Rice, in its many forms, can be considered one of the most important staple foods in the world and it is quite possible it has been that way since the dawn of civilization. Today, it is estimated that is supplies approximately 20% of the world’s total food energy. Asia and the Pacific region produce and consume 90% of all the rice on the planet and in the United States, rice industry is worth 2.2 billion dollars in exports alone

There are literally thousands varieties of rice, including short, medium and long-grain white rice, brown rice, purple, yellow, black, red and all the shades in between, each of them differentiated by a unique flavor and texture. Nowadays, basmati rice from India, Arborio from Italy and jasmine from Thailand are growing in popularity amongst countless other types. These same varieties can be quite costly in comparison to white rice, even twice as much.

It’s been stated many times that brown rice is a lot healthier than white rice. That is true, however, we should take the growing process into consideration, since it’s of vital importance to know the chemicals used during the growing process and how these foods have found the path to your table.

White rice has been shown to be inferior in regards to macronutrient content to wild rice

Although white rice has more thiamin, about 25% of the RDA(Recommended Daily Value), calcium and folic acid, wild rice presents a longer overall nutritional profile, satisfying 10% of the RDA in regard to folates, niacin and vitamin B6 and 8% in riboflavin in a one-cup serving.

In comparison, wild rice is denser with nutrients and it has a much lower number of calories and carbs than white rice. It also has three times more fiber than white rice and an impressively high protein amount because of the high levels of lysine and methionine which belong to the essential group of amino acids. Them being essential means that they cannot be produced naturally by the body so they must be consumed from an outside food source.

Lysine is considered to be one of the building material of protein, that is essential for optimal muscle growth and converting fatty acids into energy, lowering your cholesterol levels and collagen formation for developing tissues, strong bones, skin, tendons, and cartilage. It can also prevent the loss of calcium in the urine and even prevent the loss of bone tissue also known as osteoporosis.

Methionine is also essential to cartilage formation and is especially beneficial for those suffering from arthritis by boosting their sulfur production. Other benefits methionine has for your body are dissolving fats in the liver, as well as anti-inflammatory effect, pain reduction and hair loss reduction

Wild rice is also abundant in minerals. That same on-cup serving contains 15% of the phosphorus daily needs, together with the exact same amount of zinc, both of which are vital to muscle, nerve and heart function, as well as a good amount of magnesium. Wild rice is also an excellent choice for those looking to lose weight since it makes you feel full for longer periods of time.

How does brown rice compare to white rice?

One cup of brown rice contains 10% of the daily protein requirements and 14% of fiber requirements. It also contains healthy amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, and selenium, in addition to vitamin B6, niacin, and thiamin. It’s also amazingly rich in manganese. One serving contains 88% of your daily requirements. Manganese is known to convert carbs and protein into energy, helps in cholesterol production to generate sex hormones and offers nervous system support.

Manganese is also a component of an essential enzyme called superoxide dismutase, which is found in the cells’ mitochondria and plays the vital role of protecting the cells from damage induced by free radicals. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health have found that brown rice has numerous other benefits for your body, including the digestive, cardiovascular and nervous system. It is rich in antioxidants which can lessen the symptoms of lots of ailments like elevated levels of cholesterol, hypertension, mental depression, stress and some forms of skin disorder.

Brown rice with its rich nutritional content has proven invaluable in treating numerous medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer, obesity, different kinds of neurodegenerative disorders and insomnia. It’s also been proven to have anti-depressing effects and can help maintain healthy bone structure as well as a stronger immune system.

Switching from white rice to brown can help you lower the risk of type 2 diabetes

When it comes to availability in stores and cost white rice beats black, brown and wild rice. However, research has shown that eating white rice for three or four times a week is likely to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes while eating the same amount of brown rice has shown to have the exact opposite effect. The majority of people are unaware of that fact that switching the two types of rice can reduce the type 2 diabetes mostly because brown rice has a lot more to offer when it comes to minerals, vitamins, fiber content and phytochemicals, and what’s most important does not cause large increases in blood sugar levels after you eat it.

