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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs