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L.Srikumar Pai
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Brown rice healthier than white rice?
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HEALTHY FOODS — By Mini Padikkal — Rice is often the first solid food offered to an infant. It is the least allergenic grain and that is why often recommended as a first introductory food. Brown rice has more nutrition than regular white rice because in brown rice only the outermost layer (husk) is removed. In white rice bran layer and germ — which are rich in essential nutrients — are also removed. Let us see the health benefits brown rice offers us. Whole-grain brown rice contains all three layers of the kernel-the bran, germ and endosperm — which provides superior nutrition value over white rice. Brown rice is rich in lignans, phytoestrogens and phenolic compounds that are high in antioxidant activity. Most people associate antioxidants with blueberries and green tea, but many are unaware that brown rice is also a source of antioxidants.

Brown rice contains important nutrients such as thiamine, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, iron, riboflavin and five times the fibre of white rice. A cup of the nutrient-rich grain provides you with 14 per cent of recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of fibre. One of the main health purposes of eating high-fibre diets is they are natural remedy for constipation problems. It contains useful B vitamin to help convert food into energy and keep the nervous system healthy. The germ provides natural vitamin E.

• Regular consumption of brown rice and other whole grains has been shown to help prevent heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. It is a good source of fibre and reasonably low glycaemic index food that can control blood sugar levels and may be helpful for diabetics. Unlike stripped rice, brown rice can help keep blood sugar stabilised, as it releases sugars slowly and in a sustained fashion. This makes it a better option for diabetics, as compared to white rice. While studies in Asia have shown a link between the consumption of white rice and risk of Type-2 Diabetes, new research shows that individuals who eat at least two servings of brown rice weekly can reduce their chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes by up to 11 per cent.

• Unlike white rice, brown rice retains its wholeness. Studies show that six servings of whole grains weekly can lower the creation of arterial plaque build-up and reduce chances of developing heart disease and high cholesterol. The bran of rice contains the phyto chemicals that may reduce cholesterol.

• A study report published by the America Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2003 mentioned the significant role of brown rice in maintaining an ideal body weight. Women who consumed brown rice regularly were found to weigh less compared to those who had not. For weight loss, you should consider replacing your white rice with brown rice.

• Abundant with a compound known as folacin, brown rice promotes the production of red blood cells. Besides, folacin has a list of wonderful health facts. It also assists in the development of spinal cord and brain of the unborn baby.

• Brown rice has a good source of selenium. The high amount of fibre in brown rice is excellent for cleansing the colon. Selenium present in brown rice has been shown to substantially reduce the risk of colon cancer.

• One cup of brown rice gives us over 80 per cent of our daily manganese requirements. This mineral helps the human body create the important fatty acids that make healthy forms of cholesterol. It is also beneficial to the health of our nervous and reproductive systems.

• Brown rice helps to prevent Gallstones. Eating foods high in insoluble fibre, such as brown rice, can help women avoid gallstones, shows a study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

When buying brown rice, look for the expiry date as brown rice tends to get rancid soon. The essential oil in the germ of the rice is very susceptible to oxidation and soon goes rancid. Freezing or refrigeration will greatly extend its storage life. Just making the switch from white rice to brown rice is a great first step to healthy diet.

(The writer is a dietician at Atlas star Medical Centre, Al Khuwair, Muscat)

( Courtesy: The Oman Observer. Read the article )




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