In recent times, the West has started acknowledging and even discovering the varied health benefits of different foods and spices from the Indian sub-continent. To give a few examples: Turmeric milk (popular among Indians as haldi doodh) was christened as turmeric smoothie by the Americans, then came the craze of using coconut oil (again, nothing new as it's commonly in South India for cooking). And, they are slowly moving on to another common food practice in India: Fermented rice gruel. American Nutrition Association says that the previous day's soaked rice is the best for breakfast.
A common practice is cooking rice in the afternoon (excess water is drained). Once the rice cools down to room temperature, it is again soaked in water and stored in an earthen clay pot. This is left overnight at room temperature. By next morning, you would have the fermented rice, which is eaten for breakfast. Traditionally, it is eaten with a side dish, raw onion or green chilli. Some prefer to drain excess water and eat it with yoghurt and a slight sprinkle of salt. American Nutrition Association has also admitted to its various health benefits. Here are some of them:
1. More nutrients compared to normal rice: Yes it might come as a surprise, but it is said that the fermentation process increases the nutritional value of rice. Like, for instance, soaking rice overnight for around 12 hours increases the iron content by 21 times compared to regular cooked rice, states spoonuniversity.com. For example, after 12 hours of fermentation of 100 grams of rice, the availability of iron changed from 3.4 mg to 73.91mg (an increase of 2073%).
2. Good for various health problems: According to a report in Deccan Chronicle, fermented brown rice produces vitamin B12, which helps prevent fatigue. Fermented rice water concoction is also given to the sick as it aids speedy recovery due to its nutritional value. The vitamin B present in fermented rice can also cure ulcers. During the fermentation process, several micro-organisms are produced. These micro-organisms, in turn, balance the PH level in the stomach and boost good gut bacteria.
The healthy bacteria helps bowel movement and since it also acts as a natural laxative, it is good for those suffering from constipation. The potassium present in fermented rice lowers blood pressure. The magnesium and selenium present in fermented brown rice strengthen bones. Since it's light on the stomach and digestive system, it also helps in eradicating ulcers.
3. For healthy skin and hair: Certain researchers claim fermented rice produces collagen, which is necessary to maintain the elasticity of the skin. It is also said that fermented rice water can act as a natural hair conditioner. If you use it after shampooing your hair, it is said to make hair healthy and stronger from the roots, states the website www.bebeautiful.in. Since the water is rich in vitamin E and ferulic acid, it acts as an important antioxidant.
4. Good for lactating mothers: New mommies facing the problem of low milk secretion, fermented rice helps secret more milk and is a good source of lactic acid.