Rice is a common food in many parts of the world. It’s cheap, a fantastic source of energy, and comes in a variety of flavors. Although rice is usually cooked before eating, some people question if it is possible eating raw rice and if doing so has any health benefits or side effects. Here we will discuss if eating raw rice is good or harmful to our health.
In some cultures, rice is cooked perfectly, while some are overcooked. Many people might think eating overcooked rice is not good for our health. But let me tell you it is much better than eating undercooked rice. To your surprise, there is a percentage of people that have a habit of eating raw rice. Eating poorly cooked or completely raw rice can have several effects on your health. The Health benefits of vegan foods can never be ignored.
Why do people eat raw rice?
Most of you might be looking for the reason why some people have this weird habit of eating undercooked rice. Scientifically this habit is known as Pica for uncooked rice (ryzophagia).
Pica in general is a condition associated with the behavior of repetitive eating of non-food items. The non-food item can be different substances (e.g. mud, chalk, lead, rice, etc.) depending upon personal preference and also the availability of the item. Pica is a symptom of iron deficiency. The same is the reason in the case of pica for uncooked food (ryzophagia).
Pica for uncooked rice is found in adults of different ages but is more prevalent in pregnant women. Other symptoms associated with this condition are hair loss, pale-colored skin, nail symptoms, and fatigue. Ryzophagia is more common in non-European countries, the reason being the poor health conditions of the people of underdeveloped and developing countries.
Side effects of eating uncooked rice
As previously stated, eating undercooked rice can cause a variety of health issues. The principal consequences of uncooked rice on our bodies will be discussed here.
Many people might be unaware, but eating uncooked rice can have severe health concerns. Our stomach and gastrointestinal tract are in charge of breaking down everything we ingest. Eating any raw substance or in this case, raw rice will firstly and directly affect the gastrointestinal tract, causing food poisoning. You should learn to eat foods healthy and properly.
Indigestion and bacterial effect
One obvious reason is that raw rice being hard makes it difficult for the stomach to digest it. Due to which conditions of indigestion are observed. The second reason is raw rice contains the harmful bacteria Bacillus cereus (B. cereus). It is a type of bacteria commonly found in the soil in which rice is grown. The efficient resistive quality of these bacteria that is spore formation makes it difficult to get eliminate from the rice.
Cooking the rice properly and then storing the cooked rice at the proper temperature can only prevent the growth of these bacteria. If undercooked or uncooked rice is consumed, this bacterium starts multiplying and spore formation resists its elimination. Symptoms of nausea &vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain can be observed immediately.
Damage of gut wall
Another way by which uncooked rice affects the body is through the lectins. Lectins are proteins with natural insecticidal properties, found in raw rice. Due to this resistive property, the body is unable to digest it.
Passing undigested through the digestive tract can severely damage the gut wall. Another harmful property of lectins is that they alter the body’s normal ability to absorb nutrients, due to which they are also called antinutrients. The only way to get rid of these lectins is by cooking the rice properly on high flame.
The underlying reason causing this habitual eating of uncooked rice is iron deficiency. Iron deficiency along with the harmful effects of raw rice cause several health issues. Abdominal pain and indigestion are commonly reported. It also affects the health of your hair and nails causing them to get weak and thin. Skin starts turning pale. The body remains fatigued all the time.
The person feels weak and gets exhausted even after a minor physical activity. Dental damage is also common in people eating raw rice regularly. Teeth become weak by chewing hard rice due to which tooth has to be removed or need dental facilitation. Overall human health is affected by consuming uncooked rice.
Along with physical health, it also affects psychological health. Addiction of any sort is harmful it negatively impacts the mental capabilities of the addict. The person loses his decision-making capabilities ending up hurting himself physically and psychologically.
Eating raw rice regularly makes a person addicted to this habit. The body keeps craving for the rice and the brain keeps on signaling the person to keep doing it every day. In some people, the condition aggravates so quickly that they start consuming even up to half a kg of rice on regular basis. Physical health conditions can be cured through medicines only but psychological issues are much more complex and difficult to cure completely.
How can you keep yourself from eating raw rice?
To cure any health condition you should know its root cause. The main cause behind people urging to eating raw rice is iron deficiency. If the body’s iron requirements are fulfilled this urge can be diminished. Iron is present in green vegetables like spinach and broccoli.
Meat and chicken livers are also rich in iron. Including these foods in the diet can help cure this condition naturally. Doctors may also prescribe special iron supplements to such patients to fulfill the iron needs of the body. This habit of eating uncooked rice affects psychological health as well. Consulting a psychologist can also be required in severe cases
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and other mental issues can also be the cause of the development of this habit. The psychologist may evaluate all these factors to detect the root cause. These can be different for every individual. With proper psychological counseling and therapies, this condition can be cured. Special aversion therapies keep the condition from aggravating.
When occurring in pregnant women, another cause behind this habituation might be hormonal changes. Developing such a harmful habit can affect the health of both mother and the child. Proper consultation and medication from the gynecologist may help in this case.
Tips on How to Cook Rice
Here are some helpful hints for cooking rice.
- Start by rinsing your rice: Use a sieve or a rice colander to strain the rice. At first, the water may appear milky or foggy. Your rice is ready to cook when the water runs clear.
- Prepare your rice: Use a rice cooker or your stovetop to prepare the rice. 1 cup of rice to 12 cups of water is the ratio for stovetop rice. Place your rice in a pot of boiling water and cook for at least 20 minutes.
- Check to see if your rice is done: Depending on the type of rice used, the amount of water and the amount of time it takes to cook it can differ.
- Maintain a safe temperature for your rice: When your rice is done, keep it at 140°F or above until you’re ready to serve it.
Eating raw rice is dangerous and can cause food poisoning from B. cereus as well as harm to the digestive tract. Pica is a psychological disorder that has a link to hair loss, weariness, stomach ache, and iron deficiency anemia. A desire to consume uncooked rice or other non-nutritive foods could be an underlying symptom of pica.
Furthermore, raw rice is not nutritionally superior to cooked rice. Switch to brown, black, red, or wild rice if you just want a healthier rice alternative.
Related article – 10 Health Benefits of Eating Bananas during Pregnancy
1. How much does one cup of raw rice equals to cook one?
2. What happens if you eat raw rice?
3. What is raw rice?
4. How long does raw rice last?
5. How many cups of raw rice to cooked?
But if you cook one cup of white raw rice then it will yield three cups of cooked white rice while cooking one cup of brown rice will yield four cups of cooked brown rice. Similarly, cooking raw wild rice will yield three cups of cooked wild rice.