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Wild Rice – A Superfood with Numerous Health Benefits

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Wild rice (Zizania aquatica or Zizania Palustris) is not your regular rice; it is aquatic grass. It grows in shallow freshwater marshes and along the banks of lakes and rivers in its natural habitat. There are several varieties of it; Zizania Palustris or Northern wild rice is one of the most commonly available. It is a whole grain that is very nutritious and offers numerous health benefits.

Wild rice is a popular “grain” in North America, believed to originate in the United States and Canada. It’s a semi-aquatic grass that grows in lakes, rivers, and bays. Other wild rice types include Zizania Texana, cultivated north of San Antonio, Texas, and Zizania Latifolia, produced in Asia and known for its greens. It germinates in the mud underwater and starts growing until it reaches maturity during the shorter season.

Research has shown that wild rice is a powerful antioxidant and lipid-lowering agent. It’s also rich in dietary fibre, and sufficient nutritional fibre is essential for keeping a low cholesterol level. In addition, wild rice is an excellent source of Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA).

The HealthifyMe Note

Wild rice was first cultivated and harvested by Americans. They have used grain as a staple food for hundreds of years. It’s only referred to as rice because it produces edible seeds which resemble rice. However, it tends to have a stronger flavour and is quite expensive. 

Nutritional Properties of Wild Rice

As per USDA, 100g of raw wild rice holds the following nutritional values.

Energy: 357 kcalProtein: 14.7 gFat: 1.08 gCarbohydrate: 74.9 gFibre: 6.2 gCalcium: 21mgMagnesium: 177 mgPotassium: 427 mgPhosphorus: 433 mgZinc: 5.96 mg

In raw wild rice, sugar accounts for only 2.5 grams of the total carbohydrate intake. Next is fibre, which studies link to a lower risk of heart disease, increased life expectancy, and a lower risk of colon cancer.

Wild rice is a well-balanced diet with a significant amount of protein, roughly 14.7 grams in 1-cup of serving. It may not seem like much, but additional protein sources like lean meat and beans may make for a protein-dense meal. According to the USDA, adults should consume between 46 and 56 grams of protein daily. Moreover, wild rice has a glycemic index of 53, making it a low-GI food. Thus, selecting foods with a low glycaemic index may contribute to blood sugar control.

Wild rice is a naturally fat-free and cholesterol-free food with only 1.08 grams per serving. This rice can be a good option for people on a low-fat diet. However, it is not a significant source of omega-3 fatty acids. Wild rice is high in micronutrients but low in vitamins. On the other hand, manganese is an abundant antioxidant in wild rice, and it helps with the health of the cells’ mitochondria. 

Wild rice contains a minimal amount of calories. The USDA suggests between 1,600 and 2,400 calories per day for adults. Therefore, each 100g portion of raw wild rice provides just 357kcal, which is relatively low. Furthermore, because wild rice is gluten-free, it is a healthy alternative for people with celiac disease.

The HealthifyMe Note

Wild rice is gluten-free, making it a healthy choice for people with celiac disease. It’s also low-fat, low-calorie, and cholesterol-free, making it a suitable choice for people on a low-fat diet or weight loss journey. However, if you wish to incorporate this rice into your diet, talk to your doctor first.

Health Benefits of Wild Rice

Source of Antioxidants

According to research, wild rice contains antioxidants that neutralise free radicals, the dangerous by-products of cellular metabolism that can cause healthy cells to mutate or become cancerous. As a result, wild rice prevents the signs of ageing, such as wrinkles and age spots, and promotes the healing of blemishes. In addition, antioxidants can help to prevent macular degeneration and cataract.

It is 30 times as rich in antioxidants as white rice and protects your body from illnesses. It also helps you age gracefully. They can protect against ageing and reduce the risk of cancer. 

Heart-Friendly

Wild rice is good for heart health as it contains nutrients that help boost heart health. Wild rice consists of no sodium, which helps reduce blood pressure. It also includes a high level of fibre, known to clear out bad cholesterol from the cardiovascular system.

According to a study, it reduces the risk of atherosclerosis. It also eliminates strain on the heart. Moreover, it boosts repair and controls damage with a high vitamin C content. Hence, it is the perfect food for a heart patient.

Improves Digestion

Wild rice contains an impressive amount of dietary fibre. Studies show besides optimising the cholesterol balance, the fibre also bulks up the stool and eases the digestive process by facilitating peristalsis.

As a result, dietary fibres help eliminate constipation. It also helps prevent diarrhoea, bloating, cramping, excess flatulence, and more serious gastrointestinal concerns, such as colorectal cancer, gastric ulcers, and haemorrhoids.

Boosts Immunity

Increasing a person’s immunity is one of the best ways to improve their health. One of the best ways to boost your immunity is by consuming more vitamin C, which is significantly present in wild rice.

According to research, vitamin C stimulates the production of white blood cells, which acts as a defence mechanism against foreign agents, pathogens, and microbes. Furthermore, vitamin C is a critical component of collagen. Therefore, it is needed to generate and repair cells, organs, tissues, and blood vessel walls helping one recover from an illness.

