A New Reason to Eat Brown Rice

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto
Photo credit: Bigstockphoto

Brown rice is less processed than white rice – so it has more nutrients and fiber. Because white rice is stripped of its vitamins, it’s often fortified – a process which adds back some of the lost vitamins and minerals. Because of its higher fiber content, brown rice wins out over white rice in terms of health. Now, there may be another reason to eat brown rice. Researchers at Temple University School of Medicine have discovered a component in brown rice that lowers blood pressure and helps to protect against heart disease.

Brown Rice vs. White Rice: What’s the Difference?

A grain of rice contains a layer underneath its surface called the subaleurone layer. This is where most of the fiber and nutrients are found. When brown rice is processed to make white rice, this layer is removed – taking the nutrients and fiber with it.

Temple researchers recently discovered a component in the subaleurone layer of the rice grain that inhibits angiotensin 2 – a protein that causes blood vessels to constrict and the kidneys to retain more sodium – causing a rise in blood pressure. A group of commonly used blood pressure medications called ACE inhibitors targets this protein – a protein which also plays a role in heart disease.

The Benefits of Eating Brown Rice: Good for the Heart and Blood Pressure?

Eating brown rice may be a natural way to block the action of the angiotensin 2 enzyme and lower blood pressure along with the risk of heart disease. Brown rice is a good source of fiber which helps to lower cholesterol levels – another heart-healthy benefit. There’s still more good news. Whole grains such as brown rice contain lignans – compounds which protect against heart disease and may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer – particularly breast cancer. Lignans are the same components that make flaxseed such a healthy food.

Shouldn’t You Eat Brown Rice?

If you’re still eating processed, polished white rice, make the switch to brown – particularly if you have high blood pressure or are at high risk for heart disease. Chances are you need the additional fiber and brown rice is gentler to blood sugar levels. If you don’t like the taste, try mixing brown rice with white rice until you learn to appreciate the different taste. Chances are, after an adjustment period, you won’t miss the polished white stuff.

References:

Medical News Today. “Brown Rice and Cardiovascular Protection”.


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