Most of us know that brown rice is nutritionally far superior to white rice. Why? Brown rice has only the hull—the outermost layer of the grain—removed, which is the least invasive nutrition-wise.
White rice, by contrast, is highly processed and removes 67% of vitamin B3, 80% of vitamin B1, 90% of vitamin B6, 50% of the manganese, 50% of the phosphorous, 60% of the iron, and all dietary fiber and essential fatty acids. In essence, this strips the rice of a fair amount of its nutritional value.
Perhaps that’s why, in the United States, the law requires white rice to be enriched with vitamins B1, B3 and iron—although these aren’t the same as the indigenous nutrients that were lost in the processing. What’s more is that at least 11 nutrients lost in the white rice processing are not ever replaced.
Brown rice provides an excellent source of manganese. In fact, one cup of brown rice gives you 88% of the Daily Value (DV) for manganese, a trace mineral that helps produce energy from protein and carbohydrates and is involved of the synthesis of fatty acids and cholesterol. Manganese is also a strong part of an antioxidant enzyme called superoxide dismutase which helps to fight off free radicals.†
Brown rice is also a good source of fiber and selenium. One cup of brown rice supplies 14% of the Daily Value of fiber and over 27% of the Daily Value for selenium—a trace mineral that is at the active site of many proteins and is essential to thyroid hormone metabolism, antioxidant defense systems and immune function.†
Brown rice also provides a rich source of magnesium, a mineral which is a co-factor of over 300 enzymes—including enzymes necessary for healthy blood sugar levels. Magnesium also plays a role in supporting cardiovascular health, already healthy blood pressure levels and strong bones.† One cup of brown rice supplies 21% of the Daily Value for magnesium.
While brown rice packs a nutritional wallop in its plain form, its nutritional value is enhanced when it is sprouted or germinated—that is, soaked for several hours before it’s cooked. Researchers found that germinated brown rice has more fiber, three times the amount of lysine (an essential amino acid) and ten times the amount of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)—an amino acid that supports healthy kidney function—than regular brown rice.†
Why the increased nutrient levels?
Researchers say the germination process activates enzymes that release additional nutrients. Hiroshi Kayahara, Ph.D., the lead researcher in this brown rice project, explains, “The birth of a sprout activates dormant enzymes in the brown rice all at once to supply the best nutrition to the growing sprout.”
The researchers also note that white rice will not sprout and that the sprouted brown rice has a sweet flavor due to the enzymes breaking down some of the sugar and protein in the grain.
Speaking of protein in the brown rice…those on a plant-based diet often have a difficult time finding a high-quality supplemental protein source, but brown rice protein may prove to be one worthy of trying.
Brown rice protein is nutritionally rich and often has enzymes added to separate the protein from the carbohydrates—resulting in a brown rice protein powder that’s about 70% protein and contains four times more arginine than other protein powders. (Arginine is converted into nitric oxide, which allows better delivery of nutrients.) Brown rice protein is also rich in glutamine, which promotes muscle growth and supports immune health.†
With all the other positive nutritional attributes of brown rice, that’s yet another win for this amazing grain.
† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.