There are a lot of different types of rice out there, and many different arguments about why a certain type is better than the other in terms of health. The type that seems to pop up as the most beneficial for your health is brown rice. Brown rice and white rice are very similar, but brown rice tends to have the slight edge in nutritional value. It’s also very versatile since you can eat it with a lot of different foods, or even on its own.
So how does brown rice, a culinary staple all around the world, benefit your health? While some of the benefits are pretty well known, there are others that might surprise you. It’s not considered by many to be the best diet food out there, but brown rice even has its benefits in that department. Let’s take a look at the nutritional value of brown rice, and what those health benefits will be if you eat more in your diet.
Nutrition of Brown Rice
People might be a little hesitant to eat brown rice if they are trying to watch their weight, as the calorie count is a bit high. In one cup of cooked brown rice, you’re getting 216 calories, but there are so many benefits you’ll be getting out of those calories. For starters, you are getting 10 percent of your protein recommendation and even 14 percent of your dietary fiber recommendation. There aren’t too many abundant vitamins, but you are getting a significant amount of niacin, thiamin, vitamin B6 and pantothenic acid with each serving.
The minerals are the highlight for brown rice, as you are getting nearly 90 percent of your manganese recommendation. Magnesium and selenium also come in at more than 20 percent, while phosphorus and copper are right there, as well. Calcium, iron, potassium and zinc are all under 10 percent, but they are still very prevalent.
Wait, can brown rice really help you lose weight? After all we said about the calorie count? It’s true, as long as you are limiting your brown rice and fitting it in with a normal calorie count to lose weight (1200-1500 depending on different factors), brown rice can help you a lot. A lot of it has to do with the fact that brown rice is high in fiber. This will allow your digestive system (more on that later) to operate more efficiently.
With a better digestive system, you are going to see a metabolism boost. Brown rice will also help you feel more full as it can take some time to eat, reducing cravings for other foods in the process. The manganese content in brown rice also helps your body break down fats much easier, allowing you to cut away from that stubborn belly fat. So you might want to add brown rice to your weight loss plan, after all.
There are a lot of great things that brown rice can do for your heart. Starting it off, brown rice helps to control your blood sugar, helping to prevent diabetes and many different heart diseases associated with diabetes. Brown rice is even better in that regard than white rice. You can find a solid amount of selenium in brown rice, too, which allows for better blood flow and a reduction in artery plaque.
Overall, brown rice can help you to reduce your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels while increasing your HDL (good) cholesterol levels. All of those minerals found in brown rice are incredibly good for your heart, and a lot of heart problems stem from a magnesium deficiency. You won’t have to worry too much about that if you’re eating more brown rice.
When considering the most important organs in your body, you automatically think of your heart and brain. We covered the heart, and now it’s time for the brain. Vitamins and minerals in brown rice (especially magnesium) can help to regulate your nervous system, which also includes the brain. Down the road, this helps you avoid neurological problems such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.
Even for everyday mental health, brown rice offers some aid. Studies have shown that brown rice can reduce symptoms of both depression and insomnia. The amino acids stimulate your neurotransmitters, and even produce melatonin. These will make you feel more relaxed to sleep well and fight off signs of depression.
Brown rice is so good for your digestive health, that it’s even recommended that babies eat more of it. Fiber has a lot to do with brown rice’s ability to boost your digestive system, and the fact that it’s low on the glycemic index also helps. Studies have been done to compare the effects on digestive health between brown and white rice. It turns out that brown rice has a better effect on helping with problems such as constipation and diarrhea while also alleviating intestinal discomfort.
You can list just about any mineral, antioxidant, amino acid or fiber content in brown rice, and all of them are going to help you fight off a lot of serious diseases. Of course, cancer is the first one that we think about, and brown rice can help fight many different types of cancer. The phenols in brown rice fight off the free radicals and can prevent the growth of cancer cells.
Those antioxidants are even going to fight minor problems such as wound infections and the common cold. Though it doesn’t offer the immune boost that some foods that are high in vitamin C will, brown rice is still an important tool for your diet. Even yeast infections run and hide when introduced to the nutrients of brown rice.
Summing it Up
While there are people that swear up and down that brown rice isn’t that healthy, the negatives aren’t quite as bad as you would think. Two of the biggest complaints are that brown rice doesn’t have a long shelf life before turning into white rice, and that it takes a while to eat brown rice, making you not eat your other food. These are incredibly minor negatives that you might not even have to experience.
You shouldn’t depend on a diet that is completely made of brown rice or you will lack a range of vitamins and minerals, but not many people would even think of doing that. Really, the only thing you have to look out for is contamination in brown rice as it can happen when grown incorrectly. In major countries, this is a very rare problem to have with food regulations.
So knowing all of the benefits and the very minor drawbacks that you’re likely to never see, you’re probably willing to eat brown rice more often instead of other foods. That’s a good idea, and just a few servings per week will make sure that you get all of those benefits. Not only that, but brown rice tastes great, and is easy to incorporate into any diet!