Brown rice or also known as ‘hulled rice‘ is the least processed form of rice. It has only the outermost layer or hull removed, but still retains its outer, brown-colored bran layer that gives it a light brown color, nutty flavor, and chewy texture. Since brown rice has the brain intact, it’s more nutritious but takes longer to cook than white rice.
As with white rice, brown rice is available in three varieties; short, medium, and long grain varieties. The most popular is long grain rice because it remains firm, fluffy and separate when cooked. While short or medium grain tends to be more starchy and becomes quite tender when cooked.
Brown rice is a whole grain food that provides many essential nutrients, including B vitamins, phosphorus, selenium, manganese, potassium, and magnesium. It is an excellent source of dietary fiber and phyto-nutrients that provide protective health benefits, including weight maintenance.
Health Benefits of Brown Rice
- Protect against colon cancer
Brown rice contains selenium which has been shown to reduce the likelihood of colon cancer. The high amount of fiber in the rice accelerates the transit of cancer-causing chemicals in the gastrointestinal tract, and thus can help protect against colon cancer.
- Reduces breast cancer risk
The phytonutrient lignan in brown rice helps in defending against breast cancer and heart disease. A study on elderly women proved that eating whole grain foods such as brown rice increases the levels of enterolactone, which have been reported to be associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer.
- Lowers cholesterol
The oil that is available in the bran of brown rice is known to lower cholesterol. Brown rice also has fiber which helps to reduce LDL cholesterol.
- Prevent heart disease
Being high in fiber, brown rice helps reduce the risk of heart disease. Researchers at Temple University have found that eating brown rice can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of plaque build-up in the arteries, thereby helping to prevent the developing of heart disease.
- Maintain a normal body weight
Since brown rice is high in fiber, it can control the amount of calories intake and make you feel full longer, thereby reducing your chance of over-eating. A study conducted by Harvard researchers shows that women who ate a diet rich in fiber like brown rice were more likely to maintain a normal body weight.
- Prevent constipation
Due to its high fiber content, brown rice is very beneficial for the digestive system. It promotes healthy bowel movements, thereby helping to prevent constipation.
- Control blood sugar
The fiber present in brown rice is also helpful in the management of type 2 diabetes by regulating blood sugar levels.
- Promote bone health
Brown rice is a great source of magnesium, which is essential to maintain healthy bones. One cup of brown rice provides nearly 21% of the recommended daily intake of magnesium. Magnesium is also required for absorption of calcium, another essential nutrient for bone health.
- Reduces asthma symptoms
As brown rice is rich in magnesium, it helps reduces the symptoms of asthma. Several studies have reported that the magnesium in brown rice can help to reduce the severity of asthma symptoms on the sufferers. The selenium content in brown rice is also beneficial against the asthma.
- Reduces the risk of gallstones
According to a study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, foods high in insouluble fiber such as brown rice can helps reduce the risk of gallstones in women.
- Maintain a healthy nervous system
Brown rice is rich in manganese which is necessary for a healthy nervous system. The nutrient also aids in the production of sex hormones by synthesizing fatty acids and producing cholesterol.
The Dietary Guidelines recommend 3 servings of whole grains per day. Each 1/2 cup of cooked brown rice equals one of those three servings, so eating brown rice is a good way to meet your daily’s nutritional requirements.