News / Health

Rice Could Help Prevent Heart Attacks

Partially 'polished' rice provides nutritional and preventive benefits

Researchers say they've discovered a component in rice that can actually prevent heart attacks.
Researchers say they've discovered a component in rice that can actually prevent heart attacks.

Multimedia

Audio

People worried about heart attacks get a lot of advice about what to eat: less fat; more fruits; more vegetables. New research suggests the most important thing they can do may be to simply eat more rice.

It's hard to imagine needing justification to eat rice — for much of the world, it's the major component of every meal. But Japanese researcher Satoru Eguchi says in Japan, rice has been losing popularity to other more Westernized staples.

"Japanese people have more of a Western diet in past 50 years," he notes. "We ate 50 percent less rice compared to 50 years ago in Japan." And that trend had some Japanese doctors worried. They believed the traditional diet, based largely on fish and a lot of rice, was healthier than the high fat, high protein diet Japanese were beginning to adopt.

A surprising compound in a bowl of rice

Studies have shown the heart-healthy value of fish, but there is no equivalent research into the benefits of rice. It's known that rice has a lot of fiber and some vitamins, and Eguchi and his colleagues at Temple University in Philadelphia were convinced there was even more to it.

What they discovered is that there's a component in rice that can actually prevent heart attacks.

It works by inhibiting a hormone called angiotensin II. The hormone can cause blood vessels to narrow and excess sodium to accumulate in the blood. These are factors that lead to cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure and hardening of arteries.

Researchers say rice inhibits a hormone that can cause blood vessels to narrow and excess sodium to accumulate in the blood, factors that lead to cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure and hardening of arteries.
Researchers say rice inhibits a hormone that can cause blood vessels to narrow and excess sodium to accumulate in the blood, factors that lead to cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure and hardening of arteries.

There are a number of medications available that block angiotensin. Eguchi says his research shows you may be able to get the same benefits from eating rice.

But not just any rice. In fact, brown rice, often believed to be the grain's healthiest incarnation, turns out to be the worst option, when it comes to this angiotensin-blocking compound.

"Most of the nutritious part cannot really be digested, because the brown rice shell is so hard," he explains. "We actually cannot really absorb the nutrition. And to make the brown shells sufficiently soft to digest, you need to cook rice longer, need more heat, [so you are] not really keeping that protective ingredient."

Getting the most benefit from the grain

The heart-attack-stopping compound comes from the layer just under the fiber-rich but hard to digest outer shell of brown rice. By the time you boil brown rice for 45 minutes to make it soft enough to eat, you've basically boiled out the nutrition.

White rice cooks for less time, but most of that nutritious inner layer has been polished off to get that light and fluffy texture.

But Eguchi says there is a third option. It's possible to "half polish" rice — or to polish away the hard outer shell, while leaving the nutritious inner layer intact. "By this way you can most effectively digest the nutritious part."

In Japan, that style of rice is called haigamai. Eguchi says among some Japanese, it is already a popular choice, because of perceived health benefits. Now, thanks to his research, those assumptions have scientific backing.

The process to make haigamai rice is not complicated; all it takes is to stop polishing rice before it fully becomes white rice. It is a technique that could be replicated by rice producers around the world.

For those who don't like rice — or don't want to switch from the standard brown or white options — Eguchi and colleagues are working to extract the compound to develop a new, natural medication.

Eguchi presented his research to scientists and doctors at the annual meeting of the American Association of Anatomists.

You May Like

Conflicts Engulf Christians in the Middle East

Research finds an increase in faith-based hostilities, and Christians are facing persecution in a growing number of countries in the region More

Chinese Americans: Don’t Call Us 'Model Minority'

Label points to collective achievement, but some say it triggers resentment, unrealistic expectations More

Iran Bolsters Surveillance of Phones, Internet

Does increased monitoring suggest the government is nervous? More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid