Health Benefits of Brown rice

Brown rice

Rice is one of the most important foods in the world, supplying as much as half of the daily calories for half of the world's population. No wonder that in Asian countries, such as Thailand, rice is so highly valued that the translation of the word "to eat" literally means "to eat rice."

Asked to name the types of rice they are familiar with, people may be able to recall one or two. Yet, in actuality there is an abundance of different types of rice over 8,000 varieties. Oftentimes, rice is categorized by its size as being either short grain, medium grain or long grain. Short grain, which has the highest starch content, makes the stickiest rice, while long grain is lighter and tends to remain separate when cooked. The qualities of medium grain fall between the other two types.

The Scientific Name for Rice is Oryza Sativa

Another way that rice is classified is according to the degree of milling that it undergoes. This is what makes a brown rice different than white rice. Brown rice, often referred to as whole rice or cargo rice, is the whole grain with only its inedible outer hull removed. Brown rice still retains its nutrient-rich bran and germ. White rice, on the other hand, is both milled and polished, which removes the bran and germ along with all the nutrients that reside within these important layers.

Some of the most popular varieties of rice in this country include:
  • Arborio: A round grain, starchy white rice, traditionally used to make the Italian dish risotto.
  • Basmati: An aromatic rice that has a nutlike fragrance, delicate flavor and light texture.
  • Sweet rice: Almost translucent when it is cooked, this very sticky rice is traditionally used to make sushi and mochi.
  • Jasmine: A soft-textured long grain aromatic rice that is available in both brown and white varieties.
  • Bhutanese red rice: Grown in the Himalayas, this red colored rice has a nutty, earthy taste.
  • Forbidden rice: A black colored rice that turns purple upon cooking and has a sweet taste and sticky texture.

Nutritional Benefits

The Chinese word for rice and food are the same namely fan, and in some of the world's poorest countries rice is a staple food.

Typically, brown rice contains thiamin, niacin, folic acid, biotin, pantothenic acid and pyridoxine. If grown in selenium-rich soil it can be a useful source of this trace mineral, and it also has good levels of potassium, iron, zinc, manganese and magnesium and low levels of sodium. Many products, such as cereals, milks, desserts and crackers, are made from rice and can form a valuable part of a wheat-free diet.

Brown rice is rice that has undergone minimal refining and polishing and therefore still contains high levels of nutrients and fiber. The difference between brown rice and white rice is not just color! The complete milling and polishing that converts brown rice into white rice destroys 67 percent of the vitamin B3 (niacin), 80 percent of the vitamin B1 (thiamin), 90 percent of the vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60 percent of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids. Fully milled and polished white rice is required to be "enriched" with vitamins B1, B3 and iron.

Health Benefits

Why Brown-But Not White-Rice is One of the World's Healthiest Foods
The difference between brown rice and white rice is not just color! A whole grain of rice has several layers. Only the outermost layer, the hull, is removed to produce what we call brown rice. This process is the least damaging to the nutritional value of the rice and avoids the unnecessary loss of nutrients that occurs with further processing. If brown rice is further milled to remove the bran and most of the germ layer, the result is a whiter rice, but also a rice that has lost many more nutrients. At this point, however, the rice is still unpolished, and it takes polishing to produce the white rice we are used to seeing. Polishing removes the aleurone layer of the grain a layer filled with health-supportive, essential fats. Because these fats, once exposed to air by the refining process, are highly susceptible to oxidation, this layer is removed to extend the shelf life of the product. The resulting white rice is simply a refined starch that is largely bereft of its original nutrients.

Our food ranking system qualified brown rice as an excellent source of manganese, and a good source of the minerals selenium and magnesium. The complete milling and polishing that converts brown rice into white rice destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1, 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids. By law in the United States, fully milled and polished white rice must be "enriched" with vitamins B1, B3, and iron. But the form of these nutrients when added back into the processed rice is not the same as in the original unprocessed version, and at least 11 lost nutrients are not replaced in any form even with rice "enrichment."

Here are some of the ways in which the nutrients supplied by brown rice can make an important difference in your health:

Manganese - Energy Production Plus Antioxidant Protection
Just one cup of brown rice will provide you with 88.0% of the daily value for manganese. This trace mineral helps produce energy from protein and carbohydrates and is involved in the synthesis of fatty acids, which are important for a healthy nervous system, and in the production of cholesterol, which is used by the body to produce sex hormones. Manganese is also a critical component of a very important antioxidant enzyme called superoxide dismutase. Superoxide dismutase (SOD) is found inside the body's mitochondria (the oxygen-based energy factories inside most of our cells) where it provides protection against damage from the free radicals produced during energy production.

