4 surprising and healthy reasons to save rice water after cooking

Science and Health

Rice has always been a beloved staple food for its simplicity and convenience. Most people discard the cloudy water from cooking rice without a second thought. However, recent studies suggest this water may have surprising health benefits. Let’s explore some of the most intriguing findings on rice water and learn how to make it even more beneficial.

Improved Digestion:

Rice has long been used as a natural remedy for diarrhea and soft stools. Interestingly, the water in which rice is cooked also contains starches and other compounds that can positively impact the digestive system. A comprehensive review published in the National Institutes of Health’s journal in 2021 supports this notion. To experience the digestive benefits of rice water, experts recommend drinking it after cooking. However, it is essential to note that excessive consumption may lead to higher arsenic levels, which can be harmful.

Healthier Hair:

If your hair has been damaged by chemical treatments or styling, rice water may offer a simple solution. A study conducted in ancient Japan revealed that women bathed in rice water to maintain long, healthy, and abundant hair.

This tradition continues in Huang Luo, a Chinese village known as the “village of long hair,” where women have an average length of 180 centimeters. Although scientific evidence is limited, a 2010 study suggested that rice water can improve hair strength and elasticity, possibly due to the presence of inositol. Further research is needed to establish definitive conclusions.

Enhanced Skin Health:

In 2013, a study highlighted the potential benefits of fermented rice water for skin health. It showed that fermented rice water could help repair sun damage, boost collagen production, and reduce signs of aging such as wrinkles and lines. Other studies on rice water’s antioxidants have also suggested its anti-aging properties. These findings have contributed to rice water’s popularity in the beauty industry, but it is essential to approach these studies with caution due to their limited scope.

Alleviating Skin Issues:

Rice water can also be used to treat dryness, redness, and irritation in various parts of the body. It naturally contains sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), commonly added to skincare products. Studies have indicated that SLS effectively reduces skin irritation and dryness when used twice daily. However, individuals with sensitivity to SLS may experience adverse effects.

Is rice water a magical elixir that guarantees better health and youthfulness? Definitely not. Is everything claimed about its benefits an exaggeration? Probably not entirely. Like many health trends, rice water may offer particular advantages to specific individuals, but it is unlikely to be life-changing. If you decide to incorporate rice water into your skincare routine, follow these steps:

  1. Cook the rice as usual, use a spoon to release beneficial chemicals into the water, filter the water, and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
  2. If you prefer fermented rice water for enhanced skin health, follow the same steps, but let the water sit at room temperature for a day or two until it develops a slightly sour smell.
  3. Refrigerate it and dilute it with plain water before use.