Brown rice has numerous properties and nutritional values. Brown rice has antioxidant, anti-diabetic, anti-cancer, neuroprotective and cholesterol-lowering effects. In many respects, it is considered healthier than white type and is commonly associated with a balanced diet.
What is brown rice?
Brown rice is a whole grain composed of all elements – husk, germ and endosperm. This is not a rice variety, such as Basmati or jasmine, but simply full-grain rice for each variety.
Brown rice is not dehulled and polished. It differs from white rice not only in colour but above all in the presence of husk, which is responsible for its additional healthy properties. Brown rice is less processed, harder, it cooks more slowly, it should be chewed longer and digested more slowly.
Compared to white rice, it contains more protein, fat, fibre, minerals, vitamins and bioactive phytochemicals.
It also has a lower glycemic index (IG = 50). Brown rice is a naturally gluten-free cereal. This allows its wide use in products dedicated to people with celiac disease, gluten allergy and gluten intolerance.
Brown rice – health properties
Brown rice has antioxidant properties, as demonstrated in numerous in vivo and animal model studies. Studies in type II diabetic rats have confirmed that consumption of brown rice increases the body’s total antioxidant levels, while white rice does not show this effect.
Also, germinated brown rice protects liver enzymes and blood creatinine. The mechanism of the antioxidant activity of brown rice is probably associated with the regulation of the expression of the superoxide dismutase gene.
Another study in rabbits with hypercholesterolemia showed that enriching the diet with germinated brown rice increases the activity of antioxidant enzymes and vitamin E in the body, and reduces lipid peroxidation. Brown rice also improves the functioning of the immune system.
Brown rice has anti-diabetic potential, as demonstrated by in vivo and in vitro tests. Its addition in a meal prevents a sharp rise in blood glucose after eating compared to meals containing white rice. Also, the insulin response is lower after eating brown rice.
Brown rice products are recommended for the prevention of obesity and type II diabetes, as well as hypertriglyceridemia. Their consumption helps lower blood cholesterol. Studies have also shown that the stomach empties more slowly after eating brown rice compared to eating white rice.
This is conducive to eating smaller portions and weight control. Numerous studies show that a diet rich in whole cereal grains (compared to a diet rich in processed cereal products) facilitates weight loss and helps maintain healthy body weight.
Studies in rats have shown that brown rice has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer potential, especially for colorectal cancers.
The health-promoting effects of brown rice result from the combination of fibre substances, vitamins, minerals, GABA, gamma-oryzanol, phytosterols, polyphenols, tocotrienols and alpha-tocopherol present in it.
It is worth noting that brown rice subjected to germination has a stronger health-promoting effect than uncooked brown rice.
Brown rice can be harmful!
Arsenic is a heavy metal that is found in soil, water and rocks. Occurs in the form of organic and inorganic compounds. Inorganic arsenic is considered toxic.
Its consumption in high doses is fatal, and long-term exposure to arsenic is associated with diseases – high blood pressure, diabetes and respiratory problems. At an early age, arsenic can cause neurological changes and some cancers.
Rice is a cereal that easily accumulates arsenic – 10 times more than other cereals. This is mainly due to the cultivation method, namely that rice is still in the water. Roots easily accumulate arsenic from soil and irrigation water.
The arsenic content in rice differs significantly from the region in which it is grown, which is due to the diverse presence of this metal in the soil. According to FDA reports, the arsenic content of brown rice is high and averaging 154 ppb.
The harmful effects of arsenic in rice are mainly exposed to infants and young children, to whom parents give large amounts of rice products. People who consume brown rice more than 4 times a week should partially exchange it for other whole grains.
The amount of arsenic in brown rice can be reduced by 50% by proper preparation
Presence of phytic acid
Phytic acid is mainly found in cereals, nuts and legumes. It plays the role of phosphorus storage essential for plant growth. Phytic acid is mainly present in the outer layers of cereal grains, so brown rice not dehulled contains much more than white rice.
The content of phytic acid in the dry matter in white rice is from 0.14% to 0.6%, while in brown rice from 0.84% to 0.99%. Phytic acid is an anti-nutritional substance that binds and blocks the absorption of minerals such as iron, calcium, zinc and magnesium.
A prolonged diet based on brown rice can lead to a shortage of these substances. Frequent consumption of brown rice should be avoided by people who have a deficiency in certain mineral compounds.
Indeed, soaking brown rice in water at 45 degrees Celsius for 48 hours removes phytic acid even in 91%, but at the same time causes more than 50% loss of protein, iron and zinc.