Health & Nutrition

The Nutritional Advantage

Dietitian’s Newsletter Nutrient rich and low allergen…containing eight essential amino acids, U.S. rice is low in calories, contains no cholesterol, sodium or fat. Brown rice is a slow burning complex carbohydrate, providing long lasting energy and all rice is low allergen and gluten-free.

Rice also holds mood enhancing properties. The brain and nervous system rely on carbohydrates for energy. In addition, carbohydrates such as rice enhance the synthesis of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is the brain chemical that regulates mood and controls appetite. Mood disorders such as “winter blues” or its more severe version, Seasonal Affective Disorder may be due in part to inadequate serotonin synthesis. Carbohydrates like rice have been shown to alleviate the symptoms of this common winter disorder.

What are the benefits of the vitamins and minerals in rice?

Potassium is needed to regulate water balance, levels of acidity, blood pressure, and neuromuscular function, including a critical role in transmission of electrical impulses in the heart. Potassium is an essential mineral required for energy metabolism and proper cell function. Potassium also:

  • regulates fluid and mineral balance
  • assists with muscle contraction and transmission of nerve signals
  • helps the heart and kidneys function properly

Getting enough potassium in your diet has been shown to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.

Magnesium is needed for bone, protein, and fatty acid formation, making new cells, activating B vitamins, relaxing muscles, clotting blood, lowering blood pressure and forming ATP — the energy the body runs on. Insulin secretion and function also require magnesium.

Fibre lowers cholesterol. Diets high in fibre have been reported to correlate better with protection against heart disease in both men and women.

Thiamine or Vitamin B1 is needed to process carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Every cell of the body requires vitamin B1 to form ATP — the fuel the body runs on. Nerve cells require Vitamin B1 in order to function normally.

Niacin or Vitamin B3 is used by the body in the process of releasing energy from carbohydrates. It’s needed to form fat from carbohydrates and to process alcohol. The niacin form of Vitamin B3 also regulates cholesterol.

Vitamin B6 is the master vitamin in the processing of amino acids — the building blocks of all proteins and some hormones. Vitamin B6 helps to make and take apart many amino acids and is also needed to make serotonin, melatonin, and dopamine. Vitamin B6 also aids in the formation of several neurotransmitters and is therefore an essential nutrient in the regulation of mental processes and possibly mood. In combination with folic acid and Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6 lowers homocysteine levels — a substance linked to heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Pantothenic Acid is involved in the cycle of energy production and is needed to make the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. It is also essential in producing, transporting and releasing energy from fats. Synthesis of cholesterol (needed for Vitamin D and hormone synthesis) depends on pantothenic acid. It also lowers blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.

Iron is part of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying component of the blood. Iron-deficient people tire easily because their bodies are starved for oxygen. Iron is also part of myoglobin, which helps muscle cells store oxygen. Without enough iron, ATP (the fuel the body runs on) cannot be properly synthesized. As a result, some iron-deficient people become fatigued even when their hemoglobin levels are normal.

Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin that protects Vitamin A and essential fatty acids from oxidation in the body cells and prevents breakdown of body tissue. One half-cup (125 mL) serving of brown rice provides a trace of Vitamin E.

Phosphorous is a mineral which helps build strong bones and teeth. Phosphorous is also involved in the release of energy from fat, protein, and carbohydrates during metabolism, and in the formation of genetic material, cell membranes, and many enzymes.

Folacin is a water-soluble vitamin that helps the body form red blood cells and aids in the formation of genetic material within every body cell.

Did You Know?

  • Rice is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
  • 1 cup (250 mL) of rice is considered 2 servings of grain. According to Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating, children should be eating 3-6 servings, teens 6-7 servings and adults 6-8 servings of grain products per day.
  • Brown rice is considered a source of fibre. Men require 38 grams and women require 25 grams of fibre daily.
  • Rice is low allergen, gluten-free and easily digested.