Brown rice may reduce heart risks and ailments such as hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and stroke. Brown rice also combats cancer and diabetes, according to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and the Nueva Ecija Medical Society (NEMS).
The two entities have partnered to promote the nutritional and health benefits of brown rice.
Hazel Antonio, National Year of Rice (NYR 2013) campaign director, said the partnership of PhilRice with NEMS is significant step to help promote responsible rice consumption, including increasing Filipino uptake of brown rice.
Besides helping reduce diabetes, Antonio said increased brown rice consumption benefits the country’s rice industry because of its higher milling recovery.
On promoting brown rice, Dr. Edgar Mendoza, president of NEMS, said the partnership is one of the organization’s largest pro-patient moves that will enhance the awareness of the masses on prevention of major diseases.
“The promotion of brown rice in line with NYR 2013 is a good avenue for wise food choices not only for diabetic patients but also for the masses,” Mendoza said.
As partner, the NYR 2013 team have distributed brown rice, brown rice recipes, and NYR collaterals during the recent celebration of the diabetes awareness week campaign in this city.
PhilRice is also conducting an extensive research on brown and pigmented varieties of rice (black and red) to determine how these grains can help address malnutrition in the country, especially among marginalized groups.
Riza Ramos, head of the Rice Chemistry and Food Division of PhilRice, said the study on brown rice seeks to determine the additional vitamins (B vitamins), minerals (iron and zinc), and dietary fiber that can be made part of a person‘s diet.
Based on study, pigmented rice has antioxidants and phytonutrients that can prevent cancer.
It has also been used for strengthening kidney function, treating anemia, promoting blood circulation, removing blood stasis, and treating diabetes in traditional Chinese medicine.
The B-group vitamins are found in many foods but they are water soluble and delicate.
“This means that they are easily destroyed, particularly by alcohol intake and the cooking process. A person who has a poor diet for a few months may acquire B-group vitamin deficiency, so it is important that adequate amount of these vitamins are ingested regularly through a proper diet,” she said.
Ramos said the plant breeders of PhilRice are also developing iron-and zinc-dense rice.
A study by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute shows that the prevalence of zinc deficiency in the country was 21.6 percent and 20.6 percent, for infants and preschoolers, as well as female adolescents, respectively.
The prevalence among pregnant women was 21.5 percent. The elderly males have the highest prevalence at 33.6 percent, while it was 24.5 percent for elderly females.
She said PhilRice has also developed products with higher nutritional values like moringa-enriched rice crackers, bread with chilli pepper leaves, and lychee-flavored brownies.
Ramos said that vegetable-enriched rice products were developed to deliver for additional micronutrients such as beta-carotene (precursor of vitamin A and antioxidant), folate (a form of water-soluble B vitamin), and iron.
She said the PhilRice is also into feeding activities for school children, and conducting seminars on dietary fiber, and other health and nutritional concerns of Filipinos.