Rice is often thought to be a rich and indulgent food item and may be avoided by those who have high blood pressure. But is it really necessary to avoid rice? Is rice heart-healthy? Read on to find out.
Can’t imagine life without biriyani, pulao, or plain old dal-rice? Most people can’t. Rice is a staple food consumed widely by over half of the world’s population. It is packed with nutrients and is a good source of carbohydrates and proteins. But is rice heart-healthy? Is rice good for high blood pressure? Get all your answers here.
Is Rice Heart-Healthy?
While diet alone isn’t a quick fix to ensure heart health, it is a very important aspect of health management and a great way to start. Foods that are rich in soluble fibre and omega-3 fatty acids (an essential fat that is derived from food) are considered heart-healthy.
Rice is a good source of soluble fibre, which can lower the levels of LDL or “bad” cholesterol in the body. Soluble fibre can bind to cholesterol particles in the small intestine, prevent them from entering your bloodstream. and help in eliminating them from the body through faeces. This helps decrease the total cholesterol levels in the body, thus lowering the risk of high blood pressure and heart diseases.
Rice bran is also rich in Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA), which is an essential omega-3 fatty acid. It contributes to your overall wellness and also benefits your heart health. Studies suggest that having a diet rich in ALA may reduce the total cholesterol levels in the body, thus lowering the risk of high blood pressure.
Can we Eat Rice with High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a common condition where your blood pressure (the force exerted by the blood against the walls of your blood vessels) is consistently too high (≥ 140/90 mm Hg).
Balance is key to everything and the same applies to diet in high blood pressure or hypertension. While it is ok to have most foods, you should be careful about the type and serving size.
Consuming rice can be beneficial in keeping your blood pressure levels in check. However, the type of rice you choose also matters. The fibre content in whole grains such as brown rice is favourable in controlling your blood pressure.
Whole grains like brown rice are also a good source of complex carbohydrates, essential vitamins (especially B vitamins), and nutrients like iron and folate. The nutrient-dense nature of whole grains such as brown rice makes them one of the recommended food groups for maintaining healthy blood pressure and improving your heart health.
Which Rice is Best for High Blood Pressure?
When choosing rice, the main question that arises is, which rice is healthier for hypertension? Let’s find out.
Brown rice is a whole grain which includes the bran, germ, and endosperm. It is more nutrient-dense than white rice. Brown rice is high in dietary fibre, vitamins, and minerals when compared to white rice. It contains a variety of B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, and phytochemicals. It is a significantly rich source of minerals such as potassium and magnesium, which are essential for keeping your blood pressure in check. These nutrients effectively lower sodium levels in the body. Sodium causes water retention in your body, increasing your blood volume, and thus raising your blood pressure. Thus, the nutrients in brown rice may play a role in maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.
White rice is more processed than brown rice and has the bran and germ stripped off during the milling process. Though some of the nutrients are added back during enrichment, most of it is lost in the process. White rice has a higher glycemic index (a measure of how much a particular food increases your blood sugar) as compared to brown rice. Your body would need to produce more insulin in order to combat foods with a high glycemic index. Higher insulin levels decrease sodium and water excretion in the kidneys and lead to constriction of blood vessels. This can lead to an increase in your blood pressure. Also, as insulin levels rise, insulin resistance develops. If the cells grow resistant to insulin, magnesium can no longer be stored in your body and passes out through urination. When magnesium levels are too low, blood vessels are unable to relax, and this raises blood pressure levels.
How Much Rice Can be Consumed in a Day for High Blood Pressure?
Limit yourself to about 1 cup of cooked rice in a day. You can opt for healthier options such as brown rice, which is more nutritious and filling when compared to white rice.
When is the Right Time to Consume Rice for High Blood Pressure?
As brown rice is a healthy source of complex carbohydrates that can keep you active and energised throughout the day, it is better to consume it during the daytime. Remember to limit yourself to the recommended portion size when including rice in your diet.
Know the Risks of Overconsumption of Rice for High Blood Pressure
Though having rice every day can be beneficial to your health in many ways, overconsumption can lead to side effects.
- The carbohydrate content in rice can lead to weight gain when consumed in high quantities.
- Having more than the recommended quantity of rice in a day can also cause a rise in your blood sugar levels.
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- Rice is a good source of soluble fibre that can lower the levels of LDL or “bad” cholesterol in the body. This helps decrease the total cholesterol levels in the body, thus lowering the risk of heart diseases.
- Rice is also rich in Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is an essential omega-3 fatty acid. It contributes to your overall wellness and also benefits your heart health.
- The fibre content in whole grains such as brown rice is favourable in controlling your blood pressure. Brown rice is also a good source of complex carbohydrates, essential vitamins (especially B vitamins), and minerals like iron and folate.
- Brown rice is more nutrient-dense than white rice. It is high in potassium and magnesium which are essential for keeping your blood pressure in check. These nutrients effectively lower the sodium levels in the body which is crucial in maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.
- White rice is more processed and lower in nutrients when compared to brown rice. Brown rice forms a better choice for those who have chronic conditions such as high blood pressure.
- You can limit yourself to about 1 cup of cooked rice in a day.
- As rice is a healthy source of complex carbohydrates that can keep you active and energised throughout the day it is better to consume it during the daytime.
- Overconsumption of rice can lead to side effects such as weight gain and high sugar levels.
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Friendly Asked Questions
Basmati rice is rich in potassium and magnesium, which makes it ideal for those with high blood pressure. These nutrients help keep your sodium levels in check, thereby lowering your blood pressure. Sodium leads to water retention in the body, thus increasing your blood volume and blood pressure. Magnesium and potassium work by removing excess sodium from the body through urine. These components also relax your blood vessels and improve blood circulation.
White is processed or refined, and hence loses most of its nutrients. It is much lower in fibre, vitamins, and minerals when compared to brown rice. Refined grains such as white rice quickly convert to sugar, which your body stores as fat. White rice is high in carbohydrates and low in nutrients that help control your blood pressure. Therefore, it is better to choose brown rice in place of white rice in order to maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
Brown rice is higher in dietary fibre, vitamins, and minerals when compared to white rice. It contains a variety of B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, and phytochemicals. It is also a significantly rich source of minerals such as potassium and magnesium, which are essential for keeping your blood pressure in check. Brown rice is, therefore, a good choice for those who are trying to lower their blood pressure levels.
There are many ways to make your rice more nutritious. Adding green vegetables to your rice in different forms is one way to boost its fibre content and provide you with essential vitamins and minerals. Adding lean meat such as chicken, fish, or eggs to your rice can provide you with a good source of protein. You can also add legumes such as beans or lentils to your rice as they are a rich source of fibre and nutrients such as iron, folate, calcium, and potassium.