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56. Unpolished v. Polished Rice
[Evidence for unpolished as against polished rice goes on accumulating. The Poet the other day raised the voice of humanity against the ravages wrought by rice mills and milled rice. Prof. Basu, Professor of Physiology of the Presidency College, Calcutta, sums up the case for unpolished rice under the following points, and even shows that unpolished rice is a good equivalent of wheat. - Ed.]
a) The pericarp which is rich in protein and vitamin B, a substance which confers immunity, especially to the digestive tract against bacterial infection, is nearly absent in milled rice, although it is present in Dhenki-hulled rice.
b) I have been able to show by Van Slyke's micro-method that the proteins are decomposed much more readily in milled rice than in Dhenki-hulled rice, when both are stored in warm and humid atmosphere (vide Proceedings of the Indian Science Congress, 1935).
This is probably one of the reasons why Beri-Beri breaks out in an epidemic form either during or after the rains.
c) Large intake of milled rice causes an incidence of premature births and an increase in infant mortality (Annual Review of Biochemistry, 1934). This has been found due to absence of vitamin B.
d) The absence of vitamin B probably interferes with the combustion of starch in milled rice. (Annual Review of Biochemistry, 1934).
I may further point out in this connection that people who argue in favour of wheat (or atta) either do not know or ignore:
1) That whereas atta contains 11 per cent protein, and rice (reddish variety) contains 8 or even 8.5 per cent protein, the biological value of protein, of rice is 88 per cent (according to Robertson) or 94 per cent (according to Dr. K. R Bose of Dacca). But that of wheat is only 40 per cent (the biological value of protein of milk being taken as 100 per cent). Accordingly, for protein supply to our body rice is to be preferred to wheat.
2) That rice starch contains a small amount of phos­phorus, an essential ingredient of our body, but wheat starch does not.
3) That rice is regarded as an excellent fuel for our body (vide Annual Review of Biochemistry, 1935) and is, therefore, particularly useful for labourers.
It may be contended that wheat can be taken in larger amounts than rice without unduly loading our stomach. But the necessity of taking large amounts of rice for the supply of protein disappears, if we take sufficient amount of dal which is very rich in protein (vaiying from 18 to 257). Further, rice can be taken in various forms, such as parched rice (chura), boiled rice, fried rice (muri or as garuchakli).
I may mention one great disadvantage of rice, as an article of food, viz., it is an acid food, but this defect can be corrected if it is taken with sags (green vegetables) or citrus fruits which are regarded as alkaline foods.
Harijan, 15-2-1936