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What is so good about Brown Rice?

In the 19th century, millers in the Far East discovered that they could remove the outer layers of brown rice and polish the grain to a gleaming whiteness. The people thought the new rice was so appealing in taste and texture that it soon replaced brown rice on many tables.

What began to happen was very interesting. People started getting digestive complaints, weakness and unpleasant tingling sensations in the hands and feet. It was discovered that they had a disease called beriberi. People couldn't understand why the poor who could not afford white rice were not suffering from beriberi. Eventually, scientists determined that the missing substance in the white rice which resulted in beriberi was thiamine, or vitamin B1.

In every country where rice constituted the main part of each meal, the disease was almost universal during the years when white rice replaced brown rice in the diet.

These days white rice is enriched with the three leading B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin and niacin). But other nutritional goodies that brown rice naturally contains are not replaced in the enriched white rice.

When it is polished, the germ and the bran are removed, taking with them protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. The rest of the rice is almost entirely starch. The bran and polishings contain most of the protein in the original grain, along with immense amounts of phosphorous and potassium, astonishing amounts of iron, and more of the B vitamins than any other food except wheat germ and nutritional yeast. One cup of rice bran contains almost 2 mg. of thiamine (B1 ), nearly 30 mg of niacin (B3 ), and 16 mg of iron.

Rice bran is an excellent source of fiber, either alone or as a part of the whole grain. Rice grits are produced when brown rice has been cracked coarsely.

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