Rice is among the oldest food crops. It is a popular oriental food, forming the staple diet of a large proportion of the world’s population. For many people, especially in Asia, it has been the main source of calories since ancient times. The earliest mention of rice comes from China in 2800 BC, while it was grown in India around 3000 BC. It finds mention in the early literatures of China, Myanmar, Malaya and Thailand, while it was used by traditional physicians of ancient India. In south-east Asia, it has been traditionally considered food for the gods and used for religious offerings.
There are different varieties of rice; highly milled rice is called white rice, while another variety is milled and hand-pounded rice. If only the husk is removed and the layers of bran and most of the germ retained, the result is brown rice.
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Contents of Brown Rice
Nutrients are found in different proportions in different types of rice. This is because processing at different levels removes some minerals like vitamin B. Brown rice is rich in a number of nutrients such as starch, protein, fat, fiber, minerals and vitamins.
Other nutritional properties of brown rice include the following:
- vitamins of the B complex group, specially riboflavin, thiamine and niacin
- minerals including calcium, phosphorus and iron
- manganese, magnesium, selenium and tryptophan
- low in fat, cholesterol and salt
Health Benefits of Brown Rice
The nutrients in brown rice impart it with many health benefits and healing properties. The B complex vitamins nourish the skin and blood vessels. The minerals contribute to the healthy functioning of the hormonal system, regulate the blood pressure, heal wounds and maintain a healthy heartbeat. The iron in particular ensures a healthy circulatory system. The calcium in brown rice soothes and relaxes the nervous system and alleviates high blood pressure and hypertension, giving rise to the belief that it is supposed to make one serene.
Rice starch is different from other starches; brown rice is quickly and easily digested. Rice grain consists of 8% proteins, which are well balanced. These metabolize into amino acids which perform a number of functions. They strengthen the muscles, ligaments and tendons and boost the glandular function and nervous system. Moreover, they ensure healthy lungs, heart, skin, brain and eyesight.
The low fiber content soothes the digestive system, so brown rice is sometimes used to treat diarrhea in children.
Culinary and Other Uses of Brown Rice
Brown rice is cooked by boiling in water or even steaming. It makes a tasty combination with vegetables, pulses and poultry items.
It is also used as a rice flour or poultice to alleviate skin conditions like burns and injuries.
Among the many varieties of rice, brown rice has many health benefits, due to its rich nutrients. It is rich in minerals and vitamins, and thus promotes healthy functioning of the circulatory, digestive and nervous systems.