One of nature’s most perfect and versatile foods, rice is easy to digest and replete with important nutrients essential for good health, especially in its whole grain state.
Our heirloom and specialty rices have been selected and maintained by farmers, for hundreds of years in some cases, for their superior qualities. In our conversations with men and women farmers the perceived health- enhancing properties of these rices stand out. They aren't able to list specific nutrients, so they refer instead to their sense of well-being when eating the rice. In lab analyses, however, many traditional rices have been shown to have more vitamins, minerals, protein and phytonutrients than modern high-yielding varieties. Additionally, cultivating rice organically or using SRI principles improves soil health and further enhances grain quality and nutrient content. Some of our rices are also produced in unique locations where soils have been enriched over millennia by natural forces and their fertility imbues the rice with even higher nutrient values.
Below is information about the specific nutrients found in our rices, as well as their health benefits.
- B Vitamins
- Vitamin E
Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals, or enzymes that may protect your cells against the effects of free radicals. Free radicals are molecules produced when your body breaks down food, or by environmental exposures like tobacco smoke and radiation. Free radicals can damage cells, and may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Free radical damage is thought by scientists to be the basis for the aging process. As such, antioxidants are a potent factor in maintaining optimum health. Many recent food trends have focused on high antioxidant foods (such as blueberries, tomatoes and pomegranate).
It is not as widely known that whole grains are a significant source of these valuable nutrients. Recent studies have shown that pigmented rices in particular, such as our Forbidden Rice®, Organic Forbidden Rice®, Bhutanese Red Rice and Madagascar Pink Rice, have antioxidant levels comparable to fruits and vegetables. This is due to anthocyanins, which are antioxidant compounds that give black and red rice, blueberries, blackberries, acai and other dark-pigmented foods their intense colors. Anthocyanins are a class of flavonoid antioxidant. Studies show that these potent antioxidants have anti-inflammatory properties, which has a positive influence on a variety of health conditions. Anthocyanins may protect against heart disease and cancer, while also improving the health of the nervous system and brain.
At the 2010 American Chemical Society meeting, Zhimin Xu, Associate Professor at the Department of Food Science at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, reported that “Just a spoonful of black rice bran [equivalent to 10 spoonfuls of cooked black rice] contains more health promoting anthocyanin antioxidants than are found in a spoonful of blueberries, but with less sugar and more fiber and vitamin E antioxidants.”
USDA Research M. Chen has published on the topic as well, noting that “Darker color bran whole-grain rices have potential to positively impact human health.” [Chen, M. 2011. Polyphenols and antioxidant capacity: Rice versus other common cereal grains. Texas Rice Special Section, Highlighting Research in 2011. p. VII-VIII.]
The B vitamins are eight water-soluble vitamins that play important roles in cell metabolism. These are: Vitamin B1 (thiamine), Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (niacin), Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine),Vitamin B7 (biotin), Vitamin B9 (folic acid) and Vitamin B12 (cobalamin).
B vitamins are an extremely important component of overall health. They have been shown to: support and increase the rate of metabolism, maintain healthy skin and muscle tone, enhance immune and nervous system function, promote cell growth and division and reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer. All of our whole grain rices are good sources of B vitamins.
Chlorophyll is the basis for sustaining the life processes of all plants. It is the molecule that absorbs sunlight and uses its energy to synthesize carbohydrates from CO2 and water -- the process known as photosynthesis.
Chlorophyll in its form is similar to that of hemoglobin. The only difference between a chlorophyll molecule and that of blood is a central atom, which is iron in blood and magnesium in chlorophyll. This similarity causes the body to have the capability of transforming a chlorophyll molecule into one of hemoglobin by changing just one atom of magnesium into one of iron.
Our Organic Jade Pearl Rice™ contains about 300 mg per serving – because it is infused with BamBoom™ extract, made from the Moso species of bamboo. Bamboo is considered to be an up-and-coming superfood due to its good nutritional profile.
