Some people are meat and potatoes people and others are fish and rice. Or just rice. Rice has become a staple in our diets and is often never served alone. We see it cooked with peas, carrots, and onions. We add sugar, milk and raisins and serve it as a pudding. We have it for dinner, lunch and sometimes breakfast.
Rice comes in more than one color. White, brown, black, red but are any of these more beneficial than the other?
Yes. Brown rice is rice that has its bran and germ intact. The bran and germ provide fiber, B vitamins Thiamin and Niacin, and minerals like magnesium, manganese and zinc.
Brown rice is considered a whole grain and provides an easy way to meet your recommended daily intake. It also provides insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber creates that feeling of fullness and may help with weight management. Plus in a 2010 study, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that “eating two or more servings of brown rice per week was associated with a lower risk of the disease [type 2 diabetes].”
Black and red rice is similar in that it is still whole. Recent research is starting to show that black rice may be even higher in antioxidants. In an article on Science Daily, Dr. Zhimin Xu, Associate Professor at the Department of Food Science at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center in Baton Rouge, La., said “Just a spoonful of black rice bran contains more health promoting anthocyanin antioxidants than are found in a spoonful of blueberries, but with less sugar and more fiber and vitamin E antioxidants.”
White rice, on the other hand, is rice that has had its outer layers, the fiber rich bran and germ, removed. The part that is left, the white endosperm, contains few nutrients which are later added back in. Initially meant for commercial flour, the Enrichment Act of 1942 requires the lost nutrients iron, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin and folate (amended in 1996) be added to all refined grains. This is why white rice is labeled as enriched rice. Ironically, white rice is enriched “to bring the nutritional level of the milled product up to that of the whole grain (brown)…” according to American Rice Inc.
Short cooking time and a longer shelf life makes white rice a popular choice. Have you noticed the 25 lb bags of white rice on the bottom shelf compared to the 2 lb (or smaller) bags of brown rice?
Brown rice shouldn’t be confused with rice that is artificially colored or dyed. For instance, Mexican rice (I was 10 when I cooked up my first dish) is simply white rice that has been sauteed and colored with spices such as cumin and chili powder.
If you eat a lot of rice, and my family does, why not try brown rice? Brown rice is higher in fiber, a whole grain and offers a nuttier earthy taste. The nutrients and potential health benefits are worth it!
Storage tip for brown rice: According to the USA Rice Federation, brown rice has a shelf life of six months because of the oil in the bran. Storing whole rice in the refrigerator will help prolong shelf life.