Rice is a grain with many medicinal applications. As the most widely consumed grain on earth, it is used to fight diarrhea, relieve constipation, reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol level, and aid weight loss. As a staple food for over half the world’s population, rice provides 20% of worlds dietary energy supply. It is closely followed by wheat, which supplies 19%.
Botanical name: Oryza sativa
Rice is the grain of the rice plant, Oryza sativa, which belongs to the botanical family Poaceae. Today, rice is the most cultivated grain in the whole world, and most of its production comes from tropical regions of China, India, Indonesia and Bangladesh. Rice in these countries is an essential part of a diet.
In terms of nutrient per 100 grams, cooked, unsalted long-grain rice contains no micronutrient in significant amounts, with all less than 10% of the daily value. It contains 28.1 g carbohydrates, which are mainly in the form of starch. Proteins are present in 2.69 g. Among all grains, rice is the lowest in protein. The proteins in rice are deficient in some essential amino acids such as lysine and tryptophan, reason why it is advisable to combine rice with legumes since they tend to contain abundant essential amino amino acids. Through this combination, the deficient essential amino acids in rice will be supplemented by those in the legume in order to complete the proteins. Moreover, rice contains no gliadin, a reason why it is appropriate for those with celiac disease.
When it comes to vitamins and minerals, cooked rice contains moderate amounts of vitamin B6, phosphorus, and magnesium. Whole-grain rice contains significant amounts of vitamin B1 and E. This is not the case with white rice, as it contains very little amount of vitamins. This is the reason why the consumption of whole-grain or parboiled rice is recommended over white rice. Whole-grain rice contains significant amounts of vitamin B1, B2, B6, E and even Niacin. Rice contains no vitamin C and vitamin A, which is the case with all other grains.
Rice is a food that may seem poor in terms of nutrients. However, it still possess great medicinal values despite its deficiency in various essential nutrients. Continue reading to catch a glimpse of some of its therapeutic indications.
Here’s a quick list of some benefits and medicinal uses rice:
- Fights diarrhea
- Relieves constipation
- Reduces cholesterol
- Fights hypertension
- Good for the obese
- Good for people with excess uric acid
- Prevents heart diseases
- Prevents cancer
- A good energy source
Rice is effective in stopping diarrhea. Its astringent effect as well as its ease of digestion makes it a special food for the recovering of the intestinal mucosa after colitis. In using rice for treatment of diarrhea, a boiled rice with little oil and salt mixed with apple is recommended. For infants, after any diarrhea, rice water is recommended.
Rice water can be prepared by boiling rice in water until it begins to break into pieces. The rice is then filtered off, and the resulting liquid is the rice water, which can be flavoured by adding little lemon for a better taste. It should be given to infants as the only liquid after diarrhea for a great oral re-hydration. The rice water provides starch and potassium which helps stops diarrhea.
As already known, some biliary acids are used by the liver to produce cholesterol. Thankfully, the fiber present in whole-grain rice stops the absorption of these biliary acids in the intestine. Also, rice contains virtually no fat and cholesterol.
A research carried out by Jerzy Zawistowski and his colleagues, found extracts from black rice to reduce the level of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triacylglycerol in hypercholesterolemic laboratory rats. Although this research was carried out on animals, it still showed some promising results, as regard to the cholesterol-lowering activity of rice.
The consumption of rice is recommended in cases of hypertension because of its very low or no sodium content. As a matter of fact, sodium is a mineral with great fluid retention capacity, which when in excess causes the body to retain fluid, thus, increasing blood volume and consequently its pressure.
Its a simple law, the higher the sodium intake the higher the risk of hypertension, and the lower the sodium intake the lower the risk of hypertension. Hypertension is one disease that increases your chances of developing heart diseases. And one way you can prevent it, is by limiting the amounts of sodium you consume. Simple!
The obese may find rice consumption to aid them in losing weight. Worth mentioning again is the low to no content of fat, cholesterol, and sodium in rice, all of which are of great benefit to the obese. According to American Heart Association, obesity is simply defined as too much body fat. Too much fat in the body means higher blood cholesterol and more risk for heart diseases.
As an obese, you must avoid consumption of fat. And rice is one food you can add to your diet which has virtually no fat.
Excess uric acid
In cases of excess uric acid in the blood which usually manifest as gout or arthritis, the consumption of rice is recommended since it contains very low amount of proteins, and possess a great alkalizing effect.
Rice is considered by many to be good for cardiac health because it contains little or no sodium. When there is a cardiac failure, fluids are retained in the tissues and the kidney does not eliminate enough urine. Thus, the consumption of foods rich in sodium are not recommended at all since they will only cause the retention of even more fluid. That is why only foods with little or no sodium content are recommended.
You should also remember that rice contains virtually no fat. Sodium, along with fat are the 2 most antagonistic substances to the heart. Excess fats can clump in our arteries to block blood flow to vital organs such as the heart and brain, which can eventually lead to conditions like heart attack and stroke.
Moreover, rice bran oil has been found to have some antioxidant properties, which improves cardiovascular health by lowering the level of cholesterol in our body. Overall, it is the lack of sodium, presence of fiber, and bran oil that acts to improve cardiovascular health. Unfortunately, the white rice we mostly consume lacks this fiber and bran oil we are talking about. During the course of preparation, the husk is removed; and this is where most of the nutrients reside. This makes wild and brown rice far better in this aspect than white rice.
Lately, there have been some concerns around the world, especially in the United States, that rice may be linked to the development of certain types of cancers, due to the arsenic content found in them. This controversy ignited a research by Ran Zhang and his colleagues in 2016. They evaluated the relationship between rice consumption and cancer incidence in US men and women. At the end of their study, they found no association between long-term consumption of both white and brown rice with the development of cancer in some US citizens.
Whole grain rice like brown rice, contains significant amounts of fiber which has been shown to protect against numerous types of cancers such as colorectal cancer. This whole grain rice also contain antioxidants, which fight free radicals and prevent them from initiating cancerous growths.
There are not so many researches that have evaluated the anti-cancer effects of rice. In 2017, a research was published in Biomed Research International Journal, which reviewed the anti-cancer properties of waste products from rice milling such as the husk. You might want to have a look, here.
Great Energy source
Cooked, unsalted, long-grain white rice provides up to 130 kcal of energy per 100 grams. When consumed, rice provides great amounts of energy, which is necessary for proper body functioning. Rice consumption is especially beneficial to those just recovering from debilitating diseases that have weakened their entire system.