Brown Rice, White Rice, Biryani and Ice Cream and Rice hulling process

By Dr Harold Gunatillake; Health Writer; FRCS, FACS (US), FIACS (US), AM (SING), MBBS (Cey)

In the 1950s and before, when everything and anything white was considered better and healthier, even the cooked rice on the dining table was preferred to be white; complemented well with the darker curries and the decorated table cloth, pleasing to the eyes, initiated a wholesome appetite, too. Would you serve brown rice to your guests and that would be most humiliating?

Even restaurants would not serve brown rice, patronizing the Chinese restaurants would serve mostly jasmine white rice with a known GI (glycaemic index), as much as 90, or fried white rice. That was the period when our servants were given brown rice, and the masters and the other household cohorts enjoyed the white varieties. In the villages brown rice was preferred to white, may be too lazy to go through the process of hulling and polishing, or they knew their nutritional values.

Today, brown rice is considered healthier and better for you, even better for the environment than white rice.

Rice goes through a variety of processes before it's ready for cooking. After harvesting, the seeds are run through a rice huller/husker for milling to remove the outer grain husks. After this process, you're left with brown rice. The light brown colour is due to the presence of the bran layers and the embryo or germ.

Red rice also contains bran. Bran contains pigment compounds which imparts the colours. The term parboiled rice is used in optional processing step prior to milling. To create white rice, there are added steps. The germ and the inner husk (bran) is removed, the grain is then polished, usually using glucose or talc.

The hulls of the paddy seeds can be reclaimed and used as fuel or turned into many abrasives, animal feed and other products.
So, brown rice is a 'wholemeal' food and white rice minus its nutrients and added synthetics (enriched with B1, B3 and iron) is called 'fortified' rice. The latter is also named milled white rice. In Sri Lanka such enriching of the white polished rice is unlikely to be carried out as in countries like the U.S. The same type of thing happens to wholesome brown bread and white bread.

The loss of nutrients is substantial, vitamin E, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folacin, Potassium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Selenium Iron and many other nutrients are removed in white rice. The amount of fibre in white rice is about a quarter of brown rice.

It is observed that uncooked brown rice does not last in stores as much as the white rice, because of the oil-rich bran layer. Air tight containers or vacuum sealed may need to be used to store brown uncooked rice, lasts then for over six months. Brown rice takes a little more time to cook than white rice. It is preferred to pre-soak the rice in water for about half an hour to cook quicker, as less water is used during the cooking process.

Nutritive values per 100gm. of cooked brown rice
Vitamin B: Thiamine 32mg;
Niacin: 4.6mg. Vitamin B6
Vitamin K. Selenium, magnesium, tryptophan,
Calcium: 39mg;
Iron: 2mg.
Phosphorus: 303mg.;
Potassium: 150mg;
Fat: 1.7mg;
Protein: 7-5gm
Calories: 360

Health benefits of Brown Rice
Removal of only the outer layer (hull) is the least damaging to the nutritional value of the rice and avoids the unnecessary loss of nutrients that occurs with further processing.

If the brown rice is further milled to remove the bran and most of the germ layer, the result is white rice that has lost many nutrients. The rice is still not polished, and the true white colour appears after the polishing. The polishing removes the aleurone layer of the grain-a layer filled with health-supportive fats. These fats in the aleurone layer are susceptible to oxidation when exposed to the air. Ultimately, what you get in the polished white rice is a ball of starch minus at least 11 nutrients and fat.

Brown Rice and diabetes
It is believed that people with diabetes should eat brown rice preferred to white rice. Though the brown rice is white within and has about the same Glycaemic Index (GI), the absorption may be slower and glucose 'spiking' in the blood may be less with cooked brown rice, not discussing the added advantages of the nutrients in brown rice. The outer layers slowly down the penetration of digestive enzymes into the starch part so that the release of the sugar into the bloodstream will be slow for brown rice in comparison with white rice.

