Rice is a staple food in many countries. It goes well with cuisines from different parts of the world. However, most prefer to have white rice, which is not considered healthy. The milling process strips away most of the nutritional value of white rice, but this does not mean you have to give up rice. Simply switch to brown rice for a healthier option.
1. Improves Cardiovascular Health
Brown rice is highly beneficial for a healthy heart. Its fiber content helps reduce blockage in the arteries due to plaque buildup.
A 2005 study published in the American Heart Journal reports that higher intake of cereal fiber and whole-grain products is associated with less progression of coronary atherosclerosis in postmenopausal women with established coronary artery disease.Another 2014 study published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests that brown rice replacement in the diet may be useful to decrease the inflammatory marker level and several cardiovascular risk factors among non-menopausal overweight or obese females.
In a recent 2016 study published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, researchers concluded that the intake of whole grains is considered to have significant benefits in preventing chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, because of the contribution of phenolic compounds.
2. Lowers Bad Cholesterol
Brown rice is an excellent source of soluble fiber, which helps lower the level of ‘bad’ low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood.
The oil in brown rice also has been shown to lower levels of LDL cholesterol.A 2005 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that rice bran oil, not fiber, lowers cholesterol in healthy, moderately hyper-cholesterolemic adults. The reduction of cholesterol was due to other components present in the rice bran oil, such as unsaponifiable compounds.
This rice also possesses hypo-cholesterolemic qualities and regulates cholesterol catabolism. A 2014 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that insulin resistance, total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol levels were reduced after consumption of brown rice. This benefit is partly due to lowering of the glycemic response with consumption of brown rice.
At the same time, a diet high in whole grains like brown rice can increase the level of high-density lipoproteins (HDL), or the good cholesterol, in your body.
3. Reduces Diabetes Risk
Brown rice has a lower glycemic index and is digested more slowly, causing a lower change in blood sugar. This helps avoid spikes in blood sugar levels.
A 2006 study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition notes that total sugar released in vitro was 23.7 percent lower in brown rice as compared to milled rice. The effect was partly due to the higher amounts of phytic acid, polyphenols, dietary fiber and oil in brown rice. This makes brown rice more beneficial than white rice for diabetics and hyperglycemic individuals.
Another 2010 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine reports that substitution of whole grains, including brown rice, for white rice may lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Researchers emphasized that most carbohydrate intake should come from whole grains rather than refined grains to help prevent Type 2 diabetes.
4. Protects Against Cancer
A diet that contains brown rice instead of regular white rice is helpful in preventing various cancers, such as colon cancer, breast cancer and leukemia. This beneficial effect is due to the high antioxidant and high fiber content in brown rice.
A 2000 study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention found that brown rice contains compounds with putative cancer chemopreventive properties. Thus, consuming brown rice instead of milled white rice may be advantageous with respect to cancer prevention.
A 2004 study published in the Journal of Nutrition reports that whole grains and vegetables are the most important dietary providers of plant lignans that help protect against breast cancer and other hormone-dependent cancers.
5. Promotes Weight Loss
Switching to brown rice from white rice can even help you maintain a healthy body weight.
The fiber content of brown rice keeps you feeling full, which means less snacking on unhealthy foods. As brown rice keeps things moving in the digestive tract, it further promotes weight loss and metabolic function.
Plus, this rice contains manganese that helps synthesize body fats.
A 2008 study published in Nutrition Research found that meal replacement with mixed rice, such as brown or black rice, is more effective than white rice in weight control, while improving antioxidant enzyme activity in obese women.
6. Boosts Immunity
Brown rice is loaded with a significant amount of vitamins, minerals and phenolic components that are essential for strong immunity. A strong immune system accelerates healing and enhances the body’s ability to fight infections.
Plus, the antioxidant property of brown rice helps fight free-radical damage that causes diseases and accelerates the aging process.A 2010 study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that adults ages 19 to 50 and those 51 and older who consumed a mean of 0.63 and 0.77 servings of whole grains per day, respectively, were found to have higher diet quality and intake of energy, fiber and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Plus, intake of all micronutrients, except vitamin B12 and sodium, was higher among individuals who consumed the most servings of whole grains.