Rice cooker is a prominent appliance of the Asian kitchen. In countries like India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand, Korea, Japan, etc., rice is usually cooked more than once a day. Rice cooker makes cooking rice super convenient and easy. You will be able to cook rice in the consistency you desire. Yes, it won’t be too soggy or too dry, if you mind the instructions; thus, you can enjoy your favorite dish without trouble. When a rice cooker is used, the rice doesn’t stick to the pan nor does it burn. The grains remain separate and don’t stick together once the cooking is finished. It saves up stove space and doesn’t need to be monitored now and then.
Now, arriving at the one of the mostly wondered question – is it worth cooking rice in a rice cooker or on a stop-top? We ask ourselves this often before purchasing this useful device. From the beginning of time, humans have always looked for efficient alternatives. There’s your answer. Rice cookers are well worth your every buck when it comes to fast cooking. If are someone who is too busy and can’t afford to spend long hours in the kitchen then a rice cooker can help you through. However, there are some drawbacks of using this appliance.
How Is Rice Cooked in a Rice Cooker?
Rice cooker is a slow cooking equipment that boils and steams rice. It follows rather simple instructions. At first, rice and water are poured in a 1:2 ratio. The water that is used to boil the rice is not drained out and it is absorbed by the rice in the cooker. Both water and starch in the cooker make the rice sugary and unhealthy. This leads to obesity for rice consumers. Brown rice is very difficult to cook using rice cooker; the end result is either burnt rice or gluey rice. You wouldn’t want to eat that.
Why is Rice Harmful?
Rice contains traces of arsenic, a chemical that accumulates in the rice due to the use of industrial toxins and pesticides used while growing rice. It can only be removed or reduced when the rice is cooked in water and afterwards the water is strained out. Arsenic, a toxic metal, occurs in two forms: organic and inorganic. Rice absorbs huge quantities of the most dangerous inorganic arsenic as it grows in water. Large amount of rice intake can cause heart disease, diabetes, lung or bladder cancer since dangerous levels of arsenic accumulates in the body.
Types of Rice Cooker
Rice cookers can be of several types but all of them share the same cooking mechanism. They cook and keep the rice warm. The non-stick cookers have inner pot made of Teflon, these are harmful and expose hazardous chemicals when scratched. You might be wondering…… is cooking rice in these rice cookers healthy? It’s completely fine to use them when the Teflon coating is intact, but with time and use of metal spoons, the coating wears out. You can’t guarantee never to scratch a pot when you are taking out the rice, can you? Prolonged use of these types of rice cookers can significantly affect you, as the food gets contaminated with aluminum.
Which Rice Cookers are Safe Alternatives?
The clay and stainless-steel rice cookers are fairly safe alternatives compared to its harmful Teflon counterparts. The pots in these sort of rice cookers don’t have a Teflon interior. Thus, scratching the surface of the cooker doesn’t cause any problem. The clay rice cookers are quite fragile and the rice sticks at the bottom of the pot. The stainless-steel cookers are a perfect choice as it’s non-stick and also help to kill arsenic.
Rice Cooker Healthy Food? We Find Out
Rice cooker reduces the cooking time. What about the quality of cooking? Well, as mentioned above in terms of cooking rice, there are other healthier techniques. However, when it comes to cooking other dishes, it can be a healthy option. Now it might sound funny to you since rice cooker’s sole purpose is to cook rice yet its unhealthy. Here’s how we can put it in words. Firstly, rice cooker cooks rice faster and the rice is way tastier compared to the other forms of cooking rice. However, since it doesn’t drain out the water with which the rice boils, it is not as healthy as compared to the methods where the water is drained out. The sole reason is the drainage of water.
Ways to Prepare Healthy Rice Using Rice Cooker
Step 1: Choose a Healthy Type of Rice
At first, take the healthiest variety of rice in the market. Since rice is something you will eat on a daily basis, you should take the healthiest one, otherwise it will have prolonged effects on your health. Rice grains come in different flavors, colors, and nutrition. Below there’s a list of healthy rice types you should go for.
1. Brown Rice
This wholegrain rice with the protective shell (hull) contains the nutritious layer of bran and germ. The hull is removed from the rice. The bran has the antioxidants luteolin, quercetin, and apigenin. The antioxidants play a role in lowering risks of heart diseases, cancers, regulate blood sugar, produces hormones, and insulin, etc. The brown rice is high in fiber and protein. The protein and fiber make you full and enable you to control your weight. It has high quantity of mineral known as magnesium that regulates insulin metabolism.
2. Black Rice
The black rice is originally black in color and turns purple after cooking. It’s sometimes called the forbidden rice, since it’s said to be taken for royalty in China. Black rice contains the most antioxidant activity; hence, it is very nutritious. Antioxidants protect the cells from the harm caused by free radicals, and results in oxidative stress. These can lead to chronic conditions, cancer, and mental health issues. It is particularly abundant in anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid plant pigments which contains antioxidants and properties that are anti-inflammatory. This helps lower the risks of cancer.
3. Red Rice
Red rice is deeply pigmented with loads of nutrients and healthy plant compounds. It has large amounts of protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Just like the black rice, it comprises of flavonoid antioxidants, as well as the anthocyanins apigenin, quercetin, and myricetin. Flavonoids decrease inflammation of the body, keep healthy proportion of free radical, reduce chances of type 2 diabetes, and chronic disease. The red rice has higher potential to counter free radicals and is higher in flavonoid antioxidants compared to brown rice.
4. Wild Rice
The wholegrain wild rice is extracted from the seeds of underwater grasses and is high in proteins, fibers, and antioxidants. It is a great origin of vitamins and minerals, B vitamins, manganese, and magnesium. Moreover, wild rice provides essential health benefits.
The brown rice, black rice, wild rice, and red rice are all healthy and nutritious options to choose from that contains plant compounds to fight diseases too.
Step 2: Practice a Healthy Cooking Pattern
Changing the way of cooking can reduce the toxins in it. The water needs to divided in five places and portions of rice has to be soaked in each of them. It should be kept in this manner through the night to achieve the most out of this process. In an experiment, it showed that soaking the rice overnight in water before cooking reduces the toxins by 80%. For best results, the rice which was soaked should be rinsed with plenty of water until the water becomes clear. Therefore, this procedure not only helps to clean the rice but also removes the harmful chemicals along with it.
Step 3: Use a Starch-free Rice Cooker
The third and final step would be to use a starch-free rice cooker. Although most rice cookers absorb the water with which the rice boils, this one is an exception. It separates the water from the rice after it has boiled and produces fluffy rice just as the other rice cookers. Thus, with these types of rice cookers the problem of toxins being reabsorbed is eliminated. The starch-free rice cooker is a great choice specially for diabetes patients as it cuts out the amount of carbohydrates. If you love rice and are diabetic, you wouldn’t have to worry anymore.
So, is cooking rice in a rice cooker healthy? Even though ordinary rice cookers are not as healthy as the starch-free ones, following a healthy cooking habit can undo the harmful effects of it. If the toxins are lowered by 80% the rice is no longer as potentially dangerous as it used to be. Well, if that still bothers you then switch to using a starch-free rice cooker. This is a complete solution to all your problems if you are a healthy consumer.