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Does Washing Rice Get Rid of Nutrients?

Dr Paramesh S

Dr Paramesh S

  Kalyan nagar, Bengaluru     Sep 11, 2017

   6 min     

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Is it necessary to wash rice before cooking?

Washing the rice before cooking it seems like a frustrating and unwanted chore. You find yourself questioning, “Is it even required? Doesn’t the internet suggest that it isn’t necessary.” This article might help you decide if washing rice before getting might risk losing all the nutrients.

Some articles on the internet tell us that it is essential to wash the rice before cooking. In fact, we should keep washing the rice until the water becomes almost clear. At the same time, other articles say that we should not wash the rice before cooking it, as that might result in the rice losing important nutrients.

A little more internet search told me that only enriched, American rice should not be washed before cooking it as it gets rid of the nutrients on the outer coating. This is because there is a slight difference in the production and packaging of the enriched, American rice when compared to most other kinds of rice.

Usually, when the rice grains are milled, they are rid of outer husk and bran layers and leave them with the white, translucent grain, while when it comes to brown rice, the husk is removed, but the nutritious bran layer is still intact.

Now according to ceratin FDA regulations in the United States of America, the white rice millers are supposed to add the nutrients back to the rice grains, so it is as healthy and nutritious as the brown rice along with the bran layer. So basically, before the rice is packaged to be sold, the millers add a coat of vitamins and minerals. This means that if you do wash the rice, the newly added layer of vitamins and other nutrients gets washed away, and you will be left with normal, natural, white rice, making the whole process of adding the nutrients redundant.

But enriched rice is an American product, and once you figure that out, you’ll know that it is not to be washed. It is usually mentioned in the package or label that the product has been enriched with nutrients.

Now, the rice that is usually sold and isn’t American, they haven’t undergone the nutrient enrichment process. So, washing such kind of rice will not affect the nutrients in it. 

Reasons why you should wash the rice

The outer nutrient coating might contain unhealthy substances.

Some articles say that the outer coat that is added onto the rice grains might contain harmful substances like talcum powder or unwanted chemicals. In some cases, when rice is being manufactured, the companies might add in talcum powder to make the rice grains look cleaner, whiter appearance, though nowadays the talc powder is said to be replaced with glucose powder. Either way, when such powders are added it is assumed that the rice will be washed before cooking.

Rice might contain pesticides and similar such chemicals.

Since rice is grown in fields where the crops are prone to be attacked by insects, fungi, rodents, etc. farmers usually douse the crops in insecticides, fungus, and everything that keeps the crops from being ruined. These insect repellents may tend to stick to the rice crops, making it more effective against insects and fungi.

Now, there has been no solid proof that tells that these pesticides could stick in the rice grain, but there are chances of traces being left. Most repellents are supposed to be harmless, or it might get banned. And consuming the repellants in small amounts continuously for an extended period could also affect your body, and you might contract diseases.

But it is always better to be safe than sorry! 

So, do not take a chance and wash the rice before cooking.

Arsenic Risk

Rice tends to pick up the naturally-occurring arsenic from the soil. Rice tends to do this rather than any other crop. And if children or pregnant women are fed this rice, it may cause problems with the child’s growth and development.

In order to reduce risk, parents are recommended to feed babies and toddlers with a variety of grains rather than just rice. 

Rinsing doesn’t have a significant effect on the arsenic content in the rice, but something is better than nothing. It can be more effective if the rice is cooked in an excess amount of water and then drain the extra water after cooking.

Starch on rice

This reason has nothing to do with health benefits or harmful repellants. Rice grains always have surface starch on them, and when you cook the rice without washing it, rice tends to be sticky. So, by soaking the rice, it absorbs the water and cooks well. This way, the rice has better texture, and won’t dry out before the whole grain is evenly steamed and fluffed.

How to rinse the rice?

Pour the rice into a bowl. See to that the container is wide enough for you to stir the rice. Then add in water to the container to completely submerge the rice. Since the water is going to be drained, it is all right to use tap water.

Stir the submerged rice with your hands. Remember to rinse your hands before stirring the rice. Stirring will result in the rice rubbing against itself, which in turn will Scarpe the starch off. Don’t stir vigorously; you don’t want to damage the rice grains.

Now drain out the starchy water and any other unwanted remnants that float on it. The rice will have sunk to the bottom of the container, so substances that float are unwanted. To ensure that you don’t lose any rice grains, pour the water through the palm of your hand. That way, you can catch any rice grains that slip out. 

Keep repeating this process until the water turns from dirty or an opaque, milky white to clear water or almost clear.

The next step is optional, but follow it as it is very useful. Just ball your fists and punch the rice gently. This is a way of polishing the rice against each other to ensure nice and fluffy, cooked rice.

Rinse and repeat the above process a few more times. After which, you can soak the rice, which will add in moisture and ensure a consistent texture while you cook it.

Conclusion

From everything that we have here, what I can surmise is that, if you have bought yourself the enriched, American rice, you do not need to wash it, thus retaining the vitamins and nutrients that you were afraid of losing. On the other hand, the rice still retains its natural nutrients, so you are not missing much by rinsing and soaking it.

Now if your rice is not the enriched one, always rinse it. This helps prevent stickiness and will remove unwanted adulterants such as talcum powder, glucose powder, baking soda, etc. It will also remove the trace amounts of substances like fungicides and other repellants.

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Tags:  Nutrition,Health,food,rice

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