Wild Rice Promotes Growth and Repair

According to a study, the high protein content found in wild rice can be good for increasing muscle mass, growth, and development in the human body. Proteins are building blocks of amino acids, so adequate protein levels are essential for overall health. Wild rice can be a great option, particularly for vegetarians who don’t opt for animal proteins in their diet.

Strengthens the Bones

Human bodies begin to break down and become weak with age, especially the bones. Restoring phosphorus-rich foods like wild rice can be beneficial to maintaining strong bones.

According to a study, phosphorus and zinc are essential for maintaining bone mineral density and ensuring strong bones and joints with ageing. If a person is susceptible to Osteoporosis or has already started to feel aches in the bones, switching to wild rice will be a wise option.

Prevents Congenital Disabilities

Folate or folic acid, also known as vitamin B6, is plentiful in wild rice and has been demonstrated to protect newborns from neural tube defects. For vital health benefits, expectant mothers should include wild rice in their diet, especially if they aren’t getting enough B-vitamins daily.

Aids Weight Loss

Wild rice can help those attempting to lose weight and prevent obesity as a low-calorie and gluten-free food. Wild rice has a different impact than white rice, which can bulk up a person’s diet and make them gain weight. According to research, it prevents overeating due to high fibre and nutrient content without supplying high calories. One approach to combat this is to consume food rich in essential minerals, which wild rice can provide.

The HealthifyMe Note

Wild rice is alkaline, which helps to maintain a healthy alkaline balance in the body and reduce inflammation. In addition, the consumption of wild rice decreases fatigue by providing essential nutrients to the body, and it’s high in magnesium, which helps you feel more energised. Furthermore, it helps lose weight, aids digestion, improves heart health and offers several other health benefits.

Healthy Recipes Using Wild Rice

Herbed Wild Rice Salad

Preparation Time: 1hr

Serving: 4

Ingredients

Wild rice: 1 cupCold water: 8 cupSea saltFinely chopped chives: 2 tbspFinely chopped mint: 2 tbspFinely chopped parsley: 2 tbspLemon juice: 1 tbspOlive oil: 2 tbsp

Method of Preparation

In a large saucepan, take rice and water and cover, add one teaspoon of salt and boil it. Cover and cook for about 1 hour over low heat until the wild rice is soft but still chewy. Drain the wild rice well.Toss the wild rice with the herbs, chives, mint, parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil. Season with salt and serve.

Wild Rice Salad with Grapes, Beets, and Pecans

Preparation Time: 1hr

Servings: 8-10

Ingredients

Wild rice rinsed and drained: 2 cups (12 ounces)Kosher saltPepperBaby golden beets: 12Extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for rubbing: ¼ cupPecans: 1½ cupsApple cider vinegar: ¼ cup + 1 tbspShallot, minced: 1 smallSeedless green grapes (10 ounces), halved: 2 cupsArugula (not baby) (thick stems discarded and leaves chopped): 5 ounces

Method of Preparation

Preheat the oven up to 400 °. Cover the rice with at least 3 inches of water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Add a generous pinch of salt and simmer over moderate heat until the rice becomes tender for about 45 minutes. Drain it and then spread it on a large baking sheet to cool. Stir it occasionally. Season the beets with salt and pepper after rubbing them with olive oil. Roast for about 30 minutes until tender and let it cool, then rub off the skins and cut into 1/2-inch wedges.Spread the pecans on a pie plate and bake for about 10 minutes until fragrant and browned. Let it cool, and coarsely chop it.Whisk the vinegar with the shallot in 1/4 cup olive oil in a large serving bowl. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes. Add rice, beets, and grapes and toss well. Season with salt and pepper; toss again. Serve it with arugula and pecans.

Wild Rice and Mushroom Pilaf with Cranberry

Preparation Time: 55min

Servings: 8

Ingredients

Long-grain and wild rice blend: 1½ cupsDried cranberries: ¾ cupOlive oil: 3 tbspOnion chopped: 1 large Mixed mushrooms: 1 cupKosher salt and black pepper: As per tasteDry white wine: ½ cupChopped fresh flat-leaf parsley: ½ cupChopped fresh tarragon: 2 tbsp

Method of Preparation

Cook the blended rice according to the package directions. Then, fold the cranberries, cover them and let them stand for around 10 minutes.In the meantime, heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Occasionally stir after adding onion until it is soft, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add mushrooms, 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, frequently tossing, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes more. Add wine and simmer until evaporated, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in ley and tarragon.Add mushroom mixture to the rice and toss to combine.

Adverse Effects of Wild Rice

Ergot Toxicity

Ergot is a toxic fungus that infects wild rice. Infected wild rice may be dangerous for health if eaten. Side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, headache, dizziness, seizures, and mental impairment.

You can find heavy concentrations of heavy metals in wild rice, which accumulate inside the body and cause serious health problems. According to a study, wild rice has elevated concentrations of heavy metals because of exposure to harmful elements from the atmosphere, water, and sediments.

Conclusion

Wild rice is a chewy and flavourful dark grain that you can substitute for ordinary white rice. It’s higher in protein, fibre, and carbohydrates than regular rice, plus it’s packed with vital nutrients and antioxidants. Moreover, it has a low glycemic index, making it ideal for people who follow diabetic tendencies.

