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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora