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Health benefits of black rice and its bran: Should you soak grains in yogurt?

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Scientists have been studying the health benefits of black rice as compared with brown, white, mahogany, or red rice. With black rice, which is a small grain, you can cook it the same way you cook any other whole grain: Two parts of water to one part of rice. That's one cup of black rice to two cups of water. You also could cook the black rice in vegetable or chicken broth. You may wish to check out the site, "Black Rice Beats Brown When It Comes To Its Health Benefits."

What else would you add to the black rice? When the water is absorbed in the same time it takes to cook other grains such as brown rice, just add chopped cooked vegetables, cooked and peeled shrimp, chunks of canned salmon, sliced tempeh, or any other foods you want to add to the black rice other than more grains.

See, Black rice recipes at Epicurious.com. Also try black rice pudding by boiling the rice and a 1/4 cup of raisins and 1/4 cup of goji berries in water until it's absorbed, and then adding creamy almond milk or coconut milk. Serve warm or chilled with coconut cream on top or Greek yogurt whipped with a tablespoon of organic creamed honey. Savory black rice? See, Mushroom Hash With Black Rice - Recipes for Health - NYTimes.com. Or try Weeknight Meal Recipe: Black Rice with Edamame Guest Post.

UC Davis studies the health benefits and production of rice

UC Davis in the Sacramento-Davis regional area also researches rice. In the Sacramento area, UC Davis also studies the health benefits and production of rice bran oil, rice bran, and whole-grain brown rice. The University of California Cooperative and Extension (UCCE) Rice Project is an interdisciplinary collaboration that fosters research in rice production management and facilitates the exchange of information and the development and spread of promising technologies.The project studies rice production in California, especially in the Sacramento area.

You'd have to eat many times more servings of black rice to get the same nutrients from black rice bran, which is difficult to find at this time in stores. But you can buy black rice and grind it to a flour in a coffee grinder or a dry grinder (such as a Vita-Mix dry grinder) and then sprinkle the black rice flour or meal over other foods.

As the studies on black rice bran reach the stores, availability of black rice bran may change

In the meantime, keep on grinding the black rice into flour and sprinkle it on foods. If you cook black rice, you'll find it's a very sticky rice and tastes good as a fruit-sweetened rice pudding, the way some people may eat it in China, for example. Black rice also is popular in Thailand and Indonesia.

You can buy black rice in Sacramento in the bulk bins at the Whole Foods Market on Arden and Eastern Avenues. The black rice, a product of China, are marked "forbidden rice," which is another name for black rice. It goes back to the historical era in some areas of Asia when only the king or royalty was allowed eat the more nutritious black rice, and the rest of the population had to do with white rice.

For more information on black rice in Sacramento, see the California Rice Commission website

You might also look for black, Japonica and mahogany Japonica short grain rice in the Sacramento area. In fact, Sacramento and the surrounding valley areas are California's main rice-growing regions.

To buy black Japonica rice online, which may be a field blend of black and mahogany Japonica rice, check out the Max Vite, website where you can order just one bag of Lundberg Black Japonica Rice or as many as you want. Or you can also see the site, Lundberg Black Japonica Rice, 16-Ounces (Pack of 12): Amazon.com . Lundberg is located in N. California in Richvale, located approximately 80 miles north of Sacramento.

What Did the Separate Components of Whole Grains Reveal?

When the researchers looked at separate components of whole grains, only bran showed an independent relationship with hypertension risk, with men who consumed the most at 15 percent lower risk of hypertension than men who ate the least. However, the researchers note, the amount of bran in the men's diet was relatively small compared to their total intake of whole grain and cereal fiber. See the article, "Bran, whole grains may fight high blood pressure in men."

According to the HealthDay News article, "Whole grains as a part of a prudent, balanced diet may help promote cardiovascular health," the lead researcher and project director at Harvard School of Public Health of the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, Dr. Alan J. Flint explained to the media. The latest analysis followed up previous studies that's why it's called a Follow-Up study. "Higher intake of whole grains was associated with a lower risk of hypertension in our cohort of over 31,000 men," Flint told the press.

The relationship between whole grain intake and hypertension risk remained even after accounting for men's fruit and vegetable intake, use of vitamins, amount of physical activity, and whether or not they were screened for high blood pressure. This suggests that the association was independent of these markers of a healthy lifestyle behavior pattern. It's possible, the researchers say, that the men that ate more whole grains gained less weight over time. The current findings, Flint and colleagues explained, "have implications for future dietary guidelines and for the prevention of hypertension."

This is not a new idea. The most recent scientific studies help to lend credibility and validity to the claims and to studies using fewer people. For years, books have touted the health benefits of whole grains. In the 2008 book, The Cholesterol Hoax, Dr. Sherry A Rogers notes on page 181, "Whole grains are actually much higher in antioxidants than fruits and vegetables."