Iron is an essential mineral that is a part of the blood cells in the body. The main function of iron is to help carry oxygen from the lungs to the muscles and other organs. Iron-deficiency anemia is a serious world-wide public health problem. It is estimated that only 65-70% of all Americans meet their daily recommended intake. When iron stores are depleted, oxygen circulates more slowly. If the body is low in iron, fatigue, irritability and headaches may occur. If the deficiency becomes significant, this can lead to anemia.
Carnaroli Rice, Indonesian Volcano Rice ™, and the Forbidden Rice® Heat & Eat Bowl are good sources of iron. The Volcano Rice™ Heat & Eat Bowl is high in iron.
Lignans are phytoestrogens with estrogenic or anti-estrogenic activity. Lignans may also have antioxidant activity. Some studies have reported a positive association between high levels of lignans in the body with reduced risks of prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, breast cancer, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. Plant lignans have also been associated with weight control, better blood sugar control and lower blood pressure*. Lignans are found in fruits and vegetables, seeds such as flaxseed, and whole grains. All of our whole grain rices are good sources of plant lignans.
*Read the abstract of the study, Lignans Associated with Weight Control.
Just one cup of brown rice (or other whole grain rice) will provide you with 88% of the daily value for manganese. This trace mineral helps produce energy from protein and carbohydrates and is involved in the synthesis of fatty acids, which are important for a healthy nervous system, and in the production of cholesterol, which is used by the body to produce sex hormones. Manganese is also a critical component of a very important antioxidant enzyme called superoxide dismutase. Superoxide dismutase (SOD) is found inside the body's mitochondria (the oxygen-based energy factories inside most of our cells) where it provides protection against damage from the free radicals produced during energy production.
All of our whole grain rices are high in manganese. Some contain 100% or more Daily Value in one serving.
Magnesium has been shown in studies to be helpful for reducing the severity of asthma, lowering high blood pressure, reducing the frequency of migraine headaches, and reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Magnesium, along with calcium, is essential for healthy bones. It helps give the bones their physical structure, and is also stored on the surface of the bones for the body to draw upon as needed. All of our whole grain rices are an excellent source of magnesium, containing about 20% of the daily recommended value.
Is rice the next Gatorade? Not likely, but one serving of our Bhutanese Red Rice has three times as much potassium (175 mg) as a glass of Gatorade Thirst Quencher (45 mg). That’s good news for the American diet, which doesn’t take in enough of this essential nutrient, part of the electrolyte family of minerals. They’re called electrolytes because they conduct electricity when dissolved in water and our bodies can’t function without them.
Potassium is especially important in regulating the activity of muscles and nerves. Activity of both muscles and nerves can become compromised when the diet is deficient in potassium. Potassium is also involved in the storage of carbohydrates for use by muscles as fuel. And it is essential to maintaining the body's proper electrolyte and acid-base (pH) balance. Potassium may also counteract the increased urinary calcium loss caused by the high-salt diets typical of most Americans, thus helping to prevent bones from thinning out at a fast rate.
Many health experts recommend taking in at least five times more potassium than sodium; whereas the typical American diet contains about two times more sodium than potassium. The symptoms of potassium deficiency include muscle weakness, confusion, irritability, fatigue, and heart disturbances. People with low potassium stores may tire more easily during exercise, as potassium deficiency causes a decrease in glycogen (the fuel used by exercising muscles) storage.
Potassium may also play a role in the prevention and/or treatment of the following health conditions: Atherosclerosis, cataracts, dehydration, diabetes, hepatitis, high blood pressure, inflammatory bowel disease and osteoporosis.
Selenium is also present in our rice. Selenium is an essential component of several major metabolic pathways, including thyroid hormone metabolism, antioxidant defense systems and immune function.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects cell membranes and tissues from damage caused by oxidation. Vitamin E is considered to be one of the most potent antioxidants. It is also important in the formation of red blood cells and promotes the function of a healthy circulatory system. Vitamin E is present in the bran of whole grain rice.
Zinc is an essential mineral involved in numerous aspects of cellular metabolism. It plays a role in immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing, DNA synthesis and cell division. Zinc also supports normal growth and development during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence and is required for proper sense of taste and smell. A daily intake of zinc is required because the body has no specialized zinc storage system. All of our whole grain rices are sources of zinc.