February 22, 2012

The Benefits of Brown Rice

I have been meaning to tell my family that we are switching to brown rice. And I finally did last night. My husband was astonished about the sudden transition. The kids were more like confused. They don't exactly know the difference but their colors. We had a little discussion on which ones a healthier and heartier option. And no matter how much I tell him that it prevents chronic illnesses, helps with diabetes and hypertensions (which none of us  have any symptoms yet), he was more worried about the added monthly grocery bill.

Let's face it. Both of us were brought up eating white jasmine rice.  As in every meal, there was never a time brown rice was even considered.  Back in Asia around circa 80's, brown rice tastes like crap. They were used as feeds for chickens. And they were associated with poverty. Who would believe that they cost half the price of white rice back then? Yes, you heard that right. And now they almost cost more than the best long grain white rice. Unbelievable!!  No one ever thought that they're actually more nutritious than the beautiful white rice.  Little did we know that as we mill the rice, we are stripping off its natural nutrients.

From what I've gathered, there is not much of a difference as to the number of calories and carbohydrates between brown and white rice.  The main difference lies in processing and nutritional content.  And that is the reason why I wanted the switch to prepare for our old age.

I have a strong family history for diabetes, and my husband has a strong family history for colorectal cancer and other intestinal diseases. I know to be able to beat these chronic diseases, we have to change our diet drastically. "Break it to me gently" doesn't work. So it has to be "do or die" to be successful.  Just like quitting cigarettes or coffee, right?

Processing Rice
When only the outermost layer (husk) is removed, brown rice is produced.  When the next layers (bran & germ) are removed, leaving mostly the starchy endosperm, the white rice is born.

Nutritional Content
Essential vitamins and dietary minerals are lost upon the removal and polishing process of white rice. Vitamins B1, B3, and iron were discarded.  Thus, enriched with vitamin B and iron fortified rice was produced since it was required by FDA. So we're still getting these with white rice, but the question is it enough?

The only mineral not added back is the amount of magnesium naturally occurring in brown rice. Imagine this: one cup (195 g) of cooked long grain brown rice contains 84 mg of magnesium, while one cup of white rice contains only 19 mg. Also, when the bran layer is removed, the oil in the bran is also removed. It's the bran oil that helps lower LDL Cholesterol. So why risk your health with white rice, when you can eat healthier?

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