The word is out: Rice is a healthy food, and more and more Americans are using rice in their diet. Market analysis shows that Americans are consuming twice as much rice as they did in the past. This is attributed to our increased awareness about the nutritional value of rice.
Rice is said to be the most consumed cereal grain grown on the planet; two thirds of the world’s population eat rice as their staple food. Rice is also the third largest food crop that’s produced. The biggest exporters of rice are Thailand, exporting approximately 7.6 million tons per year; Viet Nam, exporting 3.7 million tons per year and the United States, exporting 2.6 million tons per year, according to a report by the International Year of Rice 2004.
Rice is a significant food that improves some health conditions. It is easily digested and absorbed into the body. According to Organic Facts, “rice helps to relieve indigestion and nausea, diarrhea and dysentery as well as some skin disorders and high blood pressure.” Also according to RiceMilk.com, rice also contains b-sitosterol, a natural substance that lowers blood cholesterol levels.
There are over 140,000 varieties of rice; the common categories of rice are long grain, medium grain and short grain. Short grain rice sticks together when cooked, while long grain rice stays separated. There is also brown rice, in which only the husk is removed, and white rice, which has been stripped of much of its nutritional value during the milling process, which removes the bran and germ as well. Brown rice therefore retains more of its nutritional value.
Rice is an important source of complex carbohydrates, which provide energy to the body and fuel for the brain. According to RiceTrade.com, rice provides vitamins including riboflavin, thiamine and niacin. Rice also contains iron, vitamin D and calcium. It contains no cholesterol or gluten and has no additives or preservatives. Rice contains eight amino acids which makes it a good source of protein.
According to a 2008 article written by Stacy Kish of the U.S. Department of Agriculture entitled “Scientists Unlock the Key to Rice Nutrition,” new research funded by the USDA may allow scientists to improve the nutritional value of rice in order to positively affect the health of more than 70 million of the world’s poorest people in developing countries.