Go for the Brown!

brown riceThere are 2 main categories of rice: white rice and brown rice.  White rice is is more popular and more available than the brown rice in most part of the world. Why is that? For one thing, uncooked brown rice has a considerably shorter shelf life (about 6 months) than uncooked white rice (8-10 years) due to the oils in the germ layer of brown rice. Therefore, back in the days where we did not have the efficiency and technology as we have today, it is more desirable to have white rice as it could be served as a survival food for long-term storage. In addition, brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice because of the outer layers of bran that white rice lacks, making white rice more convenient.

However, just like wheat products, all rice is not created equal.  Brown rice is unmilled or partly milled rice, making it a whole, natural grain. White rice, however is completely milled and polished: unfortunately, the process 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. Fully milled and polished white rice is required to be “enriched” with vitamins B1, B3 and iron. But it is not the same as  the original unprocessed version, and at least 11 lost nutrients are not replaced in any form even with rice “enrichment.”

Health-wise, it is better to eat brown rice.

The benefits:

  1. Brown Rice for Cholesterol Reduction:
    The rice bran oil, which is present only in brown rice, contains gamma-oryzanol, a compound with the ability to lower cholesterol.
  2. Brown Rice for Type 2 Diabetes:
    Brown rice and other whole grains are a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that acts as a co-factor for more than 300 enzymes, including enzymes involved in the body’s use of glucose and insulin secretion. Researchers have found that eating five or more servings of white rice per week was associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. In contrast, eating two or more servings of brown rice per week was associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. The researchers estimated that replacing 50 grams of white rice (just one third of a typical daily serving) with the same amount of brown rice would lower risk of type 2 diabetes by 16%.
  3. Brown Rice for Cancer Prevention:
    Inositol hexaphosphate, a naturally occurring molecule found in high-fiber foods such as brown rice, is a compound that has been shown to demonstrate cancer prevention properties.
  4. Brown Rice for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention:
    Research suggests that subaleurone components in a layer of tissue surrounding grains of brown rice may work against angiotensin II. Angiotensin II is an endocrine protein and a known culprit in the development of high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. Researchers found that subaleurone components that were selected by an ethyl acetate extraction inhibited angiotensin II activity in the cultured vascular smooth muscle cells. This suggests that the subaleurone layer of rice offers protection against high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.

Of course, these are just the main benefits of brown rice and there are plenty more. So next time, when you’re in a restaurant and have the option for white rice or brown rice, go with the brown rice.