Rice is one of my favourite dishes! Yes, I enjoy eating rice and I can confidently vouch that almost 85 percent of the world’s population are already on my bandwagon. I don’t know about you though,  :D  but if rice is part of your bread and butter, then you can equally support me on this note that rice dishes are so delectable and ever tempting to eat. Being one of the most consumed grains in the world, the burning question is what other benefits can we derive from this nature's gift to us?
Another concern is that several studies are clamouring for the consumption of mainly brown rice but most people seem so reluctant to adhere to this clarion call. Despite the increasing awareness to consume more brown rice than its white counterpart, I still cannot get around eating brown rice. I attribute this to the tastelessness of brown rice after being cooked and the longer duration it takes to be cooked. Well, I hope to improve one day but for now, let me just continue enjoying my assorted tasty rice dishes while they last.
Nevertheless, always bear it in mind that brown rice is more nutritious and highly medicinal than its white counterpart. So the decision is in your hands to choose the specific type of rice to include in your diet. With the aforementioned, let us now go through what this grain is all about as well as what our bodies stand to gain or lose from its consumption.
Rice is an annual or perennial monocotyledonous plant that is botanically known as Oryza. It is the most popular cereal that is originally from Africa and Asia before spreading to other parts of the world. The main species are Oryza glaberrima (African species), Oryza sativa (Asian species) and wild rice (Australia species).
Rice plant grows between 1 to 1.8 meters in height and bears slender leaves that measure between 50 to 100 centimetres long and 2 to 2.5 centimetres broad. The edible grain measures between 5 to 12 millimetres long and 2 to 3 millimetres thick. Rice can be short-grained, medium or long-grained depending on the species.
It thrives best in a swampy area thus can be cultivated by flooding the fields or through the irrigation system of farming. Rice bran is the cuticle found between the rice and husk of the paddy, which comprises of the embryo and the endosperm of the seeds. It is a rice byproduct obtained during polishing of rice after the paddy has been dehusked.
Nutritional Values of Rice
Rice is an excellent source of essential nutrients and vitamins such as carbohydrates, protein, iron, dietary fibre, potassium, zinc, manganese, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5) and vitamin B6.
Rice bran is a rich constituent of linolenic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, tocotrienol, oleic acid, phytosterols, tocopherol and gamma oryzanol. It also contains anti-nutrients such as phytate, lipase and trypsin inhibitors.
Furthermore, Bhat and Riar (2015) reported that traditional cultivars of rice exhibit higher nutritive value than the hybrid rice cultivars. This is attributed to the fact that traditional cultivars contain a higher amount of oryzanol, which prevents the body from building up the cholesterol levels, unlike the hybrids. Rice is an essential source of energy and fuel for facilitating the body’s vital functionings. Interestingly, rice is gluten-free thus an excellent alternative for individuals suffering from celiac diseases.

14 Outstanding Benefits of Rice (Oryza)

Culinary Purposes
Rice is a popular staple food thus can be used for producing rice starch, rice flour, rice husks, rice vinegar, rice straw, rice bran, rice milk, rice paper, red yeast rice, rice soy milk, rice cakes (mochi), rice pudding and rice glue. Rice can be cooked plain and eaten together with stew, vegetables or sauces or it can be cooked as fried rice.
Shrimp Rice Shrimp Rice

Rice can also be served as dessert when paired with sugar/milk or can be eaten together with dishes such as fish, soups, chicken, eggs and desserts. It can be stuffed or wrapped in grape leaves (dolma) and can also be used for preparing congee (rice porridge), beetroot fried rice, Italian risotto, shrimp rice, Spanish arròs negre or zongzi or zong (rice dumpling). Rice flour can be used for baking bread, noodles, cookies, cakes, snacks and croquant rice.
Rice Dumpling (Zongzi or zong) Rice Dumpling

