Rava, Sooji, Semolina!!!

These are all different names given to the same product. This is a wheat product. It is produced by refining wheat, that is, the outer brown covering of the wheat grain is removed by polishing the grain and a product which is creamy white or light yellowish brown is obtained. This grain is then broken into various sizes varying from fine grains to bigger coarser grains. Unfortunately sooji or rava then has lost almost all its fiber and with this fiber or outer covering it loses many of the nutrients present in whole wheat or wheat flour.

We will understand this better when we compare it with whole wheat flour. The fiber content of whole wheat flour our (atta) is almost 2gms where as rava fiber content is 0.2gms. The calorie value is almost the same. 100gms of rava is 350 calories and atta is about 340 -345 calories. Whole wheat is a special cereal in that it contains a significant amount of calcium and absorbable iron as compared to rice.

However rava inspite of being a wheat product, when polished loses its calcium and iron. Whole wheat flour contains 45-50mg calcium (per 100gms) and about 11mg of iron. Rava contains only 15mg of calcium and 1.5 mg of iron. Whole wheat is also known for its high B vitamin content. Thiamine 0.5mg, riboflavin 0.15mg and niacin 4.0 mg. Where as rava has thiamine 0.12, riboflavin 0.02 and niacin 1.5mg. B vitamins are very important in various metabolic processes in the body and skin.

Rava items are very popular as a breakfast dish in south India and also as a snack which is easy and quick to prepare in the evening. Many feel that it is a wheat item so itís a better choice than rice items like rice idli or dosa. Unfortunately it is very heavy in terms of calories once cooked. 100gms of raw rava is 350 calories 100gms of raw rice is also 350 calories. When 100gm rice is cooked it becomes 2.5 cups in volume and the 350 calories is distributed in 2.5 cups of cooked rice. When 100gm of rava is cooked it becomes 1.5 cups in volume so the 350 calories is distributed in 1.5 cups of cooked rava. Also rava has a sticky nature so when ever we prepare rava items, whether upma or rava idli or payasam we always fry the rava in oil or ghee to prevent lumps from forming. This further increases the calorie value.

Therefore one cup of rava upma will be at least 200-250 calories and one rava idli will be 80-100 calories as compared to one cup cooked rice of 100-150 calories and one rice idli of 50-60 calories. Whole wheat bread or dry rotis on the other hand are only 50-60 calories for one piece. It is safer to eat a sandwich of two slices of whole wheat bread at breakfast or teatime with the glass of skimmed milk rather than a cup of upma.

Therefore we advice that those on a strict weight reduction diet, diabetic patients and those who have high cholesterol or high triglyceride levels should try to avoid rava items as far as possible or at least till they reduce their weight or sugar or lipid levels come to normal.

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