Rice and roti are staple grains that are almost sacred to Indians and often referred to as ann without which no diet can be complete. Staple grains occupy the base of the food pyramid and represent the largest area,thereby implying that most of the days calories must come from this group.
While north Indians believe nothing can beat roti to make an able body,rice is the favorite in the south and the east. The belief in the power of wheat is so entrenched that often even those diagnosed with gluten sensitivity (a life-threatening health condition,if untreated) are forced to eat this grain,which is virtually a poison for them.
Rice and roti have similar nutritional properties. The difference lies in the form in which they are consumed. Roti,made from whole wheat flour,is distinctly different from polished white rice (most familiar in an urban set-up) in its nutritional value. While roti made with atta is a whole grain,white rice is like maida because it is refined.
Although refining grains extends their shelf life,it robs them off their essential nutrients. During refining (the process which converts the whole grain into refined grain,for example,brown rice into white rice),the outer bran is removed. The germ attached to the bran also gets ripped offleaving mainly the endosperm or the starch,minus the fibre and most of the nutrients.
Nutrients lost during polishing the rice include fibre,plant proteins,essential fatty acids,vitamins and minerals. The key vitamins and minerals include vitamin E (a powerful antioxidant),iron (needed for hemoglobin formation),selenium,zinc,B vitamins including vitamin B6 and folic acid. Rice,from which water has been drained during cooking,is further depleted of its water-soluble vitamins including vitamin B complex. Several disease-protecting non-nutrient components like lignans,tocotrienols,phenolic compounds,phytic acid,tannins and enzyme inhibitors too are lost during polishing.
Roti,made from whole wheat atta,on the other hand is rich in all the above. Compared to roti,polished rice is easier to digest because it converts starch into glucose faster,a phenomena which contributes to weight gain and obesity.
Research has established that a diet rich in whole grains like roti is associated with reduced risk of coronary artery disease,cancer diabetes and obesity. Due to their slow digestibility,they help maintain blood sugar levels. Whole grains,being fibre-rich and low-fat,are also a good choice for weight watchers.
However,if you consume brown rice,red rice or unpolished,brown or red rice,both rice and roti are comparable. Essentially,the difference lies in the type of fibre they contain. The fibre in brown rice (rice bran) is of a type that can help reduce blood cholesterol levels and the rice oil,present in the whole grain also has a cholesterol-lowering effect. Fibre in whole wheat is the bulking type,which helps in smooth functioning of the gastro-intestinal tract,but does not contribute to cholesterol reduction.