White rice has traditionally been popular in America compared to brown since it is fluffier and cooks faster.
It is in our best interest, however, to switch to brown rice and learn to love it. As truly a wonder food, it complements with a touch of elegance to any meal.
White rice has undergone a milling process in removing bran germ and nutrients. Brown rice on the other hand is fairly untouched and nutrient rich. Only the hard inedible outer hull is removed.
Commonly grown in water in order to prevent weeds and insects, rice is not usually contaminated by pesticides; and because of its low-allergy nature, it is one of the safest foods available.
It does contain moderate amounts of oxalate, and those with a history of calcium oxalate-containing kidney stones should limit their consumption.
There are more than 8,000 different types of rice categorized by size and by the method used to process it. The main types are long, medium, and short grain rices.
Sticky rice is produced by the high-starch short grain while long grain is generally less heavy and starchy. Medium grain rice is somewhere in between the two.
Jasmine is a variety of long-grain rice that is available in both brown and white. Basmatic is an aromatic rice with delicate flavor and light texture. Forbidden rice (aka black pearl rice) is a black-colored short grain rice that turns purple upon cooking.
Archaelogical evidence shows that as far back as 4,000 BC, Korea had been cultivating rice.
It was a crop confined in Asia up until it was introduced to the Greeks by Alexander the Great after his travels to India in the 4th century BC. Moorish conquerers took rice with them when they invaded Spain in the 700’s, the Spanish had introduced the Italians to rice, and the Crusaders were responsible for bringing rice back with them to France. Its popularity quickly spread throughout southern Europe.
In the 1600s, it was taken to Africa whose people introduced it to South Carolina when taken as slaves in the 1700’s. During the 1800’s, the Spanish took rice with them during their colonization of South America.
Today, America produces only 1% of the world’s rice as it allows Thailand, Viet Nam, and China to be the three greatest producers and exporters of rice.
“Cutting stalks at noon time
Perspiration drips to the earth
Know you that your bowl of rice
Each grain from hardship comes?”
Brown rice contains vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B6 as well as manganese, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, selenium (induces DNA repair and synthesis in damaged cells and inhibits the proliferation of cancer cells) as well as essential trace minerals, protein, and fiber. One cup of brown rice has 3 1/2 grams of fiber while the same amount of white rice has less than one gram of fiber.
Brown rice includes gamma-oryzanol, an extract that has been used to treat stress, digestive, and menopausal problems as well as cholesterol since it seems to help raise blood levels of nitric oxide known to improve blood vessel dilation and prevent development of atherosclerotic plaques. More studies are being conducted in these areas.
According to the USA Rice Federation, the more exotic wild rice is even richer in protein and iron than brown rice.
Zucchini and Wild Rice Pancakes
Wild Rice Broccoli Pilaf
Wild Rice with Vegetables
Zucchini with Wild Rice Stuffing