Archeologists believe that rice has been farmed for nearly 10,000. First cultivated in China, it is a staple for about half the population and has fed millions in Asia, ancient Greece, India, Spain, France and South America, and people throughout the world continue to enjoy it today. In fact, it accounts for about half the calories consumed by half the population and is often used in many different dishes in the United States.
While we may be more familiar with white rice, brown rice may be a better choice nutritionally. Rice is a grain with several layers. The hull is the outermost layer, and beneath that are the bran and germ layers. The bran and germ are rich in nutrients but are removed when the rice is processed. When brown rice becomes white rice large quantities of B vitamins including 90 percent of the b6 is lost as well as all of the dietary fiber, half the manganese and phosphorus and more than half the iron. Additionally, all of the essential fatty acids are lost. After the white rice has been processed, vitamins and iron are added back into it, but they may not be as bioavailable as the nutrients that were removed. White rice may have a longer shelf-life, but it is significantly lower in nutritional value.
Brown rice is not milled and processed the way that white rice is, and only the hull of the rice kernel is removed, leaving most nutrition value intact. Brown rice is good source of magnesium, phosphorus, selenium thiamin, niacin and vitamin B6. It is also high in fiber, which can help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce high cholesterol levels, and it is rich in phytonutrients at levels similar to those in vegetables and fruits.
Getting more brown rice into your diet can be as easy as simply using it instead of white rice. You may need to cook it slightly longer to reach the desired tenderness. The rice will have a rich, nutty flavor that adds appeal to many different dishes, including pilafs, casseroles and soups. Store it in the refrigerator to lengthen its shelf life.