Today Rice vs Wheat Chapati (Roti) is a popular topic of debate on every meal table. It is quite natural as, for generations, people in India have been eating rice and wheat in several forms.
Due to several Autoimmune and Lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes, blood pressure, most of us debate what to eat and what not. This article will help you understand why Rice may be healthier than Roti (Wheat Chapati an Indian flatbread)?
Similarities between wheat and rice
Most people mistakenly believe that chapati (wheat) is healthy food. But when they say that, they are usually referring to the rice vs wheat comparison.
Wheat and rice both are high glycemic index foods. Both are carbohydrates. Both will spike your blood sugar and then crash it later.
Rice has a slightly higher glycemic index than wheat. But both will do the same job – they will spike your blood sugar. Regular consumption of wheat and/or rice will finally cause insulin resistance (causes diabetes in future), the only question is when.
Unbelievable but true!
Grains in large quantities on a daily basis are always unhealthy. You see, none of them can cater to the optimum nutritional requirement of your body alone.
They do have some amount of nutrition. But to get even the minimum RDA from grains, you will have to eat – maybe – a couple of kilos of grains.
And that’s just not possible, is it?
And even if you do, just imagine the huge quantities of sugar spiking carbohydrate you will be consuming at one time!
Did you know there are some grains that you can eat safely? There are also grains which are sources of complete protein.
Forget Wheat Rice, Always make Vegetables the star of your meal
At the outset, I would like to point out that making grains the major part of your meal is unhealthy. Ideally for an adult grains should be no more than 30-35% (Assuming that most of us are spending most of our time on office chairs or home couches). Always make vegetables the star of your meal. Seasonal, organic & locally produced vegetables are a Powerhouse of Vitamins, Minerals & Enzymes.
Now coming back to grains.
The whole wheat/wheat is healthy idea has been hammered in our head by the corporate propaganda of flour/biscuit/bread factories.
Unfortunately, there is a large body of research pointing otherwise. In fact, research indicates that wheat (whole and organic included ) contributes to physical and mental problems!
Rice vs Wheat: Why Rice may be better.
Also when we come to comparing wheat and rice. It is very difficult to find something good about modern wheat. Most modern wheat are hybrid and crossbred varieties that have been specifically bred to be high in gluten. This has lead to an increase in allergens like gluten, agglutinin and lectins in modern wheat.
Comparatively, rice is non-allergenic & easier to digest. Specifically, rice does not contain any allergens like gluten, lectin or agglutinin.
To put it together, I would say that if you have an excellent digestion(no hanging belly, no flatulence, no stomach cramps, no acidity, etc.), then go right ahead and eat what you want. Chew on iron nails if you wish. 🙂
However, for those with compromised digestion, steer clear or limit portion of all wheat products.
Rice is a better option, if you are worried about the sugar content, bring it down by fermenting it. Southern India has made an art of fermenting and eating rice as harmlessly as possible. Go for homemade dosas and idlis.
To further ensure that there is no blood sugar spike, add some ghee to it. Yes, I am recommending ghee because there is NO connection between heart disease and ghee. That was also years of propaganda by food companies (Haven’t we all bought fat-free this and that, at some time or the other?), now busted by research!
Do remember to limit portion 🙂
After all, you are what you eat. Arrr. No! I mean you are what you can digest.
But Roti has been around for generations! How can it be bad?
I understand that for wheat eating people, chapati has been around for generations. So if our parents and grandparents were fine with it, how can it harm us? It is, in fact, a most intelligent question.
There are two answers to this:
Wheat has changed
We and our environment have also changed.
Wheat has changed
Wheat is one of the oldest known grains, probably as old as civilisation itself. But did you know that there are almost 30,000 varieties of wheat! However, only a few varieties of wheat account for 90 percent of the wheat grown in the world. The wheat on the market today is a new breed, different from grains consumed by Indians just a 100 years ago.
Modern wheat is very different from their heirloom variety. This difference is as a result of intense crossbreeding programs, which have turned the crop into something that is neither physically nor genetically like its old self. While the classic plants grew over four feet tall, modern wheat (grown in 99 percent of the world’s wheat fields) is now derisively dubbed “dwarf wheat,” standing just two feet in height with an abnormally large seed head balanced atop its stocky stem.
So what was the purpose of this extensive breeding? Well, wheat flour is the flour of choice for large food giants world over (Nestle, Britannia …. etc) for ready-made baking goods. And the finished product is superior in presentation, texture and taste with high gluten (& of course inferior in nutrition). The higher the protein, gluten, the better the kneading and baking qualities. Unfortunately, most of the world farmers have adopted this high yield, high allergen, infection resistant wheat for profitability and ease of farming.
So higher gluten and better profits have been the purpose of this breeding and not increased nutritional value or our health. That’s why we have people getting diagnosed with more gluten allergies and celiac disease. Perhaps if we could switch back to the heirloom varieties of wheat, the problem may abate.
Our environment has changed
Our air is polluted. The food we eat is polluted, laced with all kinds of toxic chemicals. Our water is polluted.
We live in homes with Reverse Osmosis to clean our water, we install air purifiers in our homes to clean our air, we are all aware of adulteration in commercial foods.
We use food grade BPA free plastic to protect ourselves from its ill effects(where is the cheap non-food grade plastic going then?).
Chemical compounds have been found in the umbilical cord of newborns. Each urban household is using toxic cleaners like harpic. An apartment on an average has 300–400 flats. Where are the 400 bottles of harpic flushed down the toilet going each month? (Ground water maybe? )
We have changed
We eat factory food, whose purpose is profit, not our health. Our food, earth, water, livestock is being poisoned continually by anybody who can make a personal profit. How long can we insulate ourselves in our homes?
Yet, we are unwilling to accept that there is a grave threat to our health and our planet.
You still think these poisons have not reached your food or you? How many of us are already suffering digestive disorders? How many antibiotics, antacids and sodas are we taking each year for our stomach issues?
So what do you think can be the cumulative effect of modern food (bred for profit) plus your already bad digestion, low immunity and resistance? (due to poisoned environment, again for profit).
Please note that ever-increasing number of Indians are being diagnosed with obesity, diabetes, cancer, digestive disorders, arthritis, Alzheimer . . . . . And the list goes on.
In summary, we are not what our parents/ grandparents were. And the food we eat is not the food they ate. They got clean air, clean food & clean water. So if you are lucky enough to be in good health despite all of this, be aware, make informed decisions and stay lucky!
You make a very good point in that it is a myth that wheat and rice are nutritious!
One request: Please be thorough about your analysis. The point you make about adding ghee to your diet is dangerous for the people with heart disease. Replacing oils with ghee is better overall because of comparatively less cancer-causing free radicals released but adding ghee to your chappati or rice is the worst advice on planet (UNLESS YOU ARE A DIABETIC, THEN IT MAKES SENSE). Healthy fats are advisable for lowering cholesterol but not ghee. It is the worst fat to consume for heart patients because of trans fats and saturated fats. So please mention the context very clearly in the article, particularly in the conclusion.
Also, saying that rice is “better” than wheat is another quick conclusion. Most people don’t have problems digesting gluten, particularly in India. So mention that it is very specifically “better” for people with digestion issues and certain asthma patients. Secondly, on some parameters, wheat can be better. It digests slower than White polished rice and has overall slightly better nutritional profile.
I took time to write this because my own parents reply on internet for nutrition advice and get confused about what is best for their specific needs.
Hence, please keep up the good effort and just make sure that “context” is very clear from the title to conclusion.