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Rice is the staple food in southern India, Assam and Kashmir. It is also the staple food of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Burma, China and Japan. Where rice forms the major source of calories, the nutritive value of the diet depends on the processing undertaken before it is marketed. Depending on the mode of processing, different parts of the rice grain may be removed.


HUSK-This is the loose covering of rice. It has not nutritive value and is always removed before cooking. The process of removing the husk is called milling.

BRAN-This is the outermost coat of the grain. It contains nutrients and cellulose; the latter interferes with the absorption of other foods, hence this layer is best removed.

ALEURONE LAYER-This is thin layer underneath the bran. It contains vitamins, minerals, proteins and fats.

EMBRYO (GERM)-The germ is at the base of the grain, and is rich in nutrients and vitamin E.

ENDOSPERM-The endosperm forms 75% of the grain. It consists mainly of starch, which is the principal source of calories.


Rice is rich in starch, moderate in proteins, and poor in fat, iron and calcium. During cooking, it absorbs a considerable amount of water.

CALORIES-Rice provides about 350 kcal (1.47MJ) per 100g dry weight.

PROTEINS-Rice contains about seven per cent proteins; these are deficient in the amino acid lysine, which can be supplemented with Soya bean and pulses. The Chinese custom of eating rice with Soya bean provides proteins of high biological value. Eating rice with dal (pulses) or a preparation of rice and dal (khichdi), or eating rice with milk or milk products like curd and buttermilk, is also helpful in balancing the diet.


The processes employed for the removal of the husk and bran are described below.

This is mainly done by farmers who cultivate rice for their own consumption. Rice is placed in a large mortar and pounded with wooden or iron pestles. Hand-pounding does not remove the bran's completely as milling, and so vitamins are better preserved.

Most of the rice sold in the market is machine-milled, a process which removes bran, the aleurone layer, and embrye. These constituents are collectively called the polishing; they are nutritious, and constitute 10% of the weight of the grain.

Advantages : Milled rice 
(i) keeps better, as it is less likely to be contaminated by insects which destroy stored grain; 
(ii) looks clean and attractive for marketing; 
(iii) is easily digested and absorbed; and 
(iv) contains little phytate, and hence minerals from other foods are better absorbed.

Disadvantages : According to the mode of milling, variable proportions of vitamin B-complex, calcium, iron, proteins and fats are removed. It is possible to remove over 75% of thiamine during milling. When rice constitutes the main source of food, this loss leads to beriberi. In the West, vitamin B is supplied from other sources; hence, an occasional helping of highly-polished rice has no deleterious effect.

In the states of Tamil Nadu, Bengal and Goa, parboiled rice is consumed. The methods of parboiling vary but essentially consist of the following steps: 

(i) paddy (rice with husk) is soaked in water; 
(ii) the water is brought to boil; 
(iii) the water is drained off and the paddy is dried; 
(iv) the dried paddy is either machine-milled or hand-pouched, as described above, to separate the husk.

(i) The grain is harder after parboiling; 
(ii) parboiled rice can be preserved better, both in the uncooked and cooked states; 
(iii) when parboiled rice is processed, the outer bran is more easily removed without the aleurone layer, and hence polishing is easier while nutrients are better preserved (it is, therefore, better to machine-mill parboiled rice than raw rice); and 
(iv) when parboiled rice is washed prior to cooking, the loss of nutrients is far less than from raw rice.

(i) It involves an additional process before polishing: and 
(ii) parboiled rice may emit an unpleasant smell during cooking. However, the addition of anhydrous ferric chloride (2.9 g to one kg paddy) during parboiling prevents the foul odour it also provides 1g (17.9 mm oles iron to the rice).

Fermented rice provided better nutrition. Rats fed on two parts rice and one part black  gram (urad dal), with a high-fat, low-protein diet, showed fatty changes in the liver; when rice was previously fermented (idli), these fatty changes were prevented. Fermented  ricer has a higher content of choline and folic acid. The fact that Tamils in southern India often eat fermented rice as idli may explain why liver damage does not occur among them, despite a low intake of proteins.


Rice is easily digested. When properly chewed, digestion begins with ptyalin in the mouth and is completed by the pancreatic and intestinal juices. If eaten with dal (pulses), it produces too much bulk. Smaller feeds, of a couple of tablespoons of rice with milk or milk products, are easily digested even during an acute illness.


 Almost all the rice is completely absorbed from the intestine, as the polished grain is not covered with cellulose. The low phosphorus content of rice allows better absorption of the minerals calcium and iron, which partly compensates for the low content of these elements in rice. Iron absorption is considerably increased on a rice-based diet when 40 g (or even less) of fish is also eaten.


Rice has a high vitamin B content, mainly thiamine. Despite this, the discovery that lack of vitamins could lead to deficiency diseases was first made in rice-eating populations suffering from beriberi

When rice is the principal food, it becomes the main source of the vitamin B group. During milling, washing and cooking of rice, over 75% of thiamine may be lost. Added to this, when the main source of calories is carbohydrate, the demand for B-group vitamins is increased. Sub-clinical or clinical vitamin B deficiency can occur when  the diet consists mainly of highly polished rice.

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