Harvest Time

The many benefits from Brown Rice


By Dr. Sosimo Ma. Pablico

IT’S ABOUT TIME Filipinos should be eating brown rice instead of the well polished white rice. Brown rice offers lots of benefits to the human body, as well as to the economy.

Dr. Marissa V. Romero, food chemist of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), brown rice is an excellent source of dietary fiber, magnesium, lysine, and protein. It contains more nutritious than polished white rice because polishing removes a significant amount (68-90%) of calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin, and thiamin. Protein content is also reduced by 15 percent when the bran layers are removed.

Although any rice variety can be milled into brown rice, it is better to consider those that are aromatic, good tasting, and acceptable to the public. Dr. Cezar P. Mamaril an IR841 line for brown rice because it is acceptable or has a good eating quality, aromatic, and has a tender texture. In fact, his harvest from what he calls his playground in Paciano Rizal, Bay, Laguna is solely intended for brown rice.

In addition to its nutrient content, one very important contribution of brown rice it helps address the malnutrition problem in the Philippines. A report of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) stated that almost 4 million (31%) of the preschool population in the country have been found to be underweight for their age. Likewise, 3 million (19.8%) adolescents and 5 million (13.2%) adults, including older persons, were found underweight and chronically energy-deficient, respectively.

Since brown rice is known for its high nutrient content, it could very well be a solution to the increasing incidence of malnutrition among Filipinos.

Likewise, brown rice could help provide enough rice for every Filipino, according to national scientist Dr. Emil Q. Javier, current president of the national Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) and chairman of the Asia Rice Foundation (ARF). He believes that brown rice can fill up 10 percent of the country’s rice supply deficit.

Dr. Mamaril said studies have shown that the milling recovery of brown rice is higher by 10 percent than polished white rice. “Through brown rice we can easily make up with rice shortage,” he said. Using the research results, he became the first producer of brown rice in the Los Banos science community. He is now a PhilRice senior consultant, having retired earlier from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

Moreover, lesser rice is consumed with brown rice because the dietary fibers it contains can easily make a person full. Dr. Mamaril jokingly said that if the stomach is easily filled up with brown rice, Filipinos will no longer order for extra rice.

Dr. Romero said brown rice can be paired with other nutrient-rich foods like vegetables, fruits, lean meat, and sea foods. Brown rice is more difficult to cook that well-milled white rice and has harder texture, but these problems can be partly solved by soaking the brown rice in water for 30 mi-nutes before cooking. The proportion of brown rice to water is 1:2 but it can be adjusted according to the desired softness or the variety used.

Dr. Romero added that newly milled brown rice can be germinated to produce sprouted brown rice or rice toge. This contains a high amount of nutrients. It is easy to cook, tasty, and has soft texture. Here’s how to sprout brown rice:

* Wash brown rice and soak in tap or warm water for 24 hours.

* Drain and wrap in cheesecloth.

* Place it on top of fine screen and allow sprouting for 24-48 hours.

* Wash several times with tap water.

* Drain and cook.

In Los Banos, brown rice has been stereotyped as rice for the rich only. This was because Dr. Javier and the members of the ARF targeted the rich people as buyer of brown rice when the Foundation re-introduced it to the public. For one thing, rich people are health conscious and can afford the slightly higher price of brown rice.

However, Dr. Mamaril decided to sell brown rice at PhP35 a kilo, which he considers affordable for everybody. He is still selling at the same price. He said the nutrients that people get from brown rice, its packaging, and labor cost in separating the unhulled grains from the hulled grains make the price reasonable.

SL Agritech, however, sells its brown rice at a much higher price than Dr. Mamaril whose supply is very much lesser.

Dr. Mamaril advises consumers to buy a few kilos only at a time and not in bulk because brown rice becomes rancid if it is not kept in proper storage. (With Ma. Adrielle D. Solsoloy)

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