Women Who Eat Whole Grains Weigh Less
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition underscores the importance of choosing whole grains such as brown rice rather than refined grain, i.e., white rice, to maintain a healthy body weight. In this Harvard Medical School/Brigham and Women's Hospital study, which collected data on over 74,000 female nurses aged 38-63 years over a 12 year period, weight gain was inversely associated with the intake of high-fiber, whole-grain foods but positively related to the intake of refined-grain foods. Not only did women who consumed more whole grains consistently weigh less than those who ate less of these fiber-rich foods, but those consuming the most dietary fiber from whole grains were 49% less likely to gain weight compared to those eating foods made from refined grains.

Brown Rice is Rich in Fiber and Selenium
For people worried about colon cancer risk, brown rice packs a double punch by being a concentrated source of the fiber needed to minimize the amount of time cancer-causing substances spend in contact with colon cells, and being a very good source of selenium, a trace mineral that has been shown to substantially reduce the risk of colon cancer.

In addition to supplying 14.0% of the daily value for fiber, a cup of cooked brown rice provides 27.3% of the DV for selenium, an important benefit since many Americans do not get enough selenium in their diets, yet this trace mineral is of fundamental importance to human health. Selenium is an essential component of several major metabolic pathways, including thyroid hormone metabolism, antioxidant defense systems, and immune function. Accumulated evidence from prospective studies, intervention trials and studies on animal models of cancer has suggested a strong inverse correlation between selenium intake and cancer incidence. Several mechanisms have been suggested to explain the cancer-preventive activities of selenium. Selenium has been shown to induce DNA repair and synthesis in damaged cells, to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells, and to induce their apoptosis, the self-destruct sequence the body uses to eliminate worn out or abnormal cells.

In addition, selenium is incorporated at the active site of many proteins, including glutathione peroxidase, which is particularly important for cancer protection. One of the body's most powerful antioxidant enzymes, glutathione peroxidase is used in the liver to detoxify a wide range of potentially harmful molecules. When levels of glutathione peroxidase are too low, these toxic molecules are not disarmed and wreak havoc on any cells with which they come in contact, damaging their cellular DNA and promoting the development of cancer cells.

Not only does selenium play a critical role in cancer prevention as a cofactor of glutathione peroxidase, selenium also works with vitamin E in numerous other vital antioxidant systems throughout the body. These powerful antioxidant actions make selenium helpful in the prevention not only of cancer, but also of heart disease, and for decreasing the symptoms of asthma and the pain and inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis.

Lower Cholesterol with Whole Brown Rice
Here's yet another reason to rely on whole foods, such as brown rice, for your healthy way of eating. The oil in whole brown rice lowers cholesterol.

When Marlene Most and colleagues from Louisiana State University evaluated the effects of rice bran and rice bran oil on cholesterol levels in volunteers with moderately elevated cholesterol levels, they found that rice bran oil lowered their LDL (bad) cholesterol.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, was divided into two parts. First, 26 subjects ate a diet including 13-22g of dietary fiber each day for three weeks, after which 13 switched to a diet that added defatted rice bran to double their fiber intake for five weeks. In the second part of the study, a randomized crossover trial, 14 subjects ate a diet with rice bran oil for 10 weeks.

While the diet including only defatted rice bran did not lower cholesterol, the one containing rice bran oil lowered LDL cholesterol by 7%. Since all the diets contained similar fatty acids, the researchers concluded that the reduction in cholesterol seen in those receiving rice bran oil must have been due to other constituents such as the unsaponifiable compounds found in rice bran oil. The scientists suggest that the unsaponifiables present in rice bran oil could become important functional foods for cardiovascular health. But why extract just one beneficial compound from brown rice when you can reap all the cardioprotective benefits supplied by the matrix of nutrients naturally present in this delicious whole food? In addition to unsaponifiables, this whole grain also supplies hefty doses of heart-healthy fiber, magnesium, and B vitamins.

Consumption Tips

  • Before cooking brown rice, rinse it properly under the cold running water. Check it properly, to remove any dirt or debris present therein.
  • Cook one cup of rice in two cup of boiling water or broth. Once the liquid boils, turn down the heat and cover the container. Simmer the rice for 45 minutes.

Caution

Brown rice is not seen to have any negative effect on the body, including any allergic effect. It does not contain any significant amount of oxalates and purines. However, the rice that is not grown organically is seen to contain traces of arsenic. Though low doses of arsenic are not seen to cause any serious diseases, its heavy intake can make one more susceptible to the risk of cancer. So, always go for the organically grown brown rice, as it is free of arsenic content.




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