While the exact reasons are unknown, a diet of foods that quickly release sugar into the bloodstream is associated with a greater risk of Type 2 diabetes. This makes the selection of food such as brown rice important in preventing this disease.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health have released a study showing that white rice consumption increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes while brown rice consumption actually reduces the risk.

Basmati and Doongara rice are healthiest for diabetics in preference to any other white or brown rice.

Basmati: This is available as brown or white rice. It is a variety of long grain rice, famous for its fragrance and delicate flavour. India and Pakistan are the largest cultivators and exporters. GI is 58. This would be the best rice, including Doongara rice (GI 54), a diabetic should eat, as all other rice other than long grain ones, have high GI over 70. The absorption of glucose from this specific rice is slower due to its high content of amylose. It is non-glutinous rice. In India it is grown at the foot of the Himalayan mountain ranges for centuries. The rivers Yamuna and Ganga feed the fields. It is literally translated from Hindi it means 'queen of the scents' or 'pearl of scents'. It is the world's best rice one can use for cooking, but for variety one uses jasmine and parboiled rice. It is best used in Pilaffs, Biryani, side dishes and as plain boiled white rice.

Manganese content in Brown Rice
Just one cup of brown rice will supply 88% of the daily requirement of manganese. This helps you to 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 manufacture sex hormone. Manganese is a component of a very important antioxidant enzyme which protects against damage from free radicals.

Selenium and Fibre in Brown Rice
Rich in Selenium and Fibre: Both these nutrients found in brown rice helps reduce the risk of colon cancer.

Cade JE, Burley VJ, et al., reported in the International Journal of Epidemiology, when 35,972 participants in a study when given a diet rich in fibre from whole grains, such as brown rice, and fruit offered significant protection against breast cancer for pre-menopausal women.
Lowering LDL cholesterol. The oil in whole brown rice lowers cholesterol. When Marlene Most and colleagues from Louisiana State University evaluated the effects of rice bran and rice bran oil on cholesterol levels in volunteers with moderately elevated cholesterol levels, they found that rice bran oil lowered their LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Whole Grain rice protects against childhood asthma. According to the American Lung Association, almost 20 million Americans suffer from asthma, which is reported to be responsible for over 14 million lost school days in children.

Increasing consumption of whole grain rice and fish could reduce the risk of childhood asthma by about 50%, suggests the International Study on Allergy and Asthma in Childhood (Tabak C, Wijga AH, Thorax)

Importance of Rice
Rice is one of the most important energy producing foods in the world, supplying as much as half of the daily calories for half of the world's population.

In Sri Lanka today the rice packets for sale on the way side, mainly purchased by the working class people would be the only food that supplies the calories for a hard day's work. There are over 8000 varieties of rice, though we are familiar just with a handful. Oftentimes, rice is categorized by its size as being short grain, medium grain or long grain. Short grain, which has the highest starch content, makes the stickiest rice (samba), while long grain (Doongara and Basmati), is lighter and tends to remain separate when cooked.

Wild rice: There are four species that make up the genus Zizania (common names: Canada rice, Indian rice, and water oats). It is grown in North America, Gulf coasts of the United States, Central Texas, and China. They are sold as a dried whole grain, is high in protein, the amino acid lysine and dietary fibre, and low fat. It is also a good source of the minerals potassium and phosphorus and the vitamin thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. It is fashionable today to serve wild rice mixed with brown or white rice cooked, especially when inviting guests.

Biryani; Lastly, I would like to make one comment when enjoying a biryani lunch with no guilt, by the diabetic patients. Due to the increased fat content in the preparation of biryani, the rate of absorption of sugar into the blood stream after being digested, is very slow, and thereby does not spike the level of blood glucose. Check your glucose-meter reading two hours after a fatty rice meal, you'll be surprised to note that the blood glucose level has not risen to expected high levels, as when eating normally cooked rice. Ice cream has the same effect on blood sugar level. This does not mean the author is recommending frequent biryani feasts followed up with ice cream!

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