Thinking about buying a rice cooker?
Whether it’s for health purposes, to save time, to save money or simply to cook the perfect rice there’s a number of reasons you might want to invest in a rice cooker.
Sadly, however, a rice cooker isn’t any healthier than cooking rice on a hob. The way the rice is cooked varies little to none. Instead, to cook healthier rice you’ll want to look at the rice you’re buying specifically.
For example, exchanging white rice to brown rice is one way to increase the nutritional content of your rice.
Is Rice Healthy?
As with most foods in the world, there are elements of rice that are healthy and elements that aren’t.
There are three main things which make rice a healthy option: it a quick energy source, it is generally safe for people with food sensitivities, and brown rice is a good source of fiber.
Rice is definitely a quick energy source, as it’s a great form of carbs. Unless you’re following a ketogenic diet, carbs are a good, healthy, and natural thing to have in your diet. Carbs are the main source of fuel in your body, as they’re essentially a starch which is broken down into many different sugars, only to enter the bloodstream.
These sugars are then used to power activities all over your body. White rice is especially good for this as it can be digested fairly quickly, and therefore offers speedy access to sugars, and a rapid spike in blood sugars. This can be good for athletes if they need a spike in blood sugar before an event.
Of all the grains out there, rice is the least allergenic. This means that it is a good choice for anyone you know who might have a food sensitivity or an allergy. It’s often better to play it safe with such things, as the alternative could be very dire. Rice is also naturally gluten-free, which means that it’s perfectly and easily suitable for people who suffer from celiac disease.
The thing that separates brown rice and white rice is the fact that white rice has had the hull stripped from it in the manufacturing process. This means that brown rice, which still has the hull intact, will offer more fiber in a balanced diet.
This can be good for your gut health, and it can also boost your metabolism. This high fiber content makes brown rice a great choice for a rice dish.
There are also a couple of drawbacks for rice, namely that measurable levels of arsenic have been found in rice, and that brown rice may reduce your body’s ability to absorb other nutrients.
Arsenic is a toxic carcinogen. It was used in food preparation for many years before the link was made between arsenic and the impact it has on bad health. In order to avoid having arsenic in your rice, try to buy rice that has been grown in California, India, or Pakistan.
Rice grown in these places has arsenic levels which have been found to be one-third lower than some other places. Arsenic can accumulate on the outer layer of rice, which means that brown rice may be worse for having a notable arsenic content than white rice is.
Brown rice can affect your body’s ability to absorb nutrients as it contains phytic acid, which is an antioxidant compound that is commonly found in plant foods.
Phytic acid is a well known ‘antinutrient’, and is considered that because research has found that it can block your body from being able to absorb calcium, iron, and zinc, among other minerals. Phytic acid is only found in bran, so it is only an issue with brown rice – white rice is free of it.
Does Cooking In A Rice Cooker Make Rice Healthier?
While cooking your rice in a rice cooker might not have any true effect on the healthiness of the rice on the face of it, there are a few things which you might need to look out for when cooking your rice with a rice cooker.
It is really important to remember to clean your rice cooker regularly. This is important as they can be prone to mold buildup, especially in the steamer section of your rice cooker. Suffice to say, having mold near your food isn’t healthy.
For a similar reason, it’s worth making sure to clean your rice before you put it into your rice cooker. A rice cooker will keep your rice at a good temperature for as long as it needs to until you come to eat it.
Because of this, it is an ideal place for trace elements of contaminants to thrive. In order to avoid this, give your rice a thorough wash before you cook it in your rice cooker.
The fact that a rice cooker will maintain a temperature also means that you need to avoid keeping the rice in the rice cooker for longer than twenty-four hours.
If you allow the rice to stay in that humid, warm environment, you may be allowing bacteria such as bacillus cereus to grow on your food. Therefore, it’s worth throwing away any unused rice before the twenty-four-hour window elapses, and thoroughly cleaning your rice cooker.
You also need to make sure you buy a rice cooker which is BPA-free. BPA is found in the non-stick coating of cheaply made rice cookers, and it is a known carcinogen. For that reason, it’s worth spending a little more to ensure your safety.
To sum up: while a rice cooker doesn’t make the rice itself more healthy, it can actually pose several new dangers which you may need to look out for if you’ll be routinely using it.