Whole grains health guidelines

The section, "They Forgot the Whole Grains," explains, "Folks who have diets containing daily whole grains have 26% less heart disease, 36% fewer strokes, and a 43% lower cancer rate. In another study of 88 folks with high blood pressure, 73% of those who had two meals of whole grains a day dropped their blood pressure medications in half in addition to dropping their cholesterol and blood sugars (Pins, Jones)." Read the published scientific study, Pins JJ, et al. "Do Whole Grain oat cereals reduce the need for antihypertensive medications and improve blood pressure control? Journal of Family Practice 51: 353-359, 2002.

The most recent USA nutrition guidelines recommend that people get at least 3 ounces, or 85 grams, of whole grains daily, and that they consume at least half of their grains as whole grains, according to the recent Reuters article of October 7, 2009, "Whole Grains May Keep Blood Pressure in Check."

"There's evidence, the investigators note, that women who eat more whole grains are less likely to develop high blood pressure, also called hypertension, but there is less information on how whole grains might affect men's heart health," according to the Reuters article, based on a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Eating lots of whole grains could ward off high blood pressure, according to that study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. You can read the abstract of the actual study in the July 1, 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 90: 493-498, 2009, doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.27460.

The title of the research is, "Whole grains and incident hypertension in men." Although the study had been performed with only men, women can benefit also, provided that you don't have sensitivities to whole grains such as celiac disease. It doesn't matter which whole grains you eat so much. You could substitute quinoa or amaranth, oats, brown rice, or rye for wheat because wheat in some people causes a rise in insulin. But what did the study actually find?

Whole grains' effects on hypertension in the research

According to the study, men with the highest whole-grain consumption were 19 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure than men who ate the least amount of whole grains. But you need to know something about how to prepare whole grains so that you don't get the phytates in grain.

Whole grains contain phytic acid in the bran of the grain. Phytic acid combines with key minerals, especially calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc and prevents their absorption in the intestinal tract, according to the article, "The Two Stage Process: A Preparation Method Maximizing the Nutritional Value of Whole Grains."

According to Introduction to Whole Foods, page two, "Soaking, fermenting, or sprouting the grain before cooking or baking will neutralize the phytic acid, releasing nutrients for absorption. This process allows enzymes, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms to not only neutralize the phytic acid, but also to break down complex starches, irritating tannins and difficult-to-digest proteins including gluten. For many, this may lessen their sensitivity or allergic reactions to particular grains."

Soaking the whole grains in yogurt

The healthier way to prepare whole grains, according to the article, " is to soak the whole grains or whole grain flour in an acid medium such as buttermilk, yogurt, or other cultured milk, or in water with whey, lemon juice or vinegar added. As little as 7 hours soaking will neutralize a large portion of the phytic acid in grains. Twelve to 24 hours is even better with 24 hours yielding the best results."

Basically, you can soak grains overnight in a covered jar of filtered water in your refrigerator. The grains will become soft. You can soak whole grains for two days. The whole buckwheat usually becomes soft enough to eat for breakfast without cooking with heat.

Just put some cherries and blueberries or dried fruit such as raisins on top of it, add a handful of chopped nuts or hulled sunflower seeds and sesame seeds, and you have a great breakfast cereal, as long as you're not sensitive to the nuts and seeds or the particular grains. Buckwheat isn't the same grain as regular whole wheat.

Usually, there's an alternative whole grain you can tolerate, with some exceptions for persons with various sensitivities or those with celiac disease who must eat gluten-free foods. Then choose the gluten-free substitutes.

Brown rice, buckwheat, and millet

Brown rice, buckwheat and millet are more easily digested because they contain lower amounts of phytates than other grains, so they may be soaked for the shorter times. According to Introduction to Whole Foods, other grains, particularly oats, "the highest in phytates of the whole grains, is best soaked up to 24 hours."

The article reports that there are two other advantages of the two-stage process. "Several hours of soaking serves to soften the grain, resulting in baked goods lighter in texture, closer to the texture of white flour. The longer the soaking, the less necessary is the baking powder. Baking soda, alone, will give enough rise. Secondly, this is a great step in convenience, dividing the task into two shorter time periods, cutting the time needed to prepare the recipe right before cooking and baking when you feel rushed to get food on the table."

Science research teams often look at the The Health Professionals Follow-Up Study on various topics. The Follow-Up Study explores men's health issues, relating nutritional factors to the incidence of serious illnesses, such as cancer, heart disease, and other vascular diseases. This all-male study is designed to complement the all-female Nurses' Health Study, which examines similar hypotheses.

According to an October 20, 2010 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, black rice bran may cut inflammation. See the article, "Black rice bran may help fight disease-related inflammation." See the article, "The Next Big Food Fad is Black Rice Bran."

You also may be interested in viewing sites such as: Saturated fat is good for you. Not Bad, Calories don’t make you fat, Refined sugar leads to early aging and diabetes, Whole grains are unhealthy, Excess vegetable oil (linoleic acid) is bad for you, Animal products don’t cause cancer, Gluten is harmful, Cholesterol doesn’t cause heart disease, and Chemicals and additives cause mental disorders.

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