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Rice: A Good Grain For Your Heart

Rice is a great grain, especially because it is very versatile and can go well with nearly any food! There are approximately 8,000 different types of rice, and they are categorized by the size and the method used to process them. The main types are long, medium, and short grain rice. Sticky rice is the high-starch short grain, while long grain rice is less heavy and starchy. Medium-grain rice is usually somewhere in between the two. The methods used to process rice, like mentioned above, are also used to categorize them. White rice is the type most highly processed, with all of the bran, germ, and nutrients taken out. Brown rice still contains all of its nutrients because only the hard outer shell is taken off.

rice_a_good_grain_for_your_heart_imageRice was first cultivated in China around 7000 B.C. where it was a secret of Asia for several years. Later, travelers introduced rice into Greece and India and it eventually spread throughout the world. Interestingly, though many think that rice must grow in water, this is in fact not the case. Rice fields are flooded to control weeds and insects. Thailand, Vietnam, and China are the three biggest producers and exporters of rice; the United States only contributes about one percent of the world's total rice production.

Brown rice is quite comparable to whole wheat in its nutritional profile, as they contain about the same number of calories, vitamins, and minerals. Whole wheat does have more protein and fiber than does brown rice, but brown rice has the better quality protein when it comes to essential amino acid quantities.

The bran portion of brown rice has been used to help treat high cholesterol levels, primarily due to its high fiber content, but it also has gamma oryzanol; extracts of this compound have been used to treat digestive, menopausal, and cholesterol problems. The body does require small amounts of cholesterol for making cell walls and essential hormones, and because cholesterol is required for a healthy, functioning body, the liver produces cholesterol every day. But when a person eats a high saturated-fat, high sugar diet, the body makes more cholesterol than it can use, which is when the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems increase. The gamma oryzanol helps to reduce the body's production of cholesterol, and is so effective that it's similar to cholesterol-lowering medications. In fact, according to Dr. Maren Hegsted, Ph.D., professor of human nutrition and food at Louisiana State University, "In combination with a low-fat diet, brown rice is one of the best foods you can eat for lowering cholesterol."

Brown rice is also high in fiber, particularly the insoluble kind that acts like a sponge in the intestine, soaking up water and helping to make stools larger and easier and quicker to pass. Fiber in brown rice also binds with estrogen in the digestive tract, leaving less of this hormone to flow through the bloodstream. This is beneficial because high levels of estrogen have been shown to cause changes that can lead to breast cancer in cells. And because breast cancer is one of the highest occurring cancers in women today, this effect is of great benefit.

brown_rice_reduces_cholesterol_picBrown rice is by far the most nutritional rice as it has not had its nutrients removed. White rice is so heavily processed that it contains nearly no vitamins or nutrients, though some white rice brands have been fortified with a few selected nutrients. Brown rice is a great source of vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B6, manganese, iron, selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, and trace minerals. Brown rice also has a good amount of protein.

Rice may be purchased in small packages or in bulk. It does contain some natural oils that will spoil over time, so it's important to check the freshness date on packaged rice products. When buying rice in bulk, make sure that the bins are properly covered. Whether it’s in a package or in bulk, make sure to avoid any rice that has evidence of being in contact with moisture. Brown rice should be stored in an airtight container, and storing it in the fridge will keep the oils from going rancid.

Raw Rice PuddingIngredients
  • 1 cup soaked wild rice
  • 3 cups chopped young coconut meat
  • 1 cup young coconut water
Get the rest of the recipe at

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