A pregnant woman’s diet and lifestyle play a crucial role in the healthy progression of the pregnancy and the well-being of the unborn baby. It is a well-known fact, for half of the world population (particularly in East and Southeast Asia), rice is a staple food. Eating brown rice during pregnancy can be much healthier than eating white rice.
Wondering how the color of the rice makes brown rice during pregnancy a healthier option? Read on to understand more about brown rice and why eating brown rice during pregnancy is the healthier option.
Brown rice is nothing but whole-grain rice. Only the outer hull is removed, while the bran layer and cereal germ will remain intact. Brown rice has a gentle, nutty flavor, and is chewier. Whole brown rice normally requires more cooking time than white rice. You can bypass this issue by using broken brown rice.
If the hull, bran layer, and germ are removed from the same grain, it is our normal white rice. The rice grains can have a differently pigmented outer layer. Therefore, other than brown rice, you can also find different varieties of whole rice like red rice, gold rice, and black rice (purple rice).
Brown rice nutrition facts:
Yes. If you are craving rice, brown rice is a healthy option. As explained above, its nutrition content is quite impressive and offers a number of health benefits. When consumed in moderation, it will be a nutrient-rich addition to your pregnancy menu.
Brown rice during pregnancy is considered to be a healthy option due to the following reasons:
The biggest benefit of brown rice during pregnancy is, it reduces your LDL (bad cholesterol and improves your HDL (good cholesterol).
Everyone talks about vitamins and proteins when it comes to good health. Brown rice is rich in manganese, the mineral that is very important in the development of bones, regulating the sugar levels in the blood, functioning of the nerve, and also healing wounds.
A deficiency in manganese can cause serious health issues like low fertility, and growth impairment.
Eating brown rice during pregnancy can be good for you as it is rich in flavonoids and phenols, a category of antioxidants that protects our bodies from oxidative stress.
These antioxidants also protect the heart, skin from premature aging and injury to the cells that are caused by free radicals.
Consuming brown rice during pregnancy can help with insomnia as it contains melatonin, a “sleep” hormone that unwinds the nerves and, thereby enhancing the quality of sleep. It also has some elements which are very beneficial in combating stress and mood swings during pregnancy.
The fiber content of brown rice helps not only to balance the blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar levels but also makes you feel full. It enhances bowel movement and thereby brings relief from other troubling conditions during pregnancy such as constipation. Brown rice during pregnancy also protects pregnant women from cardiovascular diseases.
Brown rice has a diuretic property (increasing the frequency of urination). This property of brown rice is beneficial for pregnant women to prevent the risk of urogenital issues.
Brown rice contains niacin, a coenzyme needed for energy production. It also has high amounts of carbohydrates, another source of energy. Any pregnant woman would tell you how tired she feels all the time, especially as the pregnancy progresses. Therefore, eating brown rice during pregnancy will help to boost your energy level.
High blood pressure during pregnancy can lead to many complications during and even before the delivery itself. Brown rice has low sodium content. Therefore, consuming brown rice during pregnancy helps to regulate blood pressure which is very important for a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery.
Brown rice is a rich source of neurotransmitter nutrients that helps in the baby’s brain development and (future) cognitive functions.
Weight gain during pregnancy is something you cannot really control. While gaining weight is a healthy progression of the pregnancy, gaining too much weight too soon may cause other complications. Eating brown rice during pregnancy can help you keep your weight gain in check.
This is because this variety of rice is rich in fiber and keeps you feeling full longer. Though there is not much difference between white rice and brown rice calories, there is a significant difference in their starch levels. Brown rice does not make you gain weight as fast as white rice.
Brown rice during pregnancy is important for the bones. Magnesium, along with calcium, gives the bones their physical structure. Brown rice also has a significant amount of essential nutrients such as vitamin D, thiamine, and riboflavin which help to strengthen bones and teeth.
The developing fetus takes all that it needs from the mother’s body. If the mother’s bones are not strong, not only will the growing baby lose out on essential calcium content, but the mother will also be prone to bone-related issues in the future.
The presence of large insoluble fiber and its low glycemic content make brown rice an apt food to regulate your blood sugar levels during pregnancy. Therefore, eating brown rice during pregnancy helps combat gestational diabetes, which is common during pregnancy.
Being rich in antioxidants, brown rice helps to fight the free radicals in your body. This prevents certain types of cancer and increases the expecting mother’s strength to fight infections.
Being a good source of fiber, brown rice helps you feel full. Do you know one of the tactics for combating morning sickness is to not get hungry? Well, brown rice can help the symptoms of nausea to subside.
Brown rice calories do not differ from that of white rice. The difference lies in the nutritional value.
Only the husk is removed to make the brown rice, which leaves all the inherited nutrient content in this super grain intact. This is a major reason why brown rice during pregnancy is a healthy option.
In the case of white rice, layers below the husk are also removed. Therefore, only the starchy endosperm remains. In other words, numerous vitamins and minerals in the grain will be lost during this process. As the barn is removed, the oil that is present in the barn, which is highly nutritious, is also removed from white rice.
White rice is starchy which in turn increases the glucose content in your blood. It also takes time to digest this type. Eating white rice can also hinder your sleep at night.
Brown rice, on the other hand, is a powerhouse of nutrients. It is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, fiber, proteins, magnesium, selenium, and manganese.
Daily consumption of brown rice is not considered safe. Because it has a very high arsenic content. Arsenic increases the risk of death of the fetus. Therefore, overeating brown rice should be avoided.
If you are not diagnosed with gestational diabetes or are not put on any specific rice-free diet, you can alternate between white and brown rice to satiate those cravings.
When it comes to eating during pregnancy, moderation is the key. Be it white rice or brown rice during pregnancy; do not overload. Ensure your rice is well cooked, to avoid any constipation or other digestion-related issues.
If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes or are gaining too much weight too fast, your doctor might advise you to reduce your rice intake. Though the benefits of brown rice during pregnancy are many, eating too much of it is not advisable.
Arsenic is of two types – organic, which is found naturally in groundwater and soil; inorganic- which is found in chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Either way, you can’t overlook the chances of excessive arsenic levels in brown rice. Since the bran has a considerable amount of arsenic, brown rice contains more arsenic than white rice.
When you cook the brown rice in a large quantity of water, the arsenic content will decrease. On the flip side, boiling the rice for long can also bring down some of the protein and nutrition contents.
You can easily find brown rice at any grocery store. It is recommended to opt for organic brown rice as its arsenic content will be less.
Always store brown rice in an airtight container. Keep it away from heat, light, and moisture. If you follow this, the shelf life of brown rice will be around six months. If you want to extend it, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator or even the freezer.
Brown rice during pregnancy can be a great addition to your diet as seen above. However, only your gynecologist who knows your medical history can guide you properly. Check with them; if they give you a go-ahead for consuming brown rice during pregnancy, you can always search for brown rice recipes and enjoy hearty meals.