Especially popular in Indian cuisine, basmati rice has been cultivated at the foot of the Himalayan Mountains for centuries. Basmati is an aromatic long-grained, gluten free rice that cooks to a non-sticky, fluffy consistency, making it ideal for curries. Available in brown and white varieties, brown basmati is less processed, which preserves more fibre and whole grain nutritional value.
Carbohydrates and Fat
One cup of cooked brown basmati rice provides 216 calories. Basmati contains complex carbohydrates -- 45g per cup -- that help provide energy for the brain and nervous system. It doesn't contain fat, sodium or gluten. In addition, basmati is cholesterol free and may help balance cholesterol levels. A study by Louisiana State University used volunteers with moderately elevated cholesterol levels to conclude that brown rice oil, rather than its bran, reduces LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, as published in January 2005 "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition."
Basmati rice is the leader in essential nutritional content and amino acids for all types of rice. Per cup, it provides 10 per cent RDA (recommended daily allowance) for protein. It's also a good source of magnesium -- 84 mg per cup, or 21 per cent RDA -- which assists with insulin secretion in the body and helps control blood pressure, and it contains about 2 mg per cup of manganese, essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates and protein. The vitamin B content in brown basmati rice, especially niacin, vitamins B-6, B-1 and thiamine, benefits metabolic function, such as blood circulation, digestion and brain function. Other nutrients found in basmati rice include calcium, for healthy bones; potassium, crucial for heart function; copper and zinc; the antioxidant vitamin E; vitamin K for blood clotting and iron for red blood cells.
The glycemic index, or GI, is a measurement of how fast a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood glucose levels in the body. Foods with a high GI value raise blood sugar fastest. Whole grains, such as rice, have a low GI, meaning they're digested slower and may improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Basmati rice contains a high amount of amylase, a component of starch, which accounts for its low GI value. University Putra Malaysia studied the effect of low GI foods, including rice, in Asians with diabetes, demonstrating that the group with the lowest dietary GI index consumed more foods such as basmati rice, and had a reduction in haemoglobin levels.
Protection Against Cancer
Brown basmati rice contains 3.5g of fibre per cup or 14 per cent RDA, which is twice the amount of insoluble fibre than contained in the white variety. Fibre is necessary for healthy bowels and digestion and may help protect against a variety of cancers. Basmati rice also supplies 27 per cent RDA per cup of selenium, which may substantially reduce the risk of colon, breast, stomach, esophageal, prostate, liver and bladder cancers. According to Natural News, selenium may induce DNA repair and synthesis in damaged cells, preventing tumour development. In addition, selenium may aid in reducing the progression of cancer.