Medicinal Uses of Traditional Rice
According to Bhat and Riar (2015), traditional rice cultivars are used in Ayurveda for treating several types of diseases such as; skin blemishes, body inflammation, swellings, boils, wounds, voice hoarseness and hot body temperature.
Sticky glutinous rice is effective for treating indigestion, stomach upsets, heartburn and nausea. Brown rice extracts can be used for treating jaundice, warts, chronic gastritis, dysentery, malnutrition, stomach cancer and poor lactation. The extract can also be consumed as an energy drink.
Reduction of Cardiovascular Risk Factors
Kazemzadeh et al., (2014) compared the effects of white rice (WR) and brown rice (BR) on inflammatory marker high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) and cardiovascular risk factors among non-menopausal overweight or obese female. In this randomized cross-over clinical trial, they randomly allocated 40 overweight or obese (body mass index (BMI) >25) women to group 1 (made up of 20 women). These women were treated with brown rice diet. Group 2 also consisted of 20 women that were treated with white rice diet for a period of 6 weeks (first intervention period).
At the end of the trial, the cardiovascular risk factors including body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, fasting blood glucose (FBG), waist and hip circumference, hs-CRP and serum lipid profiles were measured four times. The results showed that brown rice diet in comparison with white rice diet can significantly reduce weight, BMI, diastolic blood pressure, hs-CRP and waist and hip circumference. However, there were no significant differences recorded between the two diets as per the fasting blood glucose and lipid profiles. Therefore brown rice diet is recommended for reduction of inflammatory marker level and several cardiovascular risk factors especially among non-menopausal overweight or obese women.
Antioxidant Properties
Oxidative stress in diabetic patients can be increased by the intake of white rice. Although brown rice (BR) and germinated brown rice (GBR) have been reported to contain high antioxidant properties due to their rich bioactive compounds, studies of their effects on oxidative stress-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes were unavailable as at the time that Imam et al., (2012) carried out this study.
As a result, these researchers hypothesized that if brown rice and germinated brown rice were to improve antioxidant status, then these rice varieties would be preferable for rice consumers instead of the popular white rice that is known to promote oxidative stress. They studied the effects of germinated brown rice on the antioxidant status of type 2 diabetic rats, which was induced by a high-fat diet and streptozotocin injection.
The effects of white rice, brown rice and germinated brown rice on catalase and superoxide dismutase genes were evaluated. The brown rice and germinated brown rice improved the glycemia and kidney hydroxyl radical scavenging activities as well as prevented the deterioration of total antioxidant status in type 2 diabetic rats.
Also, the germinated brown rice preserved the liver enzymes and the serum creatinine. The results suggest that white rice consumption can intensify the antioxidant status thus leading to more damage by free radicals. On the contrary, brown rice and germinated brown rice reduces oxidative stress thus highly recommended for consumption.
Control of Diabetes mellitus
Qureshi et al., (2002) treated stabilized rice bran (SRB) and polyphenols with heat and carbohydrases to yield two fractions namely; rice bran water solubles (RBWS) and rice bran fibre concentrate (RBFC). For a period of 60 days, this stabilized rice bran with its fractions were fed to insulin-dependent and noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM = Type I and NIDDM = Type II) subjects to ascertain the possible effects on serum haemoglobin, carbohydrate and lipid parameters.
The results of their experiment showed that rice bran water solubles significantly reduced hyperglycemia while rice bran fibre concentrates reduced hyperlipidemia in both types of diabetes. Thus, these natural products can serve as nutritional supplements for controlling both types of diabetes mellitus in humans. Furthermore, Panlasigui and Thompson (2006) reported that brown rice is a healthy diet for diabetics and hyperglycemic individuals, unlike the milled rice.
This is because brown rice contains a higher amount of phytic acid, dietary fibre and polyphenols. Therefore it is important for diabetic patients to consume more brown rice than white rice, which contains low levels of glycemic index.
Treatment of Skin Inflammation
According to Umadevi et al., (2012), rice can be blended into a poultice for external application on the skin. Rice flour can be dusted on the skin surface to initiate a cooling and soothing effect in cases of skin inflammation, rashes, smallpox, burns, measles, scalds and prickly heat. Rice powder reduces skin irritation, inflammation and heat thus should be thickly applied on any affected part of the skin for optimum results.
Reduces the Cholesterol Level
Most et al., (2005) examined the effects of defatted rice bran and rice bran oil in an average American diet on blood lipids in moderately hypercholesterolemic persons.
The results of the experiment showed that rice bran oil and not the fibre, reduces cholesterol level in healthy, moderately hypercholesterolemic adults.
Anti-diarrheal Properties
Messaï et al., (2014) evaluated the anti-diarrheal properties of rice water as an adjuvant treatment in experimental infection with Eimeria tenella. The results from the experiment showed that within the infected groups, only the experimental animals treated with rice water showed a better weight gain and quick recovery. These researchers recommended that if affected animals are treated with rice water and anticoccidial drugs, then the coccidial infestation can be stopped with further animal losses stopped.
Cancer Chemopreventive Effects
Verschoyle et al., (2007) reported that rice bran has cancer chemopreventive effects especially in individuals suffering from intestinal polyps. Brown rice contains high quantities of insoluble fibre that protects the body against cancer attack.
Rice plantation Rice plantation

