As Filipinos, rice plays an important role in our diet. We have it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and it’s also an ingredient in many kakanin snacks. The thing is, delicious as it may be, it’s not exactly healthy. White rice is highly-processed and can increase blood sugar levels. According to Harvard Medical School, consuming white rice “has almost the same effect as eating pure table sugar.”
When we want to lose weight, one of the things we try to give up is white rice. But because it makes up a big part of our meals, it’s hard to eliminate it from our diet. Here, we list down some alternatives to help start your fitness journey:
You’ve probably seen the word quinoa in healthy restaurants but what is it exactly? It’s a plant that’s packed with protein, fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E, and various beneficial antioxidants. It also has a low glycemic index, which means it doesn’t raise your blood sugar levels. Quinoa can help with weight loss because of the protein content, which can increase metabolism and reduce the appetite, and fiber, which increases feelings of fullness. Buy quinoa here.
Like quinoa, adlai has enjoyed fame as a superfood. It’s also known as Job’s tears. Adlai is also filled with fiber, protein, and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, iron, niacin, thiamine, and riboflavin. It also has a low glycemic index. What we love about adlai is that it is grown here. It is cultivated in Northern Mindanao, Sagada, Mountain Province, and Zamboanga. Buy adlai here.
Cauliflower or broccoli rice
As the name suggests, cauliflower and broccoli rice is made of…. cauliflower and broccoli. All you need to do is:
- Grate, finely chop, or add cauliflower or broccoli in a blender or food processor
- Drain excess moisture
Broccoli is rich in fiber and protein, and has iron, potassium, calcium, selenium, and magnesium. It also has vitamins A, C, E, K, and B vitamins. Meanwhile, cauliflower is a heart-friendly vegetable with antioxidants and can support gut health, balance hormones, and improve mood, memory, and recall. Buy broccoli here, and buy cauliflower here.
Freekeh may not be super popular here, but it is enjoyed widely in North African countries like Morocco. It’s a type of cereal made from wheat, which has been roasted or smoked, then shelled. It’s high in fiber and protein, and contains prebiotics to nourish gut health. Freekeh is also high in high calcium, zinc, and iron.
You might know shirataki noodles but there’s also a rice variant that you can use as a substitute for lunch or dinner. Shirataki rice is made from konjac root, which is rich in glucomannan, a highly-viscous fiber. It’s low in calories and carbs. Shirataki rice moves through the digestive system slowly, so you feel full longer. It also works as a prebiotic, so it nourishes your gut flora. Buy shirataki rice here.
Couscous is technically a pasta, but it looks like a grain so it can be a rice substitute. It’s made from semolina flour and contains protein and fiber. It also has calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and vitamins B and E. Get the whole-wheat version to get more protein and fiber. Buy couscous here.
Bulgur is a whole grain popular in the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean regions. It’s packed with complex carbohydrates, fiber, and protein. It’s also cholesterol-free, fat-free, and low in sodium. Apart from these features, bulgur has iron to make red blood cells, improves heart health, promotes healthy gut bacteria, and improves metabolism. Buy bulgur here.
Surprisingly, buckwheat is a seed but because of its shape, can be enjoyed like a grain. Buckwheat is high in protein and fiber but low in fat, making it a good choice for those who want to cut back on their rice. Buckwheat is also high in magnesium, which can support bone health and energy levels. It also contains B vitamins, iron, and zinc. Buy buckwheat here.
Farro is a whole grain bursting with protein and fiber. It’s also rich in nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants. All these help lessen the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cognitive decline. Buy farro here.
Brown, red, or black rice
Of course, rice can be hard to give up and we get that. Thankfully, there are many variants of rice that are healthier than the white kind.
For example, brown rice maintains the bran (the outer edible layer of the rice grain) and the germ (the reproductive part of the grain), which are removed when producing white rice. These are the most nutrient-dense part of the grain. By removing it, white rice loses calcium, fat, B vitamins, protein, and magnesium. Brown rice has more fiber and protein, and a lower glycemic index. Meanwhile, red rice has “higher concentrations of flavonoid antioxidants than brown rice.” Lastly, research shows that black rice has the highest antioxidant activity out of all the variants available. Buy brown rice here, buy red rice here, and buy black rice here.
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