9 Health Benefits of Brown Rice According to Science (+5 Brown Rice Recipes)
Rice conjures up different images for different people. Some may think of a nice white rice ball steaming next to a set of chopsticks. Others might picture the long black and brown grains of wild rice, and the infuriating amount time it takes to cook them. Still, yet, others might think of the short brown grains of unpolished white rice.
There are many, many kinds of rice available for purchase all around the world. Since rice can be cultivated in a huge amount of places, it is available year round and you don’t have to worry about purchasing seasonally. However, you might want to worry about what kind of rice you choose to purchase. In this article, we’ll be discussing rice varieties based on the grain typically purchased in western grocery stores.
White rice is the most commonly seen variety. It has been stripped of most of its nutrients. During the processing of white rice, the whole grain of rice has several layers stripped.
- The bran, which is the outermost layer of a grain of whole rice. The bran is mostly inedible, and its removal is the least damaging to the nutritional content of rice.
- The germ, a layer that is very dense in nutrients.
- The bran, another layer that is removed, often at the same time as the germ.
- The aleurone layer, which is the final layer removed before you see the finished product of white rice that is so commonly consumed. This layer contains many healthy fats and is one of the most beneficial parts of a grain of rice.
Rice that has been stripped of all these layers is simply a shadow of its prior nutritional value, losing much of the vitamins and minerals present in whole grain and brown rice. Ironically, white rice is typically sold as ‘enriched’ rice, because the end product is so nutritionally devoid that manufacturers have to add vitamins and minerals to it so it maintains at least some of its original nutrition.
- Brown rice is what we will be referring to as the nutritional source for most of this article. Brown rice is sometimes referred to as whole grain rice, which isn’t entirely true. Typically, brown rice only has the hull removed, leaving quite a few nutrients left for us to absorb. There is another variety of further refined rice that has the germ and the bran removed, without removal of the aleurone. There is sometimes confusion as to whether this type of rice should be called white or brown. For this article, brown rice will refer to rice with only the hull removed.
- Red, gold, black, and purple rice are all other varieties of ‘whole grain’ rice that notably have a different pigment color than our standard brown rice. All have different flavors and slightly different nutritional profiles. These types of rice are in the same state of production as our brown rice would be.
Health Benefits of Brown Rice
Now that we’ve established the different kinds of rice, we can begin to delve into the potential benefits of eating such a food. Rice is well-known for being a good source of energy – since it’s high in carbs – but typically, these are eaten as ‘empty carbs’ in the form of white rice. An empty carb or empty calorie is a food that offers high carbohydrate or calorie content with minimal nutrition.
Often available right next to white rice is the super-nutritional, extra-tasty brown rice. Many people are unaware of the tremendous benefits that unprocessed rice can have for your health. Don’t let that hinder you, though – brown rice has been studied for dozens of health-promoting things, from curing heart disease to helping you think better. We will explain the most prominent benefits of brown rice.
1. Brown rice has lots of vitamins and minerals
Brown rice is naturally packed full of nutrients – more so, in fact, than white rice after it’s been ‘enriched.’ It’s a great source for a varied number of minerals, which can be difficult to obtain in a diet that doesn’t include whole grains. Here are some of the more prominent vitamins and minerals you can obtain from a cup of brown rice.
- Vitamin B1 – 16 percent of your daily recommended intake (D.R.I.)Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, helps your body metabolize carbs into energy. It also helps your brain function more efficiently.
- Vitamin B3 – 19 percent of your D.R.I.Like other B vitamins, vitamin B3 helps your body produce energy. It’s also an antioxidant that works to fight free radicals.
- Vitamin B6 – 16 percent of your D.R.I.Along with aiding energy production, vitamin B6 helps your body produce red blood cells which are crucial for fighting infections.
- Pantothenic Acid – 11 percent of your D.R.I.Pantothenic acid helps your body produce Coenzyme A, which is one of the most important molecules in the development of organic life. It’s central for many of your bodily functions, like metabolizing fats, carbs, and proteins.
- Copper – 21 percent of your D.R.I.Copper is a mineral that helps your boy’s bones and tissues develop properly. It’s also a vital unit that ensures your body can produce and use antioxidants effectively.
- Manganese – 88 percent of your D.R.I.Manganese is a nutrient that’s very important for the production of strong, healthy bones. It’s also utilized by the body to maintain your skin’s integrity, adding to a clear complexion and strong, elastic skin.
