot with chilli.
3. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.
4. Fluff with a fork before serving.

Red rice is higher in protein, fibre and flavonoids than other types of rice

Wild rice

Here's some food for thought: wild rice is not technically a rice, but the seed of an aquatic plant. It is higher in protein than rice, contains a good amount of carbohydrates and fibre, vitamins and minerals. Because of its very high fibre content, wild rice can keep you satiated for a prolonged amount of time. It has also proven to reduce blood lipid levels and improve insulin resistance.

*1 cup of wild rice provides 140 calories, 26.8g carbohydrates, 5.6g protein.

Wild Rice with Chicken and Asparagus
Serves 2

Here's what you need:
1/2 boneless chicken breast, cubed
1 cup wild rice, cooked
200g asparagus, cut into one-inch pieces
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp peanut oil
1/2 tbsp brown sugar

How to make it:
1. Mix hoisin sauce and brown sugar in a bowl.
2. Over high heat, add one tbsp of oil and stir fry asparagus for two minutes. Set aside.
3. Add in remaining oil and fry the chicken pieces for a few minutes. Add in asparagus and sauce mixture and mix well.
4. Serve over hot wild rice.

Jaclyn Reutens is a clinical dietitian and the founder of APTIMA Nutrition located at Camden Medical Centre. She graduated from Flinders University of South Australia and is also a certified sports dietitian. Equipped with more than 17 years of experience in the nutrition and dietetics field, she is an expert in lifestyle problems such as weight management, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and digestive problems.