Health benefits of brown rice include better functioning of the cardiovascular system, digestive system, brain, and nervous system. It is loaded with powerful antioxidants which provide relief from a range of ailments such as hypertension, unhealthy levels of LDL cholesterol, stress, mental depression, and skin disorders. High nutritional content in brown rice proves effective in various medical conditions such as cancer, obesity, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders, and insomnia. It has anti-depressant properties and helps to maintain healthy bones and a strong immune system.
What Is Brown Rice?
Brown rice is an unrefined and unpolished whole grain which is produced by removing the surrounding hull of the rice kernel. Its grain retains its nutrient-dense bran and germ layer. It is chewier as compared to white rice and has a nutty flavor.
Germinated Brown Rice
Germinated brown rice, also known as ‘sprouted brown rice’, is another popular form of brown rice attributing to its high nutritional value. The high nourishing content of the germinated brown rice is due to the presence of gama-aminobutyric acid (GABA). The germinated form can be obtained by soaking and sprouting of the brown rice in water for a specified number of hours. This method has been considered best for obtaining the maximum amount of GABA and elevating the levels of proteins and good enzymes in the germinated brown rice. The process of germination also leads to significant increase in essential components such as ferulic acid, lysine, magnesium, potassium, vitamin E, niacin, vitamin B 6, thiamine, and dietary fiber in the brown rice. These nutrients aid in better absorption during digestion and prevent intestinal irritations, inflammations, and allergies. It can be stored in dried form to increase its shelf life without affecting its advanced nutritional worth.
Why Eat Brown Rice?
Most of us are aware of the fact that brown rice is better than white rice. The reason that makes it stand out is the quality and quantity of nutrients it offers. The process of milling that converts brown rice into white rice strips away most of its nutritional value. Brown rice thus retains its immense treasure of healthful constituents. There are many varieties of brown rice available in the market with their unique flavor, aromatic components, and varied concentration of fatty acids.
Brown Rice Nutrition Facts
Brown rice is a natural wholesome food rich in essential minerals such as manganese, iron, zinc, phosphorous, calcium, selenium, magnesium, and potassium. Its vitamin wealth includes vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6, folate, vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) and vitamin K. It is a source of protein and adds a good amount of fiber to our diet. Along with this, it is also a provider of health-supportive vital fatty acids.
Health Benefits Of Brown Rice
Introduction of brown rice in the diet brings tremendous health benefits discussed as under;
Brown rice is beneficial for diabetics and hyperglycemic individuals. It has a low glycemic index which is helpful in reducing insulin surges and assists in the stabilization of blood sugar levels in the body. A comparative study conducted in this regard revealed that it is rich in phytic acid, fiber, and essential polyphenols. It is a complex carbohydrate which helps in the slower release of sugar as compared to white rice. The American diabetes association also recommends choosing nutrient-dense brown rice over white rice for diabetics in order to accomplish the requirement of essential vitamins, fiber, and minerals in their diet.
Brown rice is rich in powerful antioxidants which protect against damage caused by oxygen free radicals. It contains an important antioxidant enzyme called superoxide dismutase which protects the cells from oxidation damage during energy production. A comparative study involving white and brown rice suggested that brown rice exhibits superior radical scavenging activity and aids in the prevention of various oxidation-mediated diseases such as coronary heart diseases.
Brown rice is instrumental in weight control for people combating obesity. It contains manganese which helps synthesize body fats. A study conducted in this regard revealed that the consumption of whole grains such as brown rice has positive effects on the body with respect to reduction in body mass index and fat. It also enhances the activity of glutathione peroxidase, an antioxidant enzyme, which helps to elevate the levels of HDL cholesterol in the obese individuals. Another comparative research also advocated the anti-obesity effects of germinated brown rice.
Germinated brown rice helps in the prevention of neurodegenerative complications such as Alzheimer’s disease attributing to the abundance of gama-aminobutyric acid. Sprouted brown rice contains helpful components which help in the inhibition of a harmful enzyme called prolyl endopeptidase, which is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. It is also beneficial for other cerebral disorders such as dementia and amnesia.
Lowers Stress in Lactating Women
Sprouted brown rice is beneficial for the mental health of lactating mothers. An investigative study has shown positive results in the nursing women with respect to reduction in mood disturbances, stages of depression and fatigue. It has also suggested that consumption of brown rice during lactation enhances body’s ability to resist stress and improves the overall immune defense.
Improves Digestive Health
Brown rice is a helpful staple which can be added to the daily diet for keeping a healthy digestive system. Fiber present in it helps regulate the bowel function and keeps you feeling full. A comparative study investigating the effects of white rice and brown rice during gastric digestion made it qualitatively evident that the bran layer on brown rice prevents the absorption of acid and humidity, resulting in better texture retention. Fiber content also brings relief from other conditions such as constipation and colitis.
Boosts Heart Health
Brown rice is rich in selenium which is beneficial for a healthy heart. Consumption of whole grains such as brown rice helps to reduce the blockage of arteries due to plaque buildup. This protective action reduces the risk of cardiac disorders such as high hypertension and vascular diseases. Studies conducted in this regard suggested that the tissue surrounding the grain of brown rice contains a component which acts against the endocrine protein angiotensin II, which plays a major role in the development of high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.
