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Samak rice is known by many names such as Barnyard millet, sama seeds, samo seeds, samvat grains or sama grains. It is an ancient millet that is widely cultivated in countries like India, Japan and Korea. A study says that India is the biggest producer of minor millet such as samak rice. 
Botanically, samak rice is not a grain but wild seeds, which is why it is preferred during festivals to prepare foods for fasting. They are tiny, cream-coloured and round grains and smaller in size than rice grains. The texture is similar to semolina and broken wheat and tastes like broken rice. Cooked samak rice clump together like upma rather than separating into individual grains.
The grains of samak rice are valued for their high nutrition and low cost, compared to other grains like wheat, rice and maize. Also, the crop is known to grow in any adverse environmental conditions and can withstand both abiotic and biotic stresses, making it an ideal supplementary crop during failure of monsoons in certain areas. The crop is known to provide food security to many poor people around the world.
Samak rice is packed with fibre, protein and micronutrients like zinc and iron and has an abundance of health benefits. In this article, we will discuss the health benefits of samak rice and how it is different from regular rice. Take a look.
Health Benefits Of Samak Rice
1. Helps maintain blood sugar levels
Samak rice may help maintain blood sugar levels and thus help people with diabetes in managing their condition. According to a study, barnyard millet contains average carbohydrates (51.5 and 62.0 g/100 g) compared to other millet types and is also rich in crude fibre (8.1 and 16.3%.) compared to other cereals. This ensures effective management of sugar levels in the body. 
2. Helps lower cholesterol levels
Samak rice is rich in resistant starch; studies say that resistant starch acts like fibre and help reduce inflammation in the body and improve the health of gut bacteria, thus reducing LDL or bad cholesterol and total cholesterol in the body. However, it is suggested to avoid its overconsumption as it may lead to stomach problems like bloating and constipation. 
3. Helps in growth and development
Protein is a vital nutrient that is important for the growth and development and repair of body cells. Studies say that protein in samak rice is higher compared to other major millets and cereals. It is in between 11.2-12.7%. Consumption of barnyard millet can help in the development of muscle mass and the body and help maintain its good health. 
4. Helps prevent the risk of anaemia
Anaemia deficiency is a common problem in women around the world. Studies say that this short-duration crop is rich in iron content, around 16 mg/100 g, and can help the consumer maintain the iron content in the body. Iron in samak rice may also help improve vital functions of the body, regulate body temperature and help maintain respiratory health. 
5. Helps absorption of body nutrients
Samak rice is low in phytic acid, a naturally found anti-nutrient in the plants that prevent the absorption of certain minerals like calcium and magnesium in the body. Compared to other grains like whole wheat and rice, samak rice helps in greater absorption of the aforementioned nutrients and thus, benefit the body. 
6. Has anti-carcinogenic properties
Barnyard millet is rich in compounds like alkaloids, tannins, steroids, phenols and flavonoids which have cancer-preventive properties. Also, the millet has an active compound vanillin that may help inhibit cell proliferation and prevent the risk of cancer types such as colon cancer. 
7. Prevents digestive problems
Studies say that samak rice is good for constipation-related diseases and other digestive problems like flatulence, bloating, stomach pain and bad digestion. Consumption of this rice can help prevent the aforementioned disorders and help maintain good digestive health.
8. Good for people with Celiac disease
Barnyard millet is low in calories and is gluten-free. Gluten-containing diets are strictly prohibited for people with Celiac disease or those with gluten sensitivity. Eating gluten by such people can trigger an immune reaction in response and damage the small intestine lining, causing medical complications. As samak rice is gluten-free, it can be a good food option for people with the aforementioned medical conditions. 
How Is Samak Rice Different From Regular Rice?
Samak rice is different from regular rice in many ways. It is high in resistant starch, protein, iron, zinc and various polyphenols and antioxidants compared to regular rice. The prior is in fact not rice but a millet grown in warm and temperature areas around the world.
Regular rice is grown as a major grain while samak rice is produced as a supplementary or minor millet. However, the latter helps provide food security to poor people as it can withstand any environmental conditions and survive the climatic changes such as heavy rain, which the prior is unable to maintain. Samak rice is also low in cost compared to other cereals and rice.
Though regular rice is mainly used as a staple food and has an abundance of health benefits, samak rice is a good replacement for regular rice for people with Celiac disease as it is gluten-free and also has many health benefits, some even higher than regular rice. Also, as samak rice is not a 'true grain', it is highly consumed by people during festivals to prepare vrat-related food items.
People nowadays are shifting from regular rice consumption to healthy and better food alternatives and samak rice is one of them. Consult a medical expert or a nutritionist to know more about its health benefits, dosage and how to include it in your diet.
Yes, samak rice could be great food for weight loss as it is low in calories and high in resistant starch and protein. Consumption of this millet can help keep the person fuller for longer and prevent unnecessary binging of unhealthy foods.
Samak rice is not a ‘real rice' or rice grain but seeds from the plant Echinochloa colona, prepared after the dehulling process. It tastes similar to broken rice and after cooking looks like upma.
In English, samak rice is known as barnyard millet. It also has other names like sama seeds, samo seeds, samvat grains or sama grains.
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