- Magnesium – 21 percent of your D.R.I.Magnesium is fairly well-known for helping the body’s bones gain strength and structure. On top of that, it also helps your body produce effective energy.
- Phosphorous – 23 percent of your D.R.I.Phosphorous is key for ensuring that the cells in your body can effectively communicate with each other, preventing degenerative diseases of tissues and organs. It’s also used with manganese and magnesium to ensure healthy bones.
- Selenium – 35 percent of your D.R.I.Selenium helps your body produce glutathione. Glutathione is often reputed to be one of the most important antioxidants for the survival of the human being. It’s produced naturally by our body, and selenium is one of the nutrients that makes sure we can reliably produce it.
- Zinc – 11 percent of your D.R.I.Zinc functions similarly to copper, aiding in the production of healthy bones. Since zinc and copper are so similar, it’s a good idea to maintain a healthy balance of both of these minerals.
Conclusion: It’s clear that brown rice has a huge assortment of important minerals and vitamins that your body can use. Adding this staple to your diet plan could clear up a number of potential vitamin deficiencies!
2. Brown rice contains oil that lowers cholesterol
Lightly processed brown rice – the variety that still has its aleurone layer intact – contains some healthy fats. These particular fatty oils are known to reduce LDL cholesterol.
There are two types of cholesterol – LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is known as the ‘bad’ type of cholesterol – low-density lipoprotein.
- LDL cholesterol is highly reactive and oxidizes easily. It can clump up in the endothelium (the inner walls of your arteries) leading to hardened arteries or can cause free radicals to develop which can lead to cancer.
- HDL cholesterol is the good type. HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein. This cholesterol, being denser, can effectively ‘sweep’ LDL cholesterol out of the bloodstream.
Louisiana State University studied rice oils and their effects on cholesterol. 26 volunteers ate a diet with a monitored level of fiber. After a few weeks, half of the subjects switched their diet and added rice bran, effectively doubling their fiber intake. Fourteen subjects ate a diet with regular consumption of rice bran oil.
The group consuming rice bran oil lowered LDL cholesterol by up to 7%. Brown rice also contains healthy amounts of fiber, magnesium, and several B vitamins – all of which are known to help improve cardiovascular health and could contribute to lowered cholesterol.
Conclusion: Those looking to limit the amounts of cholesterol in their bodies might want to use brown rice as a staple. It contains some healthy oils that, when eaten regularly, can reduce cholesterol. It also has a number of other heart-healthy minerals and vitamins.
3. Brown rice can improve your cardiovascular health
Brown rice has been studied for its effects on improving cardiovascular health. This means that the bloodstream and all related organs and systems – so, basically, everything in your body – will grow stronger.
Its effects are particularly noted in women. A study done on around 200 postmenopausal women proved that regular consumption of whole grains, including brown rice, made notable improvements in several areas.
- Atherosclerosis – the hardening of arteries, caused by a buildup of plaque that can be left by cholesterol – is less likely to develop. Atherosclerosis can prove to be fatal since it obstructs the flow of blood and oxygen to and from the heart.
- Stenosis – narrow arteries that hinder blood flow and transport of nutrients – progresses much slower in those who consume whole grains on the regular.
Conclusion: There are a number of cardiovascular-related illnesses that brown rice and whole grains can work to prevent. Adding them to their diet will strengthen the health of your heart and bloodstream.
4. Brown rice is jam-packed full of phytonutrients
Phytonutrients are plant-based nutrients, and brown rice is full of them. Their importance has only been recently realized since the more commonly studied vitamins and nutrients overshadowed their benefits.
- Phenolics are strong antioxidants that fight disease in different ways. This includes compounds like quercetin and curcumin, which have grown wildly popular for their health promoting activities. Catechins are also considered to be phenolics and comprise an entire category of nutrients on their own.
- Lignans are nutrients present in many plants. Lignans are consumed by the bacteria in our intestines. Here, they are converted into mammalian lignans, which fight against cancer and heart disease.
Conclusion: Brown rice has many phytonutrients that work to fight off different diseases. Phytonutrients are plant-based nutrients that can only be obtained through plant material, so brown rice is a good option for those seeking particular benefits. To continue reading this article click HERE.