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8 reasons why you should eat brown rice

In the world today, more and more people are opting for healthy choices when it comes to what they eat. Many people are starting to move away from refined carbohydrates which were once considered a delicacy. The fact of the matter is that foods in their natural form are more nutritious and therefore more beneficial to our health. Brown rice is one such healthy whole foods that is gaining popularity all over the globe.

Why should you go brown?

Brown rice has many (almost immeasurable) benefits for our health. As a whole grain it contains lots of fiber which, on its own, has very many benefits for our bodies. Brown rice is made up of bran, germ and endosperm and all three of these components have many benefits for our health. Milling is the process through which brown rice is differentiated from white rice. Through this process, many beneficial nutrients are lost and all that is left is the endosperm.

Bran contains most of the minerals and the germ is rich in minerals, antioxidants, unsaturated fats and phytochemicals. During polishing we lose 15% protein, 85% fat, 90% calcium, 80% thiamine, 75% phosphorus, 70% riboflavin and 68% niacin. Therefore it is clear that by discarding the bran of the rice, we lose nutrients that our bodies could, otherwise, have used in a beneficial way.

In 1897, it was found that when eating rice that has been milled (white rice) people became more susceptible to acquiring “beri-beri” which a deficiency disease that is potentially fatal and it is caused by too little thiamin (vitamin B1) in the diet. Since this finding, white rice has been enriched with vitamins in many parts of the world. The only drawback is that these vitamins are reduced when we wash the rice before cooking it. [1][2]

The health benefits of brown rice

Let’s have a look at some of the benefits of brown rice. [1][2]

1. Protects against heart disease: Whole grains, like brown rice, contain nutrients called Lignans which are converted into mammalian Lignans by the friendly bacteria in our intestines and one such an example is enterolactone which may help to protect us from heart disease.

2. Lowers the risk for type 2 diabetes: It has been suggested that brown rice holds benefits for hyperglycemic people and those who suffer from type 2 diabetes.

3. Beneficial for nerves and muscles: Magnesium balances the actions of calcium and therefore helps with the regulation of muscle and nerve tone. By doing this, it ensures that our nerves and muscles become more relaxed. Brown rice is a good source of magnesium which has been connected to lowering blood pressure, lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke, decreasing the frequency of migraine headache and reducing the severity of asthma.

4. Helps prevent gallstones: By eating foods that are high in insoluble fiber, like brown rice, the risk of getting gallstones is considerably reduced. [3]

5. Helps increase energy levels: Brown rice is rich in manganese which is a vital component of superoxide dismutase, an important antioxidant enzyme that helps to protect the body against free radical damage. It is found in the mitochondria of our cells where it helps to protect against the damage resulting from the production of energy.

6. Supports the prevention of atherosclerosis: Brown rice supplies niacin and may also help to raise the levels of nitric oxide in our blood. Nitric oxide is known to enhance blood vessel dilation and therefore it may play a role in the prevention of the development of atherosclerotic plaques. [4]

Girl Holding Sore Stomach7. Relieves constipation: Magnesium and the fiber contained in brown rice may provide relief from constipation as these can help assist normal bowel function.

8. Assists Weight Loss: Brown rice assists the body in losing weight, because it stays in the stomach for longer time periods than other foods and it is therefore digested slower which makes you feel fuller for longer. As an added benefit, fiber moves fat through the digestive system at a greater speed to make sure that less fat is absorbed. Brown rice is also suggested to control blood sugar levels and this may help you lose weight.

Change over to brown rice today

Brown rice is starting to appear in diets all over the world, increasingly more so these days. There is no question: brown rice is vital to our health and we should all consider adding this nutritious whole grain to our diets and substituting it to other refined carbohydrates.

References:

  1. Babu PD, Subhasree RS, Bhakyaraj R, Vidhyalakshmi R. Brown Rice-Beyond the Color Reviving a Lost Health Food – A Review. American-Eurasian Journal of Agronomy 2009; vol. 2(2): 67-72.
  2. Vetha varshini et al. Brown rice hidden nutrients. J Biosci Tech. 2013; vol. 4(1), 503-507.
  3. Tsai CJ, Leitzman MF, Willett WC, Giovannucci EL. Long term intake of dietary fiber and decreased risk of cholecystectomy in women. Am J Gastroenterol. 2004; vol. 99(7): 1364-70.
  4. Panlasigui LN, Thompson LU. High value-added and specialty rice production in glucose lowering effects of brown rice in normal and diabetic subjects. Intl J Food Sci Nutr. 2006; vol. 57(3-4): 151-8.

About Mariska ten Dam

Mariska ten Dam is a health care expert who specialises in Holistic Health. She is a qualified Natural Health Practitioner and a Health and Wellness Writer.

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