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Rice is one of the most popular food grains in the world. From an annual production standpoint, rice production is only behind that of sugarcane and maize. But from a human consumption point of view, it is definitely the most important, providing about a fifth of calories consumed by humans globally. It is the staple food in large parts of the world, so much so that in some cultures the phrase ‘to eat’ means ‘to eat rice’.
Most people picture rice as white, shiny and polished but that isn’t the natural state in which rice is grown. White rice is derived from the rice plant after an extensive process which strips away most of the nutritional value found in the grain. So what does rice look like before it is processed? Brown!
What is the difference between white and brown rice?
The rice grain in its natural state has a number of layers and coatings. Once the outermost layer – known as the hull – is removed, rice takes a brown colour. But in order to get white rice, the process goes on for much longer. After the main hull is removed, the side hull and the germ layer are also removed providing much whiter rice. But the process of refining is still not over. After this, the rice is polished and during this process the aleurone layer is also removed. Finally, the rice is ready to be shipped as proper white rice which we find on the shelves of supermarkets.
It is easy to guess the effect of this extensive processing on the nutritional value of the rice. After the manufacturers are done milling and polishing the rice grain, it is left with very few of the essential nutrients, minerals and healthy fats it started out with. White rice can almost be considered a cheap replica of brown rice, bereft of its amazing nutritional values.
Now that we’ve cleared out the main differences between white rice and Brown Rice, here is a list of health benefits that the latter has over the former:-
Because of its relatively raw and unprocessed nature, brown rice counts as a whole grain – unlike white rice – which are an essential part of the diet. The health benefits of whole grains are numerous – from improving the digestive process to providing the body with necessary dietary fiber. But one of its most important benefits is for the heart. Studies have shown that just six servings of whole grains in a week can drastically reduce the risk of the build-up of arterial plaque, which in turn helps to keep the heart healthy and free from diseases.
The fiber found in brown rice has also been linked to reduced risk of colon cancer. Studies have shown that the dietary fiber actually binds itself to cancer causing toxins and ensures that they pass safely through the body without causing damage to our healthy cells.
Patients of diabetes are at risk of rapidly fluctuating blood sugar levels, which can cause several complications. Unlike white rice, brown rice is a slow release sugar which means that it off-loads its sugar content over a longer period of time than white rice. This property of brown rice ensures that there aren’t rapid changes in the blood sugar levels which is of great help to diabetic patients.
Due to the polishing process, white rice loses over half of the manganese content as compared to brown rice. Manganese is an important mineral for the body and one cup of brown rice can serve 80% of our daily manganese requirements. Regular intake of manganese is useful in preventing several illnesses like arthritis, cancer and cardiovascular problems.
Brown rice is also quite rich in magnesium, a key mineral in improving the quality of bones and preventing bone-related diseases like osteoporosis in later stages of life. One cup of brown rice can fulfil nearly 20% of your daily magnesium requirements.
Brown rice has many more benefits over white rice and all of these indicate that it is the better choice if we wish to live a healthy life!
To know more about organic brown rice, click here.
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