Brown rice is a storehouse of many essential nutrients. These nutrients help lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels and keep blood pressure in check. They prevent cancer, gallstones as well as childhood asthma. Magnesium in brown rice keeps bones healthy and regulates the nervous system. Moreover, brown rice fills your stomach fast and keeps you in shape.
Rice is the staple food in many parts of the world. It was brown rice at first–straight from the farm to the plate. When white rice started flooding the market, we turned our attention towards it because white was pretty, looked nice on the plate, not to mention it was softer and easier to cook. But here’s news. Brown rice is back in the race to be the best whole grain available in the market.
Unpolished whole grain rice or brown rice is produced by removing only the hull or the husk using a mortar and pestle or rubber rolls. It may be brown, reddish or purplish in color. Depending on the hulling process, the embryo may or may not be left intact which makes it all the more nutritious.
Brown rice is rich in fiber, carbohydrates and minerals like manganese and selenium,2 and phytonutrients like lignans and phenolics.
What does it mean to your health? Plenty of health benefits. Here are some:
1. Lowers Cholesterol And Blood Pressure
The American Heart Association recommends half the serving on the plate to be whole grains which include brown rice to reduce cholesterol. Brown rice has not just fiber but bran also which is believed to lower LDL or bad cholesterol. Studies have been done on the effect of soluble and insoluble fiber in the diet on lowering blood pressure levels. The study results have been mixed but user reviews suggest brown rice diet could regulate blood pressure.
2. Aids Weight Loss And Controls Diabetes
A lot of times weight gain and obesity are the results of our insatiable appetite for calorie-rich “tasty” food. It may come as a surprise to you but brown rice can really act on your brain to choose healthy food. This is mainly thanks to y-oryzanol (Orz), a major component in brown rice that acts as a chemical chaperone and reduces the endoplasmic reticulum stress on the hypothalamus induced by high-fat diet. This compound has been found to be excellent in preventing diabetes related to obesity. Moreover, brown rice has a high amount of phytic acid, polyphenols, dietary fiber and oil that help bring blood sugar levels down.
3. Has Antioxidant Properties
Fruits and vegetables are often considered as antioxidant foods. Add to them brown rice too which helps scavenge free radicals in the body. Free radicals are formed when we exercise or when the body converts food to energy and can cause cell damage resulting in many diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, etc. These free radicals need to be handled by taking antioxidant-rich food.8 Brown rice has phenolics and flavonoids which make it an antioxidant food.
4. Prevents Cancer And Gallstones
Studies have shown whole grains like brown rice have antimutagenic and chemopreventive effects,10 a lot of which can be attributed to the antioxidant properties mentioned above.
A regular diet of brown rice can prevent gallstones, too. It is the fiber content in the brown rice that does the trick.
5. It Can Also Prevent Childhood Asthma
There is a growing concern about the increasing prevalence of asthma in children in western societies. This can largely be attributed to the change in their diet. Including a diet rich in whole grains and fish can prevent its occurrence to a great extent, studies reveal.
6. Regulates Nervous System
Brown rice has a good amount of magnesium in it which helps regulate the function of the nervous system. Magnesium is a major mineral that plays an important role as a calcium channel blocker preventing calcium from rushing into the nerve cells and activating them. By blocking calcium, magnesium keeps our nervous system relaxed. Insufficient magnesium in the body can lead to a lot of health issues like high blood pressure, migraine headaches, muscle spasms, etc.
7. Aids Healthy Bone Formation
We have always known calcium to be a major player in keeping our bones healthy. But magnesium, found in abundance in brown rice, has a part to play, too. Bones are our storehouse of magnesium; two-thirds of magnesium in our body is stored in our bones. Brown rice can help keep those storage space replenished.14
Is Brown Rice Better Than White Rice?
Yes, it is. While a lot of nutritional benefits of brown rice come from the fiber left intact on it, white rice is the product of thorough polishing. The complete milling destroys 67 percent of vitamin B3, 80 percent of vitamin B1, 90 percent of vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, and 60 percent of iron. Almost all of dietary fiber and essential fatty acids are lost in the milling process making white rice a poor cousin of brown rice in nutrition.
While brown rice helps lower the blood glucose levels, white rice cannot do this because the high amounts of phytic acid, polyphenols, and dietary fiber in brown rice get lost in milling.
Types Of Brown Rice And Their Benefits
Brown rice comes in various forms–long grain, short grain, basmati rice, germinated brown rice, etc. While all the varieties are nutritious, it is the germinated brown rice or GBR that tops the hierarchy. Many studies have been conducted to understand why GBR is better than the best. It is not only better in nutritional components like vitamins, minerals, fiber and essential amino acids, it contains more bioactive compounds like ferulic acid, y-oryzanol and gamma-aminobutyric acid. These nutrients boost the immune system, lowers blood pressure, inhibits the development of cancer cells and lowers anxiety. Moreover, it is found to be higher than other varieties in antioxidant activity.
So the next time you are given a choice between white and brown rice, pass on the white and settle for the brown. Try the germinated brown rice