This American rice variety may help with heart health, diabetic management, and weight loss. On the other hand, excessive consumption may raise the risk of heavy metal or ergot toxicity. If you develop any adverse effects, limit your intake and consult a doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Is wild rice good for health?

A. Wild rice is a good source of a healthy mix of protein and fibre. Furthermore, it contains manganese which acts as an antioxidant, and antioxidants neutralise dangerous by-products of cell metabolism. Therefore, wild rice has many benefits like maintaining a healthy heart, helping to lose weight, boosting the immune system, optimising digestion, and many more.

Q. Is wild rice better for you than brown rice?

A. Wild rice has about 30% of the total calories in brown rice, which has 40% more protein. As a result, it’s higher in protein, fibre, and carbohydrates than regular rice, plus it’s packed with vital nutrients and antioxidants. Also, it has a low glycemic index, making it ideal for people who follow their blood sugar levels and sugar rises after meals. 

Q. Does wild rice make you gain weight?

A. No, wild rice is a low-calorie and gluten-free food that helps lose weight. Moreover, it can help those attempting to prevent obesity and overeating due to its high fibre and nutrient content without supplying high calories.

Q. Is wild rice a Superfood?

A. Yes, wild rice is a superfood and is the best option for people concerned about their health. It contains many nutrients and minerals that are helpful for your body’s growth and antioxidants that act as anti-ageing. In addition, being a low-calorie product prevents obesity, so wild rice is a superfood.

Q. Is wild rice difficult to digest?

A. Wild rice enhances digestion, so it is easy to digest! It’s rich in magnesium which contributes to a healthy nervous system. It consists of an impressive amount of fibre which bulks up the stool and eases the digestive process by facilitating peristalsis. It can be used by those suffering from constipation.

Q. Which is healthier wild rice or white rice?

A. Wild rice is a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fibres, including vitamin B, magnesium, and manganese, and it also contains antioxidants. On the other hand, white rice contains less fibre, protein, antioxidants, and specific vitamins and minerals than wild rice. 

Q. Can diabetics eat wild rice?

A. Diabetes is a condition in which the pancreas cannot produce sufficient insulin levels, and the body is not able to store or use glucose properly. Wild rice is very nutritious, and it contains various vitamins and minerals. In addition, wild rice has no effect on blood sugar levels, which is suitable for diabetes patients.

Q. Is quinoa better than wild rice?

A. Quinoa is slightly higher in calories than wild rice. However, both of them have the same amount of carbs and protein content. In addition, quinoa has 56% higher fibre content than wild rice, making it a healthier option. Quinoa also has 467% more calcium than wild rice. On the other hand, wild rice has more niacin and pantothenic acid. 

Q. Can we eat wild rice daily?

A. Wild rice is gluten-free and low in sugar, sodium, and calories. Consuming wild rice in moderation is a good idea. However, wild rice’s heavy metal concentrations increase due to exposure to hazardous elements from the environment, water, and sediments which may lead to severe health conditions.

Q. Is wild rice inflammatory?

A. Wild rice is anti-inflammatory, creating an alkaline environment in the body and reducing inflammation. The alkaline condition caused by wild rice neutralises the extra acid and reduces inflammation.

Q. Is wild rice Keto?

A. The Keto term comes from Ketogenic, a low-carb diet. Wild rice is not keto-friendly because it is rich in carbs. Keep your net carb intake between 20 and 30 grams daily to remain in ketosis.

Q. Which rice is lowest in carbs?

A. Wild rice is lower in carbs than other types of rice. 32g of net carbs per cooked cup(164g). Whereas brown rice is 52g, white rice is 53g, black rice is 34g, and red rice is 45g. Overweight people should incorporate wild rice into their diet. It is also rich in antioxidants, zinc, vitamin B16, folate, magnesium, etc.

Q. Is wild rice gluten-free?

A. All forms of rice are gluten-free. Wild rice is gluten-free. Intake of wild rice does not cause side effects of gluten like fatigue, constipation, or diarrhoea. Gluten is a protein found in the wheat plant and is naturally occurring. Humans have a digestive system in which enzymes are there to break down complex molecules into simpler ones. Protease is the enzyme responsible for breaking down protein molecules, but it can’t completely break down gluten. In some people, gluten causes severe autoimmune responses. Wild rice is free from gluten and does not cause any of the above symptoms. 

Q. Is wild rice low oxalate?

A. Wild rice is a low oxalate food. Oxalate is a compound our body produces, and oxalate causes various health problems. For example, an excess amount of oxalate can combine with calcium in the urine, cause kidney stones, and form crystals. Renal stones harm the kidneys and induce kidney failure, although wild rice may not cause this.

Q. Is wild rice arsenic-free?

A. Wild rice is not arsenic-free because it is grown under flooded conditions where water can get contaminated with arsenic. As a result, rice absorbs more arsenic than any other grain. Toxic effects of arsenic poisoning include vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhoea.

Q. Is there soy in wild rice?

A. Wild rice does not contain any soy, and it is soy-free. So, it is a healthy alternative for people with celiac disease.

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