4 Lesser Known But Impressive Benefits of Brown Rice

There are thousands of rice varieties and cultivars all over the world, with it being a staple food for more than 50 percent of the global population. However, not all rice is created equal in terms of their nutrition profiles. In fact, the most popular type of rice -- white rice --  is the least nutritious because it undergoes the most processing. Brown rice, on the other hand, is much healthier simply because it is a whole grain.

As such, brown rice is a good source of dietary fiber. It is also rich in various vitamins and minerals like magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, niacin (vitamin B3), thiamin (vitamin B1), and vitamin B6. What’s more, brown rice is also low in calories, high in healthy carbohydrates, and is naturally gluten-free.

But these are the common nutritional benefits of brown rice that probably everyone already knows. To further help convince you to make the switch to brown rice, here are other lesser known but no less impressive health benefits of this humble whole grain.
It Can Help You Sleep Better

There are many reasons behind sleeplessness, one of them being the low levels of melatonin, a hormone that helps promote a deep and restful sleep. Brown rice is a natural source of melatonin as well as B-vitamins which also help regulate the body’s sleep cycle. If you’d rather not eat something heavy at night, try drinking a glass of Elmhurst’s milked brown rice before you go to sleep. Remember to turn off the lights and reduce or completely eliminate the use of gadgets before going to bed, because the brain produces more melatonin when it’s dark.

It Can Help Keep Your Nervous System Healthy

Brown rice is a good source of B-vitamins and an excellent source of manganese (88 percent of the recommended daily value of the mineral in just one cup!). These nutrients are important in preserving the health of the entire nervous system, since they act as gatekeepers for calcium ions. When there is an excess of calcium ions, the nerves can become over-stimulated and can lead to spasms, insomnia, palpitations, and other health problems.

Brown rice can also help defend the body against neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. This is due to the grain’s GABA content. Simply explained, GABA is a compound that helps “calm down” nervous activity in the brain, helping a person feel more relaxed. The neurons are also less stressed, so they are healthier in the long run. GABA also helps boost the body’s natural antioxidant molecules, further protecting the cells from damage.

It Can Help With Depression and Anxiety

In the same way that it can help with neurodegenerative diseases, brown rice has also been studied for its potential to manage symptoms of depression and anxiety. This is largely thanks to the presence of GABA and the amino acids glycerin and glutamine, which play key roles in helping the brain “relax,” so to speak. One of the main causes of depression is the insufficient amount of serotonin, while anxiety is often tied to mental over-excitation; both of these situations can be addressed with the help of the nutrients present in brown rice.

It Can Help Reduce Risks of Cancer

Because of its high dietary fiber content, brown rice can help drastically reduce the risk of colon cancer. Brown rice also contains manganese, which helps protect the body from free radicals. Free radicals are well-known cancer-causing agents. Another valuable nutrient in fighting cancer is selenium, which brown rice also contains in abundance. Selenium helps break down toxins in the body and is a big contributor to DNA repair, which in turn inhibits the growth and spread of cancer cells. Some research has suggested that people with high concentrations of selenium in their blood have lower risks of developing prostate cancer. Other studies have also linked brown rice to a reduced risk of breast cancer.

You might not like brown rice due to its taste and texture, or maybe because it’s a little more difficult to cook it just right compared to white rice. But there really is no other way around it: brown rice is good for you and it’s about time to include more of it in your diet. Your body will thank you for it!

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