Whole grains have long been touted as an important part of a healthy diet. One of the most nutritious grains out there is brown rice.
Brown rice is essentially similar to white rice. The process that produces brown rice removes just the outer layer of the rice kernel, thus helping to preserve most of its nutritional value.
White rice, on the other hand, is milled and polished to give its far more appealing bleached appearance. However, this process strips away 90% of the vitamin B6, 80% of the vitamin Bl, 67% of the vitamin B3, 60% of the iron, nearly half of the manganese and phosphorous, and nearly all of the fatty acids and dietary fiber.
Clearly, brown rice is the more nutritious choice of the two. And here are 10 more reasons how brown rice can be beneficial to your health.
High in Manganese
Brown rice has minerals such as manganese, a trace mineral that is found in our body in small amounts. It is essential in the formation of connective tissue, blood clotting factors, bones, and sex hormones. Manganese also plays a role in the synthesis of fatty acids, which is essential for normal nerve and brain function.
Manganese is an enzyme activator and plays a role in gluconeogenesis. gluconeogenesis is a process in which enzymes in the body convert substances such as organic acids and amino acids into sugar. It is also important in the maintenance of good blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
In addition, manganese helps in the absorption and utilization of other nutrients, such as thiamine, ascorbic acid, biotin and the B-complex vitamin choline.
A one cup serving of cooked brown rice provides 88% of the daily recommended dietary intake for manganese.
High in Selenium
Selenium is another essential mineral that is abundantly found in brown rice. A one cup serving of cooked brown rice provides about 35% of the daily recommended dietary intake for selenium.
Like manganese, selenium is found in small amounts in the body and functions like an antioxidant, particularly when combined with vitamin E.Antioxidants help fight the damaging effects of free radicals. Free radicals contribute to ageing and have long been associated with several chronic illnesses, including cancer and heart disease.
Selenium is also essential in the maintenance of proper thyroid function, the body’s immune response and cancer prevention. Selenium is assimilated at the active site of many proteins, including glutathione peroxidase.
Cancer research on animal models also showed that selenium induces DNA repair and synthesis in damaged cells, inhibits the spread of cancer cells and induces their apoptosis or the body’s self-destruct system used to eliminate damaged or abnormal cells.
Excellent Fiber Source
A one cup serving of cooked brown rice provides about 3.51 grams of fiber or 14% of the recommended daily intake for fiber. Fiber is an important nutrient that protects against colon and breast cancer by latching onto chemicals that causes cancer and stirring them away from those areas.
Aside from cancer prevention, fiber is well documented to have numerous cardiovascular benefits, including improved blood cholesterol levels, blood pressure reduction and reduced risk for atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.
Fiber also helps in the regulation of blood sugar levels and in the maintenance of good digestive healthby promoting the optimum passage of food through the digestive tract.
Weight loss and Control
Foods rich in dietary fiber tend to make you feel fuller, thus helping in reduced food intake. Another study conducted at the Harvard Medical School showed that women who incorporated high-fiber, whole grain foods in their diet consistently weigh less than the women who ate less fiber-rich foods. Women who consume more fiber-rich foods were also 49% less likely to gain weight compared to women that eat less whole grain foods.
Lowered Type II Diabetes Risk
Aside from its fiber-rich content that helps in the slow and controlled release of sugar into the blood stream, the high magnesium content in brown rice also helps in blood sugar control by improving sensitivity to insulin. Medical researchers from the Mexican Social Security Institute investigated the effect of magnesium on subjects with type 2 diabetes by providing them with oral magnesium supplements for 16 weeks. At the end of the study, people who received magnesium supplements have improved blood glucose levels than the people who hadn’t received magnesium supplements.
Another study involving 41,186 participants of the Black Women’s Health study showed that women who regularly consumed whole grain foods had a 31% lower risk for developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who ate less of these foods.
Magnesium also plays a vital role in your bone health. About two-thirds of the magnesium in the body is found on or in bones. Some of it is used to give the bones their physical structure, while the rest is deposited on the surface of the bones so the body could draw up on it when needed.