Why Is Brown Rice Healthy? the Nutritional and Health Benefits of Brown Rice
About Rice And Brown Rice
Rice is obtained from the plant Oryza sativa.
Rice is native to China and is a staple food in Asia and has been cultivated for about 9000 years by primitive man. It is the most widely consumed staple food in the world.
There are 8000 varieties of rice but all rice is categorized into 3 main types based on the grain length :
- Long grain
- Medium grain
- Short grain
Short grain rice is the stickiest as it contains the highest starch content while long grain rice remains separate and has the lowest starch content.
Another type of classification of rice is based on the degree of milling of the grain. Thus on this basis. there are 2 types of rice :
- Brown rice
- White rice
Brown rice is nothing but rice which has only the husk removed. Quite simply, It is unpolished rice. Since brown rice has the bran layer retained it takes longer to cook. Because of the bran brown rice has a nutty flavor and is of firmer texture than white rice.
Since brown rice has only the husk removed, it is considered a whole grain as it has the bran and the germ intact. It retains all of its nutrients and is much healthier than white rice. The only drawback is that it has a shorter shelf life since it can go rancid quicker due to the fatty acids in the bran.
White rice is made from brown rice. However converting brown rice to white rice reduces its nutritional content and value. It destroys 67% of niacin, 80% of thiamine(B1), 90% of pyridoxine(B6), 50% of manganese, 50% of phosphorus, 60% of iron, all dietary fiber and essential fatty acids.
However in the United States, by law, white rice needs to be enriched with Vitamins B1, B6 and iron. The forms of the nutrients that are enriched are different from the form the unprocessed rice has. Moreover, at least 11 of the nutrients so lost by processing are not added back at all, even after enrichment.
It is an irony that brown rice inspite of being healthier is counted as inferior and a poor man's food as it does not have the look of sophistication which people are looking for.
Parts Of A Rice Grain
Nutrients In Brown Rice
1 cup or 195 grams of brown rice provides the following major nutrients:
- 216 Calories, which is about 12% of the daily requirement.
- 88% of the daily value of Manganese.
- 27% of the daily requirement of Selenium.
- 20.9% of the Magnesium requirement.
- 16% of the Phosphorus needs.
- 9.5% of the daily Copper requirement.
- 8% of the Zinc daily value.
- 14% of the daily dietary fiber requirement.
- Over 12.5% of the Vitamin B1 daily needs.
- 14.9% of the Niacin requirement.
- 5.6% of the Pantothenic acid value.
- 4.5% of the Iron required daily.
Nutritional Benefits Of Brown Rice
Some of the nutritional benefits of brown rice are :
- Zero cholesterol.
- Presence of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
- Also present are a number of amino acids which include lysine, methionine and tryptophan.
- Many powerful phytonutrients like phenolics etc.
- Brown rice has a lower Glycemic Load than white rice.
Apart from these, there are many other nutrients that along with the ones listed here make brown rice a super food to contend with both in nutrient content and health benefits.
Health Benefits Of Brown Rice
- Reduces Risk Of Diabetes
According to a study, the risk of diabetes rises by 11% for each serving of white rice eaten per day.
Also, brown rice reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Brown rice is rich in magnesium and magnesium is a co factor in enzymes that regulate our body's use of glucose as well as for insulin secretion.
It has been foundthat regularly eating whole grains like brown rice reduces risk of type 2 diabetes by helping to better regulate blood sugar levels.
- Controls Weight
Brown rice is a low energy, high density food. It fills one up but is low in calories. Its starch is a Resistant starch which is type of carbohydrate that boosts metabolism and burns fat.
Scientists at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center for Human Nutrition in Denver along with a team of international researchers found that the right carbs (read Resistant starch) will make one slimmer and stay slim since these carbs,
Improve fat loss especially from the belly by shrinking the fat cells, raise the muscle mass, controls hunger by keeping the tummy full longer, control blood sugar and also lower the triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
Brown rice is rich in dietary fiber as well and in a study it has been found that intake of whole grain foods like brown rice prevented weight gain and those who ate more of these foods weighed less than those who ate less of such fiber rich foods.
- Protects And Reduces Risk Of Cancers
A study has found that fiber from whole grains like brown rice protects and reduces the risk of breast cancer in premenopausal women. This is directly proportional to the amount of fiber consumed so it makes sense to eat more brown rice.
The plant lignans protect against breast cancer and other hormone related cancers and also heart disease. Eating brown rice raises the blood levels of this health protecting lignan, the enterolactone, according to studies.
- Reduces Risk Of Colon Cancer
Brown rice has many powerful phytonutrientswhich are powerful antioxidants as well. For example, the phenolics include quercetin, ellagic acid, cucurmin, catechins etc. These are mostly found in bound form in brown rice unlike their free form which is found in most commonly eaten fruits and vegetables.
These phenolics are released by the intestinal bacteria only during digestion and because the normal testing procedures measure only the free phenolics, the antioxidant activity of brown rice was greatly underestimated initially as 99% of these phenolics are in bound form and not in the free form.
- Prevents Gallstones
A study shows consumption of foods high in insoluble fiber like brown rice prevents the formation of gallstones. The higher the consumption the lower the risk.
The insoluble fiber in brown rice not only speeds up the movement of food in the intestine but also reduces the amount of bile acids secreted. It is known that excess of bile acids are responsible for gallstone formation.
- Makes Bones Healthy
Brown rice is rich in magnesium and this mineral helps in making the bones strong.. The importance of this mineral can be judged by the fact that 2/3 of the magnesium in our body is concentrated in our bones. and a major portion is stored over the surface of the bone for quick retrieval in times of need.
Brown rice is very useful as 1 cup provides 21% of the daily magnesium needs.
- Reduces Cholesterol, Prevents Atherosclerosis, Protects The Heart
Diets high in rice protein like in brown rice help to keep the levels of nitric oxide in blood high. Nitric oxide improves blood vessel dilation and also prevents the oxidation of cholesterol by free radicals thus preventing deposition of plaques in the arteries. This has been found in a study.
Brown rice also lowers cholesterol levels because of the oil content as well as the unsaponifiable compounds that brown rice has in the bran. Rice bran oil has been found to lower LDL cholesterol as well as provide heart protective benefits. All these benefits can be derived by eating brown rice. It also lowers blood pressure.
- Benefits Of Excellent Manganese Levels
Brown rice is extremely rich in manganese. 1 cup provides 88% of the daily requirement. This provides wonderful antioxidant protection against free radical damage and helps to keep the nervous system healthy, helps in synthesis of fatty acids and also in energy production.
- Benefits Of High Selenium Levels
1 cup of brown rice provides about 28% of the daily value of this mineral which reduces risk of colon cancer. Selenium also reduces risk of heart disease and reduces inflammation thus reducing asthmatic symptoms and pain and inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis.
- Reduces Childhood Asthma
In studies, it was found that whole grains like brown rice and fish reduced wheezing and asthmatic symptoms.
However, wheat consumption should be avoided as it a common allergen for asthma, even though it is a whole grain.
Do you use brown rice?
Parboiled rice is rice that has been partially boiled in the husk Parboiling drives nutrients, especially thiamine, from the bran to endosperm hence parboiled white rice is 80% nutritionally similar to brown rice. This rice takes less time to cook and is firmer and less sticky.
The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.
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© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly