Hulled, whole, natural grain rice is what people usually call brown rice. Although eating brown rice used to be associated with poverty especially in Asia, it is now more likely to be a healthy choice in trying to lower cholesterol and achieve good health.
Benefits of Eating Brown Rice
Brown rice has a nutty flavor and a chewy consistency which may or may not appeal to many. However, as a health food, it is superior to white rice. Here are the benefits of eating brown rice:
- It lowers cholesterol levels. Brown rice retains its bran layer which contains healthy type of fat – the rice bran oil. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that a diet that contains rice bran oil can lower LDL levels in people with high cholesterol.
LDL or low density lipoproteins are also called bad cholesterol because they are the type of fats that can lead to heart disease. High LDL cholesterol levels can cause the hardening of arteries that supply blood to the heart. With time, blood flow to the heart may be blocked and lead to a heart attack.
- Brown rice is rich in fiber content. Being unpolished, brown rice retains most of its fiber and nutrients compared to white rice. A cup of brown rice supplies about 14% of the daily recommended value for fiber. This high fiber content helps lower high blood sugar and cholesterol by reducing the amount absorbed into the bloodstream from the intestines. Aside from this, high fiber content also prevents the development of chronic disease such as diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.
- Weight Reduction. Overweight and obese individuals are sometimes advised to eat brown rice to reduce their weight. Studies show that eating whole grains is associated with maintaining a healthy weight compared to that of consuming refined grains. This is important in avoiding obesity and preventing chronic disease.
- Brown rice retains many important nutrients. Unpolished rice retains many nutrients that are otherwise removed from refined or polished rice. These nutrients include B vitamins, selenium, magnesium and phytonutrients. This is why people who eat white rice and other refined grains are often advised to buy products that are fortified with these lost nutrients.
B-vitamins as well as magnesium and selenium are important in many body functions. Phytonutrients are plant-derived antioxidants that help prevent free radicals from causing destruction or death to cells. These help in the prevention of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
How to Prepare Brown Rice
Brown rice may be bought as prepackaged products as well from bulk containers in the market or grocery. If purchasing packaged rice, check the expiry date on the package because brown rice has the tendency to become rancid when kept too long.
It is easy to cook brown rice – just rinse very well and cook in water at a ratio of 1:2. When the water boils, turn down the heat and cover. Simmer for another 45 minutes or until cooked. For a lighter and fluffier texture, soak basmati rice (a type of brown rice) in cool water before cooking. You may stir frequently and replace the water a few times so that the water no longer appears cloudy or milky.
Other Ways to Enjoy Brown Rice
There are other ways to serve brown rice:
- Make a delicious pudding by adding low fat milk or soy milk, cinnamon and raisins to the cooked rice and heat until thick.
- Prepare homemade sushi rolls by wrapping cooked rice and your some vegetables in some sheets of well-moistened seaweeds called nori.
- Make a salad with cooked rice and vegetables, tofu and slices of chicken.
- Top the rice with healthy foods like sautéed mushrooms, sesame, seed and nuts.
- Chop some vegetables, mix with rice, then, and place them in pita bread, topped with a light dressing.