The Benefits of Brown Rice

Many of us are becoming aware of the fact that brown rice is healthier than white rice, and that we should be incorporating it into our diets.  Even sushi restaurants have begun offering brown-rice alternatives on their menus in order to keep up with public demand.

However, some people are just starting to learn that brown rice offers myriad health benefits, and more information about whole grains is being researched every day.  But why, exactly, is brown rice healthier?  What makes it so much more different, and so much more nutritious, than its (admittedly tasty) white counterpart?

Let’s start by looking at the way they are both produced, and how the processes that are involved in their production greatly affect not just appearance, but overall nutritional content.

Brown vs. White

Brown rice–the denser and chewier of the two, with a flavour all its own that many have described as “nutty”–is unrefined.  This means that once its surrounding hull has been removed, the bran and the germ beneath the rice kernel remain untouched, leaving it with its original colour and earthy taste.  In other words, there is no extensive refinement or “polishing” taking place during production, and you end up with a product that stays, more or less, in its original form.

White rice, on the other hand, is entirely refined and processed.  Not only is the hull removed from the kernel, but also the bran and germ.  A  polishing process then takes place that gives white rice its snow-white appearance, and in removing these outer layers of the rice, important nutrients are also stripped.  This makes for an excellent, light texture and neutral side dish for many meals, but nutritionally-speaking, not much more than a source of empty carbohydrates.

Both types of rice contain roughly the same amount of calories and carbohydrates (approximately 350 calories / 77 grams of carbs per 100 grams) but white rice contains none of the vitamins and minerals that makes brown rice so wholesome, including considerable quantities of Vitamin B1, B3, B6, iron, and manganese.

Along with these nutrients, vast amounts of valuable fibre are removed in the refining process.

Fibre and Heart Health

Brown rice belongs to the family of whole grains, which also includes buckwheat, quinoa, barley, and spelt. Many nutritionists, as well as medical experts, advise people to incorporate whole grains into their diets, as we are now thankfully moving past the questionable “no carb” craze that had a stronghold on Western society not that long ago. Whole grains contain several essential vitamins and minerals which play a big role in regulating blood pressure and overall cardiovascular health.

Fibre, however, has its own vital impact on cardiovascular health.  According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, dietary fibre is important for a few reasons:

  • Controlling blood glucose (sugar)
  • Managing blood pressure
  • Reducing blood cholesterol
  • Controlling weight
  • Regulating bowel movement
  • Prevention of atherosclerosis (“hardening of the arteries”)

 

Whole-grain fibre has also been linked to a reduction in certain cancers and heart diseases; and as a bonus, consuming it can also help you feel full longer, so you don’t find yourself nibbling on snack foods to stave off hunger pangs, or overeating during your meal times.

White rice is not considered a whole-grain fibre due to the amount of refinement it undergoes during processing.  Indeed, it is one of the most common side dishes in the world. While certainly not particularly dangerous or unhealthy, finding a brown-rice substitute whenever possible will give you the added benefit of fibre and nutrients without the insulin spike that white rice often provides.*

Brown rice, along with many whole grains, is low on the Glycemic Index scale, which means blood sugar is stable and appetite is satiated for a good period of time. (see end of article for more information from Diabetes.ca)

Fibre, of course, is also found in numerous fruits, vegetables, and legumes, many combinations of which can be found in our Flaxroll wraps, as well as in our soups, salads, and vegan chili.

Anderssen’s High-Fibre Flaxroll Wraps

We mentioned in another article how high in Omega-3 essential fatty acids our Flaxroll “wrappers” are, but along with flaxseed, the wrappers contain a high brown rice content, giving you a hearty dose of fibre in just the outer layer.

The fillings are vast and varied, many of which are crammed with high-fibre, high-volume vegetables and legumes.  Even better is the fact that many of our savoury Flaxrolls also contain brown rice in their filling, so you get a nutritionally-complete meal (or snack) loaded with fibre, protein, vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, and the aforementioned Omega-3’s.  This is why we refer to our wraps as a “superfood”–because they really are!

Our sweet Goldenrolls, which also contain golden flaxseed and brown rice in the wrapper, can be thought of as a wholesome alternative to traditional breakfast or snack foods.  One example is our Apple Pie Goldenrolls, which are an excellent substitute for the very cake-like components of muffins (or pie!), fillled with delicious apples, sweetened lightly and naturally, all the while containing a hearty serving of brown rice with each wrap.

A comprehensive list of our Flaxrolls can be seen here: http://www.andflax.com/flaxrolls

Brown rice is one of the most heart-healthy foods you can consume.  If you haven’t been a fan of it up to this point, we may change your mind for you.

 Author: N.Bondoreff

*This is according to the Canadian Diabetes Foundation website, and is not meant to diagnose or serve as medical advice from Anderssen’s.  

More information on blood sugar and the Glycemic Index can be found here: http://www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/healthy-living-resources/diet-nutrition/the-glycemic-index

 

Sources:

http://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/whole-grains-a-to-z

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/heart-healthy-diet/art-20047702

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100426151625.htm

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