Sun Protection
Rice contains oryzanol that can act as a protective agent against ultraviolet light caused by lipid peroxidation. Rice is a powerful ingredient for producing sunscreen agent and it can offer protection against skin ageing.
Beer Production
Brewer’s rice, which is made up of rice germ, rice bran and broken rice are mostly brewed for beer production.
Hair Treatment
The ferulic acid and its esters found in gamma oryzanol of rice are essential for stimulating hair growth.
Animal Feed
Rice by-products such as rice bran, broken rice, rice husk and even rice leaves can serve as animal feeds.
Other Uses of Rice Husks
According to Kumar et al., (2012), rice husk can be;
Used as an industrial raw material for producing plastic fillers, panel board, insulating board, filling material, activated carbon (effective adsorbents) and building materials.
Used as a raw material for producing furfural, xylitol, lingo sulphonic acids, acetic acid and ethanol.
Used as a polishing or cleaning agent in a manufacturing and metal/machine industry.
This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnostic and treatments. Remember to always consult your healthcare provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.
1] Bhat, F. M. and Riar, C. S. (2015), Health Benefits of Traditional Rice Varieties of Temperate Regions, Medicinal & Aromatic Plants, 4:3, pp. 1-3.
2] Esa, N. M., Ling, T. B. and Peng, L. S. (2013), By-products of Rice Processing: An Overview of Health Benefits and Applications, Rice Research: Open Access, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp. 1-11.
3] Imam, M. U., Musa, S. N. A., Azmi, N. H. and Ismail, M. (2012), Effects of White Rice, Brown Rice and Germinated Brown Rice on Antioxidant Status of Type 2 Diabetic Rats, Int. J. Mol. Science, 13(10), 12952-12969; doi:10.3390/ijms131012952
4] Kazemzadeh, M., Safavi, S. M., Nematollahi, S. and Nourieh, Z. (2014), Effect of Brown Rice Consumption on Inflammatory Marker and Cardiovascular Risk Factors among Overweight and Obese Non-menopausal Female Adults, International Journal of Preventive Medicine, 5(4): pp. 478–488.
5] Kaur, H., Kaur, N., Bedi, O. and Kaur, M. (2015), Therapeutic uses of rice bran and its components, International Journal of Pharmacognosy, Vol. 2(5), pp. 229-233.
6] Kumar, A., Mohanta, K., Kumar, D. and Parkash, O. (2012), Properties and Industrial Applications of Rice husk: A review, International Journal of Emerging Technology and Advanced Engineering Website: www.ijetae.com (ISSN 2250-2459, Volume 2, Issue 10, pp.86-89.
7] Messaï, A., Bensegueni, A., Redouane-Salah, S. and Abdeldjelil M. (2014), Effects Of Rice Water (Oryza sativa) As An Adjuvant Treatment of Coccidiosis, International Journal for Agro Veterinary and Medical Sciences, 8(2): 41-46.
8] Most M. M., Tulley R., Morales S. and Lefevre M. (2005), Rice bran oil, not fiber, lowers cholesterol in humans, American Journal of Clin Nutr. 81(1), pp.64-8.
9] Panlasigui, L. N. and Thompson, L. U. (2006), Blood glucose lowering effects of brown rice in normal and diabetic subjects, International Journal Food Sci Nutr., 57(3-4), pp.151-8.
10] Pixabay (2017), Images from pixabay.
11] Qureshi A. A., Sami S. A. and Khan F. A. (2002), Effects of stabilized rice bran, its soluble and fiber fractions on blood glucose levels and serum lipid parameters in humans with diabetes mellitus Types I and II, Journal of Nutr Biochem. 13(3), pp. 175-187.
12] Raghav, P. K., Agarwal, N. and Sharma, A. (2016), Emerging health benefits of rice bran - A review, International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research and Modern Education (IJMRME), Volume II, Issue I, pp. 367-376.
13] Umadevi, M., Pushpa, R., Sampathkumar, K. P. and Bhowmik, D. (2012), Rice-Traditional Medicinal Plant in India, Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 6-9.
14] Verschoyle R. D., Greaves P., Cai H., Edwards R. E., Steward W. P. and Gescher A. J. (2007), Evaluation of the cancer chemopreventive efficacy of rice bran in genetic mouse models of breast, prostate and intestinal carcinogenesis, British Journal of Cancer, 96, pp. 248-254.

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