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Eat well, stay healthy with brown rice

Ever wondered why nutritionists advise to replace white rice with brown rice? The difference between brown rice and white rice is not just colour! Well it is because brown rice has far more nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre which can help to prevent a number of life threatening diseases.

What is brown rice

It is the rice where only the outmost layer – the hull – of the rice kernel is removed and so much so that the nutritional value of the rice least damaged. The complete milling and polishing that converts brown rice into white rice destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1, 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids. Fully milled and polished white rice is required to be enriched with vitamins B1, B3 and iron. Even then it cannot match brown rice in its nutritional value.

Why brown rice is one of the world's healthiest foods

A whole grain of rice has several layers. Only the outermost layer, the hull, is removed to produce what we call brown rice. This process ensures that the nutritional value of the rice remains almost intact. If brown rice is further milled to remove the bran and most of the germ layer, the result is a whiter rice, but also a rice that has lost many more nutrients. At this point, however, the rice is still unpolished, and it takes polishing to produce the white rice we are used to seeing. Polishing removes the aleurone layer of the grain - a layer filled with health-supportive, essential fats. This layer is removed to extend the shelf life of the product. 

The nutrients in brown rice

Brown rice is an excellent source of manganese. There are plenty of selenium, phosphorus, copper, magnesium and niacin (vitamin B3). 

How to store

Rice is available prepackaged as well as in bulk containers. If purchasing brown rice in a packaged container, check to see if there is a "use-by" date on the package since brown rice, owing to its natural oils, has the potential to become rancid if kept too long.

Since brown rice still features an oil-rich germ, it is more susceptible to becoming rancid than white rice and therefore should be stored in the refrigerator. Stored in an airtight container, brown rice will keep fresh for about six months.

Tips for cooking brown rice

Rinse the rice thoroughly under running water and then remove any dirt or debris that you may find. Soak it for about one to two hours then cook, adding two and half parts of boiling water. After the liquid has returned to a boil, turn down the heat, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes.