Rice-Health Facts

"Rice is the best, the most nutritive and unquestionably the most widespread staple in the world" – Escoffier

Rice, common name for about 19 species of annual herbs, of the grass family. Common rice is the only species of importance to human beings. It is native to south-east Asia and has been cultivated for more than 7,000 years. It thrives in areas of considerable warmth and moisture and reaches a height of about 1m (3 ft), with flowers bearing six stamens and a solitary pistil. The fruit, a grain, is produced on a nodding of the stalk. When the grain is ripe, Rice resembles the oat plant. The white endosperm is enclosed by a layer of bran surrounded by a brown husk.

Rice grains are extensively used as human food; rice constitutes the principal food of half the human race. It is primarily consumed after processing as polished rice. The bran or germ which comprises 10% of whole rice is removed during the polishing process.. White rice, which is rice from which the nutritious bran has been removed, is an inferior food. A diet of white rice causes such deficiency diseases as Beriberi. Recognition of the nutritional value of the rice bran has led to some increase in the consumption of brown rice, which is the rice grain from which the bran has not been removed. Brown rice is a very good source of manganese and also a good source of other minerals like magnesium and selenium. Almost 11 nutrients are lost during the processing of white rice. Process to get polished white rice from brown rice destroys 80% thiamin, 67% niacin, 90% vitamin B6, 60% iron, half of phosphorous and manganese and all of essential fatty acids and dietary fiber. According to law in United States fully processed polished white rice should be enriched with thiamin, niacin and iron, however this enrichment cannot replace the loss of around 11 nutrients and are not the same as found in the original version. Brown rice is unpolished rice; i.e., the bran layer of the grain is not removed through polishing as is done with white rice. Thus, it is more nutritious than polished rice and is becoming popular among health conscious people.Modern researches have confirmed the beliefs of ancient oriental folk physicians that eating brown rice is a source of serenity and tranquility. It has been shown to contain all the elements need for the maintenance of good health.

Rice contains mostly “Starch” as high as 72% on w/w basis. Due to the high starch content, it is the most favoured “raw material” for alcoholic beverages since centuries in different parts of the world.Different varieties of Rice has different aromatic component in it, which becomes the main source of wine making & produces wine with specific aroma & name. It is “Sake” in Japan & “Tanimura” in Philippines. “Vodka” the famous drink of “Russia” is made from rice as well.

Apart from wine, rice can be good source for other alcoholic beverages, Now with depleting “Crude Petroleum” reserves world over, “Ethanol” is seen as alternative fuel & rice can be best source. The changed dietary habits of the new generation has appeared to increase the risk of coronary heart disease and heart attacks especially in over – weight people. Common features of a metabolic syndrome include visceral obesity (the “apple shaped” body), low levels of protective HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, and high blood pressure.

Lately realizing this Govt. of India has put this industry under “Ministry of Food Processing” to specially focus on to increase its consumption as food.

Benefits

The health benefits of rice include its ability to provide fast and instant energy, regulate and improve bowel movements, stabilize blood sugar levels, and slow down the aging process, while also providing an essential source of vitamin B1 to the human body. Other benefits include its ability to boost skin health, increase the metabolism, aid in digestion, reduce high blood pressure, help weight loss efforts, improve the immune system and provide protection against dysentery, cancer, and heart disease. Rice is a fundamental food in many cultural cuisines around the world, and it is an important cereal crop that feeds more than half of the world’s population.

The various benefits of rice can be found in more than forty thousand varieties of this cereal that is available throughout the world. The two main categories are whole grain rice and white rice. Whole grain rice is not processed very much, so it is high in nutritional value, whereas white rice is processed so that the bran or outer covering is removed, leaving it with less nutritional value. People choose different styles of rice for particular flavors, depending on their culinary needs, the availability, and the potential for healthy benefits as well!

Rice can also be defined by the length of each grain. Indian or Chinese cuisines specialize in long grained rice, whereas western countries prefer short or medium length grains.

Medical Importance

Rice bran is an important source of rice oil and other phyto chemicals which possess anti oxidative and disease fighting properties. Traditionally, rice-bran products have found applications in agricultural, food and cosmetic industries. Now, medicinal research has unraveled scientific evidence supporting a role for key components of rice in health maintenance and disease prevention.

The Last Word on Rice

Rice can also prevent chronic constipation. The insoluble fiber from rice acts like a soft sponge that may be pushed through the intestinal tract quickly and easily. Brown rice and whole grains are known to be rich in insoluble fiber. However, it is advisable to drink lots of water for relieving your constipated condition, in addition to eating fibrous foods.

Diabetic patients should include brown rice rather than white rice, which contains low levels of glycemic index. As little as one cup of brown rice on a daily basis provides a person with almost 100% of their daily manganese requirement, which helps to produce energy from carbohydrates and protein. Brown rice is also extremely beneficial for normal functioning of the nervous system and the production of sex hormones.