Rice is a staple food in many countries. It goes well with cuisines from different parts of the world. However, most prefer to have white rice, which is not considered healthy. The milling process strips away most of the nutritional value of white rice, but this does not mean you have to give up rice. Simply switch to brown rice for a healthier option.
Brown rice is an unrefined, unpolished whole grain. It is produced by merely removing the hulls surrounding the rice kernels, thus it is full of nutrients.
It is an excellent source of protein and fiber. It also contains a good amount of magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, calcium, selenium, and potassium as well as iron and zinc. The several vitamins present in brown rice are vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, E and K.
This whole grain is chewier than white rice and has a nutty flavor. You can use this rice for stir-fried meals, salads, pilafs as well as molds or puddings. It can also be used to prepare delicious desserts.
Introducing brown rice into your diet will bring tremendous health benefits.
1. Improves Cardiovascular Health
Brown rice is highly beneficial for a healthy heart. Its fiber content helps reduce blockage in the arteries due to plaque buildup.
A 2005 study published in the American Heart Journal reports that higher intake of cereal fiber and whole-grain products is associated with less progression of coronary atherosclerosis in postmenopausal women with established coronary artery disease.
Another 2014 study published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests that brown rice replacement in the diet may be useful to decrease the inflammatory marker level and several cardiovascular risk factors among non-menopausal overweight or obese females.
In a recent 2016 study published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, researchers concluded that the intake of whole grains is considered to have significant benefits in preventing chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, because of the contribution of phenolic compounds.
2. Lowers Bad Cholesterol
Brown rice is an excellent source of soluble fiber, which helps lower the level of ‘bad’ low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood.
The oil in brown rice also has been shown to lower levels of LDL cholesterol.
A 2005 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that rice bran oil, not fiber, lowers cholesterol in healthy, moderately hyper-cholesterolemic adults. The reduction of cholesterol was due to other components present in the rice bran oil, such as unsaponifiable compounds.
This rice also possesses hypo-cholesterolemic qualities and regulates cholesterol catabolism. A 2014 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that insulin resistance, total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol levels were reduced after consumption of brown rice. This benefit is partly due to lowering of the glycemic response with consumption of brown rice.
At the same time, a diet high in whole grains like brown rice can increase the level of high-density lipoproteins (HDL), or the good cholesterol, in your body.
3. Reduces Diabetes Risk
Brown rice has a lower glycemic index and is digested more slowly, causing a lower change in blood sugar. This helps avoid spikes in blood sugar levels.
A 2006 study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition notes that total sugar released in vitro was 23.7 percent lower in brown rice as compared to milled rice. The effect was partly due to the higher amounts of phytic acid, polyphenols, dietary fiber and oil in brown rice. This makes brown rice more beneficial than white rice for diabetics and hyperglycemic individuals.
Another 2010 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine reports that substitution of whole grains, including brown rice, for white rice may lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Researchers emphasized that most carbohydrate intake should come from whole grains rather than refined grains to help prevent Type 2 diabetes.
4. Protects Against Cancer
A diet that contains brown rice instead of regular white rice is helpful in preventing various cancers, such as colon cancer, breast cancer and leukemia. This beneficial effect is due to the high antioxidant and high fiber content in brown rice.
A 2000 study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention found that brown rice contains compounds with putative cancer chemopreventive properties. Thus, consuming brown rice instead of milled white rice may be advantageous with respect to cancer prevention.
A 2004 study published in the Journal of Nutrition reports that whole grains and vegetables are the most important dietary providers of plant lignans that help protect against breast cancer and other hormone-dependent cancers.
5. Promotes Weight Loss
Switching to brown rice from white rice can even help you maintain a healthy body weight.
The fiber content of brown rice keeps you feeling full, which means less snacking on unhealthy foods. As brown rice keeps things moving in the digestive tract, it further promotes weight loss and metabolic function.
Plus, this rice contains manganese that helps synthesize body fats.
