Uncovering a kernel of truth
Rice, a staple for more than half the world's population, has a rich history dating back to 5,000 BC. While white rice holds little nutritional value, the bran that is removed contains 65 percent of the rice kernel's nutrients and boasts a bounty of healthful benefits.
Rice, a staple for more than half the world’s population, has a rich history dating back to 5,000 BC. While white rice holds little nutritional value, the bran that is removed contains 65 percent of the rice kernel’s nutrients and boasts a bounty of healthful benefits.
Rice bran is the delicate layer between the outer husk and the inner white rice kernel, accounting for only about 8 percent of the harvested weight but over two-thirds of its nutrition. Good things do indeed come in small packages! Scientists have long known that rice bran was a storehouse of precious but delicate super-nutrients. In the production of white rice, a process known as polishing removes the bran from the kernel. Once this occurs, a naturally occurring enzyme within the bran begins to break it down, resulting in rapid spoiling.
Stabilizing the Bran
Efforts to prolong the life-sustaining power of rice bran failed for many years. Finally, in the early 1980s, researchers at the USDA’s Western Regional Research Center developed a procedure known as stabilization, which deactivates the enzyme that causes spoiling using a combination of heat and pressure, making rice bran safe from oxidative rancidity. As a result, it has been transformed into a valuable food resource and is believed to be one of the most bioavailable whole foods on earth.
Striking It Rich
Let’s take a look at what rice bran has to offer.
Healthy fats in the form of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, an impressive mineral profile, B vitamins including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and B6, and tocopherols and tocotrienols (vitamin E) top the list. Rice bran is an excellent source of dietary fibre, contains all of the nine essential amino acids, and if that wasn’t enough to send you racing to your local health food store, it contains more than 100 known antioxidants.
Benefits to our health include cardiovascular and digestive tract protection, blood sugar regulation, liver function support, diabetes management, and performance enhancement. Rice bran is cancer fighting, cholesterol lowering, and contributes to healthy hair and nails.
Stabilized rice bran is a potent mix of phytochemicals, antioxidants, and micronutrients. Although it is a new entrant in the nutraceutical field, it is rapidly accumulating positive results from lab research and clinical trials.
What was once discarded as a rancid byproduct of the milling process has now been transformed into one of the most valuable food resources ever discovered, and thanks to technology, this ancient little kernel has become a modern-day treasure.
Did you know wild rice is actually a seed from an aquatic grass, rather than a true member of the rice family, and is the only cereal native to Canada?
When purchasing wild rice, look for the size of the kernels, colour, and odour. Quality wild rice should have large kernels and be a rich, dark brown in colour and have a pleasant odour–it should not smell swampy or musty. When cooked, it should have a deep nutty flavour.