Harvest Time

Know more about the rice you eat: 1

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By Dr. Sosimo Ma. Pablico

EVERYTIME rice is served on the dining table, we know for sure that it is our source of energy. Unfortunately, while every Filipino consumes an average of 303 grams of rice daily, many of us are not aware that rice is much more than a source of energy.

Dr. Marissa V. Romero, chief of the Rice Chemistry and Food Science Division in PhilRice [Philippine Rice Research Institute], says that in addition to the energy we get from cooked rice, there are a lot of things for us to know about the rice we eat.

She begins her pontification by saying that four products are produced when rough rice or palay is milled or processed. These are brown rice, well milled white rice, rice hulls, and rice bran. Rice starch and rice flour can be produced from milled rice, which used to be the only portion of rice that was consumed daily by most Filipinos.

Lately, PhilRice food scientists have found rice bran as an excellent source of nutritious cooking oil. This oil contains natural antioxidants like oryzanol amd tocotrienol, as well as inhibits platelet segregation and may prevent cardiovascular diseases.

Oryzanol reduces bad cholesterol without reducing good cholesterol, while tocotrienol, the most powerful vitamin E, produces anti-cancer effects.

Taken in the right amount and the right way, rice provides the human body with macronutrients and micronutrients that keep us healthy to lead a socially and economically productive life, as well as to respond to challenges and stresses without diseases, says Dr. Romero.

It should be noted that the three leading causes of death related to rice consumption in the

Philippines are cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and diabetes. In year 2000 alone, cardiovascular diseases affected roughly 8.6 million Filipinos. One out of every 1,800 Filipinos is affected with cancer annually. In Asia, the Philippines has the highest reported incidence of breast cancer. Diabetes affects one out of every 25 Filipinos or 3.4 million today.

Rice provides four important macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein, dietary fiber, and lipids.

Carbohydrates serve as fuel for the human, as it provides energy, while protein provides amino acids that build and maintain body tissues. Also a source of energy, protein is composed of enzymes, hormones, and antibodies.

Dietary fiber helps promote proper bowel function, and reduces the risk of developing intestinal disorders. Lipids are also sources of energy; they aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.

The B vitamins, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, and zinc comprise the micronutrients in rice.

The B vitamins are vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), and vitamin B9 (folic acid or simply folate).

Vitamin B1 or thiamin was discovered in 1910 when a Japanese scientist was studying how rice bran cures beri-beri patients. Thiamin is found in the outer layers of the rice grain as well as in its germ and, hence, whole cereal grains are richer than well milled rice or refined grains. Take note: 25 รป 50 milligrams (mg) of thiamin, taken three times a day, is effective in reducing mosquito bites.

Flavoproteins contain nucleic acid derivatives of vitamin B2 or riboflavin. These proteins are involved in the removal of radicals contributing to oxidative stress, DNA repair, and apropos. Oxidation is implicated in human diseases like cancer, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and diabetes. It also causes aging. Almost 24 percent of the total riboflavin intake of Filipinos comes from rice.

With rice and rice products as the biggest contributor, the average Filipino diet has enough vitamin B3 or niacin. As long as the amino acid tryptophan is sufficient, niacin requirement is met, as the liver can synthesize niacin. One milligram (mg) of niacin requires 16 mg of tryptophan.

Folate got its name from the Latin word folium, which means leaf. The dark skin of people in the tropics partly evolved from the need to protect folic acid from ultraviolet light. On the average, every Filipino takes in 382 micrograms (ug) of folate daily, which is not enough to meet our daily requirement. Adults normally need 400 ug, while children have lower requirement. Pregnant women require 600 ug daily, while lactating women need 500 ug. (To be continued)

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