Part of what makes choosing the healthiest rice difficult is the many, many varieties. Last week, Padmaja asked whether a particular brand of rice that claims to be good for diabetics because it has a low Glycemic Index (GI) number is truly good. (The GI describes how quickly a food is converted into glucose or blood sugar, and how much of it. The lower the GI number, the better.)
Here is the Basmati rice brand she asked about: http://www.amazon.com/Laxmi-Basmati-Lower-Glycemic-Diabetics/dp/B0077S75NI.
It's too bad I don't have a good answer about this specific brand. This is because I can't find a GI number done by an independent (and thus unbiased) academic lab for this particular rice, as I can for others.
But by looking at the various rice varieties studied by academic centers for their GI values, I am able to explain general principles that I feel will help Padmaja and also yourself make an educated decision on what rice to eat for good health. Here they are:(Click "Read More" below.)
I dined with my family at an Indo-Chinese restaurant this weekend, and yet again no brown rice on the menu. Of the last 5 Indian restaurants I've eaten at this past half-year, 4 offered white rice only. (Read why brown rice is better.)
This experience has led me to highlight a restaurant in Houston that puts brown rice on the menu: Masala Wok. For each curry dish there are two options for the same price: (1) white rice plus naan, or (2) brown rice with no naan. The easy way to think about this is (1) more food, or (2) less food. Fair enough. (Read on!)
Ever tried making brown rice for breakfast? Me either, but this is what Mark Bittman admits to doing in his piece in the NY Times. And the next open morning I get, I'm going to give it a try. Mr. Bittman explains how brown rice has become mainstream (which it true as you can find it at Wal-Mart and even ethnic grocers and restaurants) and gives us a few easy recipes. The recipes look delicious. I'm a believer that if we all switched from white rice to brown rice, we'd all be healthier. (See the evidence here and here.) But I know it's hard to make the switch because white rice tastes so good. But brown rice tastes good too, and in addition to our excellent masala brown rice recipe in "The Healthy Indian Diet" (a dish I make at least once a week, often with curry sauce and always with turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon and sautéd vegetables) I feel Mr. Bittman's recipes are worth adding to the repertoire! By the way, you can learn much by reading comments. For example, here's a great rice cooker named the Zojirushi for making brown rice, which is less convenient than white rice (which is pure starch and quick to cook). A couple people also explain exactly why brown rice is healthier than white rice: there's nutrition in the brown parts of the rice grain that are removed to make white rice. Overall, Mr. Bittman's concise piece on brown rice is worth a read if not for an understanding of what constitutes brown rice and all of its varieties, then for the recipe ideas.