The health benefits of rice include its ability to provide fast and instant energy, regulate and improve bowel movements, stabilize blood sugar levels, and slow down the aging process, while also providing an essential source of vitamin B1 to the human body. Other benefits include its ability to boost skin health, increase the metabolism, aid in digestion, reduce high blood pressure, help weight loss efforts, improve the immune system and provide protection against dysentery, cancer, and heart disease. Rice is a fundamental food in many cultural cuisines around the world, and it is an important cereal crop that feeds more than half of the world’s population.
The various benefits can be found in more than forty thousand varieties of this cereal that is available throughout the world. The two main categories are whole grain rice and white rice. Whole grain rice is not processed very much, so it is high in nutritional value, whereas white rice is processed so that the bran or outer covering is removed, leaving it with less nutritional value. People choose different styles of rice for particular flavors, depending on their culinary needs, the availability, and the potential for healthy benefits as well!
It can also be defined by the length of each grain. Indian or Chinese cuisines specialize in long grained rice, whereas western countries prefer short or medium length grains.
Health Benefits of Rice
Some of the health benefits of rice are explained below.
Great Source of Energy: Since rice is abundant in carbohydrates, it acts as fuel for the body and aids in the normal functioning of the brain. Carbohydrates are essential to be metabolized by the body and turned into functional, usable energy. The vitamins, minerals, and various organic components increase the functioning and metabolic activity of all your organ systems, which further increases energy levels.
Cholesterol Free: Eating rice is extremely beneficial for your health, simply because it does not contain harmful fats, cholesterol or sodium. It forms an integral part of balanced diet. Any food that can provide nutrients without having any negative impacts on health is a bonus! Low levels of fat, cholesterol, and sodium will also help reduce obesity and the health conditions associated with being overweight. It is one of the most widely used and eaten foods in the world because it can keep people healthy and alive, even in very small quantities.
Blood Pressure Management: Rice is low in sodium, so it is considered one of the best foods for those suffering from high blood pressure and hypertension. Sodium can cause veins and arteries to constrict, increasing the stress and strain on the cardiovascular system as the blood pressure increases. This is also associated with heart conditions like atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes, so avoiding excess sodium is always a good idea.
Cancer Prevention: Whole grain rice like brown rice is rich in insoluble fiber that can protect against many types of cancer. Many scientists and researchers believe that such insoluble fibers are vital for protecting the body against the development and metastasis of cancerous cells. Fiber, specifically is beneficial in defending against colorectal and intestinal cancer. However, besides fiber, it also has natural antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin-A, phenolic and flavonoid compounds, which also act as or stimulate antioxidants to scour the body for free radicals. Free radicals are byproducts of cellular metabolism that can do serious damage to your organ systems and cause the mutation of healthy cells into cancerous ones. Boosting your antioxidant levels is a great idea, and eating more rice is a wonderful way to do that.
Skin care: Medical experts say that powdered rice can be applied topically to cure certain skin ailments. On the Indian subcontinent, rice water is readily prescribed by ayurvedic practitioners as an effective ointment to cool off inflamed skin surfaces. The phenolic compounds that are found in it, particularly in brown or wild rice, have anti-inflammatory properties, so they are also good for soothing irritation and redness. Whether consumed or topically applied, substance derived from rice tend to relieve a number of skin conditions. The antioxidant capacity also helps delay the appearance of wrinkles and other premature signs of aging that can affect the skin.
Alzheimer’s Disease: Brown rice is said to contain high levels of nutrients that stimulate the growth and activity of neurotransmitters, subsequently helping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease to a considerable extent. Various species of wild rice have been shown to stimulate neuroprotective enzymes in the brain, which inhibit the effects of free radicals and other dangerous toxins that can cause dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Diuretic and Digestive Qualities: The husk part of rice is considered to be an effective medicine to treat dysentery, and some people say that a three month old rice plant’s husks are said to have diuretic properties. Chinese people believe that rice considerably increases appetite, cures stomach ailments and reduces all digestive problems. As a diuretic, rice husk can help you lose excess water weight, eliminate toxins from the body like uric acid, and even lose weight, since approximately 4% of urine is actually made up of body fat! The high fiber content also increases bowel movement regularity and protects against various types of cancer, as well as reducing the chances of cardiovascular diseases.
Rich in Vitamins: An excellent source of vitamins and minerals like niacin, vitamin D, calcium, fiber, iron, thiamine and riboflavin. These vitamins provide the foundation for body metabolism, immune system health, and general functioning of the organ systems, since vitamins are commonly consumed in the most essential activities in the body.
Cardiovascular Health: Rice bran oil is known to have antioxidant properties that promote cardiovascular strength by reducing cholesterol levels in the body. We have already spoken about the cardiovascular benefits of fiber, and low levels of fat and sodium. Wild rice and brown rice varieties are far better than white rice in this category, since the husk of the grain is where much of the nutrients are; the husk is removed in white rice preparation.
Resistant starch: Rice abounds in resistant starch, which reaches the bowels in an undigested form. This type of starch stimulates the growth of useful bacteria that help with normal bowel movements. Also, this insoluble rice is very useful in reducing the effects of conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and diarrhea.
According to the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, the nutritional value of rice needs to be improved even more so that it benefits mankind. It, being the most dominant cereal crop in most of the world can improve the lives of millions of people who consume it.
Efforts are currently being made to increase the micro-nutrient value of rice by combining traditional methods of growing crops with modern bio-technology. The institute further states that the development of rice with high iron and zinc compounds could be possible through bio-fortification. That can also induce high quality yields, which could be eagerly accepted by farmers as well as rice consumers for healthier, longer lives.
The Last Word on Rice
Rice can also prevent chronic constipation. The insoluble fiber from rice acts like a soft sponge that may be pushed through the intestinal tract quickly and easily. Brown rice and whole grains are known to be rich in insoluble fiber. However, it is advisable to drink lots of water for relieving your constipated condition, in addition to eating fibrous foods.
Diabetic patients should include brown rice rather than white rice, which contains low levels of glycemic index. As little as one cup of brown rice on a daily basis provides a person with almost 100% of their daily manganese requirement, which helps to produce energy from carbohydrates and protein. Brown rice is also extremely beneficial for normal functioning of the nervous system and the production of sex hormones.