Don't expect brown rice to taste quite the same as white rice, but do expect to gain more nutrients. Brown rice is a whole grain that provides B vitamins, calcium, iron and potassium. While it’s low in fat, it delivers about 2 percent of the recommended adequate intake of omega-3, and 4 percent of the omega-6, fatty acids. But that’s just the beginning of its potential health benefits.
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Whole Grain Basics
Rice is a member of the grass family that produces an edible grain. When the grain is left intact, with an outer bran layer and inner germ layer, it’s a whole grain called brown rice. If the rice is refined, the bran and germ are removed and the result is white rice. Brown rice is a healthier choice because many of the vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber are in the bran and germ.
Higher intakes of whole grains, such as brown rice, are associated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. One cup of cooked brown rice has 4 grams of dietary fiber, which represents 14 percent of the recommended daily value based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet. This source of insoluble fiber lowers cholesterol and, in addition to decreasing your chance of heart disease, may also slow its progression, according to the American Heart Association.
The high fiber content of brown rice also contributes to intestinal health by reducing the chance of constipation. Fiber passes through the digestive tract without being broken down and absorbed, so it adds bulk to stool and helps it move more rapidly through the intestines. High-fiber diets may also help decrease the risk of diverticulitis.
Brown rice is a good source of two trace minerals that function as antioxidants. One cup of cooked brown rice provides 88 percent of the recommended daily value of manganese, which serves as an antioxidant in the cell’s energy-producing mitochondria. This important mineral is also needed for the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and cholesterol, as well as the formation of collagen. Brown rice delivers about 27 percent of the daily value of selenium, which is used in antioxidant enzymes in blood vessel walls.