PhilRice conducts research on how brown, pigmented rice can help solve malnutrition

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The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is 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.

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Riza Ramos, head of the Rice Chemistry and Food Division of PhilRice, said that the study on brown rice is being conducted to determine what are 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 vitamins 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 (FNRI) 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 chili pepper leaves, and brownies with lees flavor.

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.

Henry Mamucod, over-all in-charge of the Nutrition Month celebration, said that feeding activities were scheduled on July 26 in elementary schools here.

Mamucod said the schools were identified by the city`s Department of Education as having the most undernourished children in the province.

Likewise, Ramos said there will be a seminar on dietary fiber and other health and nutritional concerns of Filipinos by food and nutrition on July 30.

“These efforts are all to help address malnutrition- over or under- in many forms or types,” she added. PNA

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