RICE is a food staple for more than half the world’s population but a by-product of this humble grain also has myriad benefits.
Mention rice to most people and the first thing they’ll think of is Asian food. A grain belonging to the grass family, rice is consumed by billions of people across the globe, and in many countries it is a staple.
Although rice is one of the few foods in the world that is entirely non-allergenic and gluten-free, it has little nutritional value. Ironically, however, it’s also the end result of a process that produces a by-product which is packed with benefits for both health and beauty.
After it’s harvested, rice goes through a milling process, during which the hull and various bran layers of kernel are removed. After this process, the rice is polished, giving the resulting seed a bright, white coating.
The discarded layers of rice bran may account for only around eight per cent of the harvested weight of the rice, but they contain more than two-thirds of its nutrition. It’s this stuff that’s a storehouse of super-nutrients.
Inside and out
Sue Shepherd, an accredited dietitian and author of Gluten Free Cooking (Penguin), says, “Rice bran contains many health-promoting nutrients.
They include high-quality protein, a complete profile of essential amino acids, omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, and more than 100 antioxidants.”
Health benefits include cardiovascular and digestive tract protection, blood sugar regulation, liver function support, diabetes management and cholesterol reduction.
Rice bran is also an excellent source of dietary fibre, which helps to keep bowels healthy.
“Total dietary fibre makes up 29 per cent of rice bran, of which the main type is insoluble fibre – fibre that doesn’t absorb water,” Shepherd explains.
Insoluble fibre has water-attracting properties that help to increase bulk, soften stools and shorten transit time through your intestines, while soluble fibre is processed through fermentation in the body.
“Some people experience abdominal discomfort if they consume a large amount of soluble fibre as it can be broken down to produce gas and distension in the gut,” Shepherd says.
“But rice bran fibre does not have this effect, and has been shown to improve bowel function and promote healthy bacteria in the colon.”
Excerpt from an article by Joanna Hall in Sunday Telegraph, body+soul
March 02, 2008 12:00am