Controls Cholesterol Levels
Brown rice is a great option for maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol due to the presence of naturally occurring oils. An investigative study revealed that it possesses hypocholesterolemic qualities, thus regulating cholesterol catabolism. It contains beneficial nutrients that help in lipid and glucose metabolism. Another study conducted revealed that consumption of brown rice has shown significant improvement in the serum and HDL cholesterol concentrations in the subjects with chronic ethanol abuse. It also suggested that germinated brown rice extract helps in preventing the rise of liver triglycerides due to excessive alcohol intake due to the presence of gamma-aminobutyric acid.
Brown rice is helpful in the prevention of colon cancer, breast cancer, and leukemia. This beneficial effect can be attributed to the presence of potent antioxidants and high fiber content in it. The fiber content present in brown rice has the ability to bind itself to harmful cancer-causing toxins in the body. This prevents the toxins from attaching to the walls of the colon and helps eliminate them from the body. An investigative study evaluating the chemopreventive properties of brown rice validated that its bran contains essential phenols such as tricin, ferulic acid, and caffeic acid which is present at much lower levels in white rice. These phenolic components are valuable in inhibiting the proliferation of colon and breast cancer cells. Another study revealed the stimulatory effect of germinated brown rice on the induction of apoptosis and its inhibitory effects on the production of leukemia cancer cells. Furthermore, research has also validated the antitumor effects of dietary brown rice brans.
Boosts Nervous System Functioning
Brown rice is beneficial for the smooth functioning of the brain and nervous system. It helps in accelerating the metabolism in the brain owing to the presence of vitamin B and essential minerals such as manganese and magnesium. These essential minerals balance the activity of calcium in the body and help in the regulation of nerves and muscle tone. This rice also prevents the sudden surge of calcium into the nerve cells and activation of nerve, which aids in keeping the nerves and muscles relaxed and preventing excessive contraction. Vitamin E present in it also plays a vital role in preventing various brain diseases caused due to oxidative damage.
Germinated brown rice contains anti-depressant qualities and helps in combating anxiety-related disorders. An investigative study suggested that germinated brown rice contains essential amino acids such as glutamine, glycerin, and GABA. These inhibitory neurotransmitters facilitate a reduction in the allowance of messages associated with anxiety, depression, and stress in the brain, resulting in a relaxed state of well-being.
Brown rice is helpful in the treatment of insomnia as it is a natural source of the sleep hormone melatonin. It enhances the quality of sleep by relaxing the nerves and increasing the sleep cycle.
Brown rice is loaded with significant quantities of vitamins, minerals, and essential phenolic components which help boost the immune system of the body. It nourishes the body, accelerates healing, and enhances its ability to fight infections.
Improves Bone Health
Brown rice is helpful for the maintenance of healthy bones. It is rich in magnesium which, along with calcium, provides the bones their physical structure. Magnesium-rich brown rice prevents bone demineralization and is beneficial for medical conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis.
Rice is a staple food not just in Asia but across the world. Brown rice is available in many forms such as long grains, which are perfect for stir-fries, salads or pilafs, short grains which have a soft and sticky texture perfect for molds or puddings. Sweet brown rice can be served deliciously for desserts. Brown rice syrup is considered as a sweetener attributing to the presence of nutrients in the brown rice. It gives a sweet, nutty, and buttery flavor to baked goods and hot drinks.
How To Select And Store Brown Rice?
Brown rice contains essential natural oils which have the potential to go stale if stored for too long. It is advisable to check the expiry or ‘use by’ date to ensure freshness. Raw brown rice can be stored for up to six months in an airtight container at room temperature to keep the freshness intact. To extend its shelf life, it can be refrigerated. Cooked brown rice should be stored with caution. Incorrect storage of cooked rice triggers the growth of bacteria called Bacillus cereus which can cause food poisoning irrespective of reheating. It should neither be stored at room temperature and nor reheated more than once.
How to cook brown rice?
Brown rice takes a longer cooking time and requires more water because of its outer fiber coating. For one cup rice, you may use two and a half to three cups of water. Prior soaking of brown rice cuts down the cooking time. Soaked brown rice would take about 35-40 minutes to get ready.
Word of Caution: Brown rice is generally hypoallergenic and does not contain any significant amount of disturbing elements such as purines or oxalates.
Brown rice is a super whole grain which is packed with a high degree of healthy components. It extends its beneficial effects to many organs including the heart, digestion, brain, bones, muscles, cholesterol, and blood pressure. Brown rice treats skin conditions like psoriasis, promotes healthy skin, and restores hair loss. It has anti-aging qualities attributing to the presence of ferulic acid, an antioxidant which helps in the prevention of skin-aging. Brown rice is rich in folate which is essential during pregnancy for healthy growth of the fetus. Small portions of brown rice are also recommended for patients suffering from candida infections attributing to its richness in digestive enzymes which is apt for a weakened digestive system. It tones up the body and mind and helps combat general weakness and deficits in the body.