Last year, the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) led a nationwide drive to promote brown rice as a healthier option to white rice.
The Brown Rice Program of the DOST being conducted by the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) is being bruited about as one of the solutions to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production. Not only that, brown rice is recommended by health authorities to be served in more Filipino households as a staple food for its many health benefits.
The FNRI says brown rice is any variety of rice that has been dried, cleaned and milled with only the husk removed while leaving the rice kernel coated with bran layer. White rice on the other hand, undergoes a second milling process that removes the bran layer, and is thus referred to as “polished rice.”
The bran layer and the germ are very rich in nutrients like fiber, minerals, vitamins B (thiamine) and E that prevent beri-beri and protein.
According to the Food Composition Tables of the FNRI-DOST, brown rice nutritionally offers more energy, protein, fat, thiamine, niacin, calcium, iron, phosphorus and dietary fiber as unpolished brown rice retains much more of its nutrients.
A significant percent of calcium, phosphorus, and thiamine are removed after rice is polished. Protein content is also lessened by 26 percent when the bran layers are removed.
Health authorities said brown rice is rich in minerals like selenium and manganese and high in fiber content that helps regulate the release of glucose, hence avoiding abrupt rise in sugar levels of consumers, and in preventing colon cancers because it not only aids in digestion and reduces constipation, but also in hindering the formation of gallstones. It is also a good antioxidant that helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Dr. Mario V. Capanzana, FNRI director, said that a shift to eating brown rice could significantly contribute to lowering the incidence of malnutrition among children.
“Unfortunately few people use it due to longer cooking time and availability in the market,” Capanzana said.
To make brown rice more acceptable to the buying public, several studies were made to prolong the shelf life of brown rice from a maximum of three months to about five to nine months.#