The very process of producing white rice which includes polishing and milling the brown rice removes the majority of minerals and vitamins. Milling takes away most of the fiber, which can help you prevent diabetes by slowing the releasing of glucose into the bloodstream

Is black rice even better than brown rice?

Black rice is also known as forbidden or purple rice and it originates from Asia. It offers the same benefits that brown rice those, but with brown rice, you also get a variety of powerful antioxidants. Black rice has the same thick outer shell as brown rice does, which would take you a bit more time to cook than white rice, but you can try soaking it for an hour which would speed up the cooking

Research has shown that there is a correlation between the color of the rice and its nutrient content. The darker it is, the more nutrient-rich it is. Black rice has been proven to have anthocyanins which have similar nutritional effects to those found in blackberries and blueberries.

Numerous studies have shown that anthocyanins can help you fight some serious health issues like heart disease and cancer. Studies, where black rice bran was tested, found that black rice has proven itself to be a powerful therapeutic food that could prevent and treat diseases that are connected to chronic inflammation. Studies have found that black rice can decrease dermatitis symptoms, while brown rice couldn’t.

A worrying discovery of arsenic in today’s rice

A report has been released in 2012 where the main discussion was the discovery of arsenic in grape and apple juice. Consumer Reports made numerous test on rice afterward concluding that they found significant amounts of arsenic in two of its forms in almost every product they tested. They found both inorganic arsenic, which is very carcinogenic, as well as organic arsenic, which even though is not so toxic it still poses a problem. What’s more worrying is that the foods tested are staples in the majority of people’s diets, consumed by both children and adults.

Rice Krispies cereal was one of the products tested and it proved to have relatively low levels at 2.2 to 2.7 micrograms per one serving, and Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Pasta Fusilli was shown to have a bit higher levels of 6.0 to 7.0 micrograms per serving. The most disturbing find was that significant levels of arsenic were also discovered in infant cereals meant for 4-12 month-year-old babies. EPA studies from 2009 and 2010 put rice behind fruits and fruit juices in regards to levels of inorganic arsenic, 17 percent and 18 percent respectively and the top place taken by vegetables that had 24 percent

Even thought the USA Rice Federation doesn’t agree with these concerns since according to them inorganic arsenic is considered a natural compounds, the Consumer Reports study disagrees, saying that inorganic arsenic as the form in which arsenic is found in the majority of products they analyzed is ranked by IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) among the top 100 Group 1 carcinogen substances. It has been proven to be the cause of lung, skin and bladder cancer, and current studies are on the way to prove that it can create cancers in the kidney, liver, and prostate too.

How did it get there?

Traces of arsenic have been found in rice because the rice is being grown in soils that have been contaminated. How it got there in the first place should be studied by historians. Every so often, farming processes included adding harmful toxins in herbicides and pesticides, not mentioning the feeding of animals in confined conditions which has drastically changed food production from the small local and sustainable farm model that the informed general population would want.

The rice is unique in that it absorbs the arsenic from the soil or from the water a lot more efficiently than most of the plants do. That is partially due to rice being one of the major crops that is grown in conditions flooded with water, which enables it to more easily absorb the arsenic through its roots and store it inside. Another plant that has similar properties in regards to arsenic is cotton, a crop once heavily sprayed with pesticides containing arsenic in order to kill off the boll weevil beetle.

Recommendations

All types of rice provide unique benefits to your health, so it wouldn’t be advisable to eliminate certain types altogether from your diet. One general guideline everyone should follow is to prioritize the organic types as much as possible, regardless of whether it’s brown, white or wild rice, and if you’re not exactly sure of where it came from, you should limit your intake to two servings weekly so that decrease the risk of exposure to arsenic. Additionally, make sure that your carb sources are unprocessed as possible, free of pesticides and other chemical additives and that they have not been genetically modified.


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