Rice is believed to have been first cultivated in China around 6,000 years ago.
For the majority of its long history, rice was a staple only in Asia. Not until Arab travelers introduced rice into ancient Greece, and Alexander the Great brought it to India, did rice find its way to other corners of the world.
Subsequently, the Moors brought rice to Spain in the 8th century during their conquests. Rice was introduced into South America in the 17th century by the Spanish during their colonization of this continent.
The majority of the world’s rice is grown in Asia, where it plays an incredibly important role in their food culture. Thailand, Vietnam and China are the three largest exporters of rice.
There is an abundance of different types of rice—over 8,000 varieties.
Rice, is normally grown as an annual plant, although in tropical areas it can survive as a perennial and can produce a ratoon crop for up to 30 years. The rice plant can grow to 1–1.8 m (3.3–5.9 ft) tall, occasionally more depending on the variety and soil fertility. It has long, slender leaves 50–100 cm (20–39 in) long and 2–2.5 cm (0.79–0.98 in) broad. The small wind-pollinated flowers are produced in a branched arching to pendulous inflorescence 30–50 cm (12–20 in) long. The edible seed is a grain 5–12 mm (0.20–0.47 in) long and 2–3 mm (0.079–0.118 in) thick.
Brown rice is chewier as compared to white rice and has a nutty flavor.
Brown rice is an excellent source of the trace mineral manganese, and a good source of selenium, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, and niacin.
Health benefits of brown rice include better functioning of cardiovascular system, digestive system, brain and nervous system. It is loaded with powerful antioxidants which provide relief from a range of ailments such as hypertension, unhealthy levels of cholesterol, stress, mental depression and skin disorders. High nutritional content in brown rice proves effective in various medical conditions such as cancer, obesity, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders and insomnia. It has anti-depressant properties and helps maintain healthy bones and stronger immune system.
Baby Food – Brown rice cereal or brown rice itself is the perfect baby’s first food due to the dense natural nutrition and fiber it contains. This is a much better choice than refined white rice cereal products as rapidly growing babies and toddlers require nutrient rich diets to help maintain rapid growth cycles.
Bone Health – Brown rice is a good source of magnesium, a mineral that is essential to bone health. Just one cup of brown rice contains 21 percent of the recommended daily value of magnesium. Most of the magnesium in the body is stored on or in the bones, so to keep a high level of magnesium in your bones, and to reap the other health benefits, eat plenty of brown rice each week.
Candida Yeast Infections – Brown rice is the perfect adjunct for candida yeast infection treatments given that high glycemic and otherwise sugary/starchy foods are prohibited during most candida treatment protocols. The natural digestibility of brown rice coupled with the high fiber content can help sensitive digestive systems heal from an overgrowth of candida organisms.
Cardiovascular Benefits – Studies have shown that brown rice can have many cardiovascular benefits for postmenopausal women, including slowing the progression of atherosclerosis, which is the build-up of plaque in the arteries, as well as slowing the progression of the narrowing of the arteries. But postmenopausal women aren’t the only ones who can benefit from the heart-healthy compounds in this whole grain. Brown rice also contains plant lignans, which can protect against heart disease and certain types of cancer.
Childhood Asthma – Asthma is a very common condition among children and causes many children to miss numerous days of school. But children who eat plenty of whole grains along with fish can lower their risk of developing asthma by 50 percent.
Cholesterol – The oil in brown rice has been shown to lower levels of LDL cholesterol, also known as the bad cholesterol, by up to seven percent. At the same time, a diet high in whole grains can increase the level of the good cholesterol HDL.
High in Fiber – Brown rice is high in fiber and on top of the list for foods that can help prevent colon cancer. This can be attributed to the high levels of fiber naturally contained in brown rice. These fibers attach to substances that cause cancer as well as to toxins in the body, thus eliminating them and keeping them from attaching to the colon wall.
Releases Sugar Slowly – Brown rice helps stabilize blood sugar levels; therefore, it’s an excellent food choice for those suffering from diabetes. Studies show that those who consume one half cup of brown rice daily reduce their risks of developing diabetes by 60%. On the other hand, those who consume white rice regularly increase their chances of developing diabetes one hundred-fold.
Weight Loss – The fiber content of brown rice keeps bowel function at it’s peak since it makes digestion that much easier. Brown rice is the perfect addition to the daily diet for those seeking bowel regularity. In addition, brown rice also makes the tummy feel full which translates to smaller meal portions.
HOW TO SELECT AND STORE
Rice is available prepackaged as well as in bulk containers. If purchasing brown rice in a packaged container, check to see if there is a “use-by” date on the package since brown rice, owing to its natural oils, has the potential to become rancid if kept too long.
Research recently published suggests that some non-organic U.S. long grain rice may have 1.4 to 5 times more arsenic than rice from Europe, India or Bangladesh. For this reason, select organically grown rice whenever possible.
Just as with any other food that you may purchase in the bulk section, make sure that the bins containing the rice are covered and that the store has a good product turnover so as to ensure its maximal freshness. Whether purchasing rice in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure that there is no evidence of moisture.
Since brown rice still features an oil-rich germ, it is more susceptible to becoming rancid than white rice and therefore should be stored in the refrigerator. Stored in an airtight container, brown rice will keep fresh for about six months.
The storage of cooked rice should be in the refrigerator in a tight sealed container for not more than 4 days.
TIPS FOR PREPARING
Brown rice takes longer cooking time and requires more water because of its outer fiber coating. For one cup rice, you may use two and a half to three cups of water. Prior soaking of brown rice cuts down the cooking time. Soaked brown rice would take about 35-40 minutes to get ready.
Like all grains, before cooking rice, especially that which is sold in bulk, rinse it thoroughly under running water and then remove any dirt or debris that you may find. After rinsing brown rice, add one part rice to two parts boiling water or broth. After the liquid has returned to a boil, turn down the heat, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes.
HOW TO ENJOY
- Heat up cooked rice with any nut milk. Add in cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins and honey for a delicious rice pudding.
- Make homemade vegetable burger.
- Use rice leftovers for cold rice salads that are great for on-the-go lunches.
- For a simple yet delicious lunch or dinner entrée, serve beans and rice accompanied by the vegetables of your choice.
- Rollup some delicious rice balls with your favorite ingredients.
- Make a vegetable casserole with your favorite vegetables.
- A quiche made with rice and asparagus tastes delicious.