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Unhealthy Carbs? Research Says Ancient Rice Lowers Cholesterol, Better for Diabetics

Unhealthy Carbs? Research Says Ancient Rice Lowers Cholesterol, Better for Diabetics

Studies show that Kerala’s red matta rice variety has a long list of health benefits not found in traditional white rice. From diabetes to cholesterol, here’s how it helps in various ways.

The first thing many of us do while embarking on a diet is to give up rice and roti to reduce our carbohydrate intake. 

In my quest for fitness, I have been guilty of doing this as well. While I made the switch to millets like jowar, bajra, and ragi, further reading told me that not all rice is unhealthy. Apart from brown rice prescribed by dietitians, another rice that is equally, if not more, beneficial is the red matta rice found in Kerala. 

If you go out for a meal in Kerala during lunchtime, you will be served a variety of vegetables or meat, but what remains constant is the matta rice. Also known as Rosematta rice, Palakkadan Matta rice, is grown majorly in the Palakkad region. This rice has been awarded a GI (Geographical Indication) tag.

A Kerala meal with Matta rice
A Kerala meal with red matta rice

This rice has a distinct flavour and is unhulled or partially hulled. It has a red husk, and its colour is due to the presence of anthocyanin, a chemical that has antioxidant properties. 

Here are 10 benefits of Matta rice:

High nutrient content: It has more nutrients compared to white rice, as the rice germ, which is the part of the rice grain that has the richest nutrient content, is intact. The Hindu wrote, “The traditional red rice, which retains its outer bran layers, has five times more iron, three times more zinc and twice as much fibre while comparing with the polished and perfumed Basmati.”

High fibre: A fibre-rich diet is needed to maintain gut health. According to a report in the New Indian Express, one-quarter cup of red rice consists of about 2 g of fibre, which is roughly 8 per cent of our daily fibre requirement. Due to its high fibre content, red rice has complex carbohydrates, while white rice has only simple carbohydrates. It helps in digestion, and makes you feel fuller after eating a small quantity

Helps in controlling diabetes: Red rice is beneficial for diabetics as it has a low glycemic index. It helps in regulating blood sugar levels and protects you from developing insulin resistance.

High magnesium content: Matta rice has a good amount of magnesium. Reports say that half a cup of this rice has almost 42 g of magnesium, which helps the heart, bones, and nerves run smoothly. It helps maintain blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart attacks. Low magnesium levels can cause several health problems. 

High calcium and zinc content: Matta rice has a high calcium content, more than that present in white rice. Calcium helps in keeping teeth and bones healthy. It is also high in zinc, which helps the immune system and heals wounds faster.

Controls cholesterol levels: High cholesterol levels can lead to heart attacks. Matta rice has bran and is rich in the nutrient monacolin A, which helps reduce cholesterol levels. 

Rich in Vitamin A & B: Matta rice is also rich in Vitamin A and B. Vitamin A is important for your eyes, immune system, skin, and reproduction. Vitamin B is important for metabolism and keeping one’s energy high. 

Great for your skin: Due to the presence of so many vitamins and minerals, Matta rice holds great benefits for your skin. Some of these vitamins help in the production of RBCs, which are essential for clear skin. 

Gluten-free: Another aspect of red rice is that it is gluten-free. It can be eaten by people with a gluten allergy, as well as those with gut issues. 

Good for weight-watchers: As this matta rice is par-boiled, unlike white rice, it retains a lot more nutrients. The high fibre content and bran keep you satiated. Reports also suggest that it helps in treating obesity.

Edited by Divya Sethu


’10 Amazing Health Benefits Of Matta Rice’ by Shivani Sikri for Stylecraze, Published on 22 June, 2022

‘Kerala Matta Rice Is 70% Healthier Than White Rice (7 Amazing facts)‘ Published on 27 March, 2018 Courtesy The South Indian Store

‘Red Rice Benefits: A Complete Guide To Nutrition, Recipes And More’ by Somdatta Saha for NDTV Food, Published on 09 January, 2020

‘Rice and Shine’ by Deepika Rathod for The New Indian Express, Published on 13 December, 2019

‘Palakkadan matta scripts a success story’ by KA Shaji for The Hindu, Published on 31 August, 2015

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