A 2008 study published in Nutrition Research found that meal replacement with mixed rice, such as brown or black rice, is more effective than white rice in weight control, while improving antioxidant enzyme activity in obese women.
6. Boosts Immunity
Brown rice is loaded with a significant amount of vitamins, minerals and phenolic components that are essential for strong immunity. A strong immune system accelerates healing and enhances the body’s ability to fight infections.
Plus, the antioxidant property of brown rice helps fight free-radical damage that causes diseases and accelerates the aging process.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that adults ages 19 to 50 and those 51 and older who consumed a mean of 0.63 and 0.77 servings of whole grains per day, respectively, were found to have higher diet quality and intake of energy, fiber and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Plus, intake of all micronutrients, except vitamin B12 and sodium, was higher among individuals who consumed the most servings of whole grains.
Higher diet quality also plays a key role in keeping your immunity strong and healthy.
7. Keeps Bones Healthy
Eating brown rice even helps ensure strong and healthy bones. This benefit is mainly attributed to its magnesium content. Just one cup of brown rice contains 21 percent of the recommended daily value of magnesium.
Magnesium is a key nutrient, along with calcium and vitamin D, needed for healthy and strong bones. Magnesium is necessary to convert vitamin D into its active form so that it help in calcium absorption. Hence, this mineral aids in building bones and preventing bone demineralization.
In fact, magnesium deficiency has been associated with low bone density and development of arthritis and osteoporosis later in life.
A 2013 study published in Nutrients reports that optimizing magnesium intake might represent an effective and low-cost preventive measure against osteoporosis in individuals with magnesium deficiency.
8. Supports Healthy Bowel Function
Brown rice contains insoluble fiber, which is well-known for its digestive benefits. Fiber helps keep bowel movements regular by helping move bulk through the intestines more easily. As digestion becomes easy, intake of brown rice even reduces constipation as well as hemorrhoids.
Brown rice also contains a good amount of manganese that helps digest fats.
Furthermore, brown rice is naturally gluten-free, which makes it a popular staple of gluten-free diets.
When eating fiber-rich brown rice, make sure to also drink plenty of water to help the fiber do its job.
9. Maintains a Healthy Nervous System
Brown rice contains a high level of the nutrient manganese, a mineral needed to produce fatty acids and hormones necessary for a healthy nervous system. Also, magnesium balances the activity of calcium in the body for regulation of nerves and muscle tone. This is important for preventing muscle contraction.
Plus, the B vitamins in it ensure smooth functioning of the brain and nervous system by accelerating the metabolism in the brain.
Also, the potassium and calcium play a role in keeping the nerves and muscle cells healthy.
Even the vitamin E in brown rice is linked to prevention of several brain diseases caused by oxidative damage.
10. Perfect Baby Food
Being a powerhouse of natural nutrition and fiber, brown rice is one of the healthiest foods for babies. It helps in rapid growth of your baby. Its rich fiber content ensures smooth bowel functioning and prevents infant constipation.
Plus, there are less chances of allergy.
You can offer ground and cooked brown rice porridge or infant cereal to babies older than 6 months.
- Wash 1 cup of brown rice thoroughly.
- Put it in a non-stick pan and dry roast for 5 to 7 minutes, until the rice gets a little puffed up and turns brown. Make sure you keep stirring the rice in between.
- Allow it to cool and then grind it in a blender for a couple of minutes to get a fine powder.
- Heat 1 heaping teaspoon of this powder and some water in a pan until you get the desired consistency.
- Serve this homemade brown rice cereal to your baby.
Store the rest of the powder in an airtight container for future use.
- Do not buy brown rice in bulk. Its natural oil has the potential to go stale if stored for too long.
- Always check the expiration date before purchasing brown rice to ensure freshness.
- Raw brown rice can be stored in an airtight container for up to six months at room temperature.
- Do not keep cooked brown rice for long, and do not reheat brown rice more than once.
- Remember that brown rice, due to its outer fiber coating, takes longer to cook and requires more water than white rice.