Better Nutrition (1989-90)

Rice bran may lower cholesterol – includes recipe

Rice bran may lower cholesterol – includes recipe – column

Frank Murray

Rice Bran May Lower Cholesterol

For years we have been hearing about the health benefits of wheat bran and oat bran, but now there is a new kid on the block: rice bran. The thin brown layer that is milled off in the processing of white rice, rice bran is just as effective as the other brans in fighting high cholesterol and providing high-grade fiber. In addition, rice bran can be tolerated by those who cannot digest gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, oats, barley and other grains and grasses. Brown rice, of course, has the bran intact.

In a study at the Western Regional Research Center of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Albany, Calif., researchers Antoinette Betschart and Robin M. Saunders reported that when hamsters were fed rice bran and a high amount of pure cholesterol, their cholesterol levels dropped between 15 and 30 percent, a rate equal to or slightly better than the reductions found when the animals were fed oat bran and cholesterol.

Two other studies, performed on humans, have been underway at the University of Texas Medical Center and Louisiana State University. The results will be published soon. One of the purposes of the studies is to analyze how rice bran reduces cholesterol. Since rice bran contains little soluble fiber — the factor that helps oat bran to reduce cholesterol — the U.S.D.A. researchers theorize that the oil in rice bran is the beneficial component. About 20 percent of rice bran’s weight is oil. Some people also find rice bran more palatable than oat bran.

The U.S.D.A. researchers have expanded the use of rice bran by perfecting a process that stops the bran’s oil from turning rancid.

According to the Rice Council of America, a 1-ounce serving of rice bran (about 1/3 cup) provides 51 percent of the Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin B1, 48 percent for vitamin B3, 55 percent for vitamin B6, 47 percent for phosphorus, 55 percent for magnesium, 28 percent for iron, 21 percent for pantothenic acid, 13 percent for zinc and 10 percent for copper.

A 1-ounce serving of rice bran contains 88 calories, 6 grams of dietary fiber and no sodium. Rice bran is between 9 and 12 percent soluble fiber and between 88 and 91 percent insoluble fiber.

Health food stores now carry rice bran and brown rice in a variety of products. Many people are reluctant to use brown rice because it takes 45 minutes to cook. But fortunately, brown rice now comes in a relatively “instant” variety which takes only 10 minutes to cook. Or, according to Marian Burros of The New York Times, you can soak regular brown rice for several hours, which cuts the required cooking time to 20 minutes.

Here’s a nutritious treat using the 10 minute brown rice:

Garden Rice Toss

1 bag 10-minute brown rice

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced

1 medium zucchini, sliced

2 stalks fresh broccoli, chopped

15 snow pea pods 1/2 cup cooked kidney beans

2 Tbsp fresh ground pepper

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese 3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt

Cook rice according to directions. Heat oil in large skillet and add all vegetables and seasonings. Saute until tender. Add cooked rice and toss with cheese and yogurt. Yields 4 servings.

With so many rice bran and brown rice products in your health food store, you need not settle for nutrient-depleted white rice. Rice can be used as a hot or cold cereal and as an addition to many recipes. Rice bran can be included in a milk shake, or baked into muffins and breads. Other rice products include brown rice cakes, rice bran oil, rice flakes and brown rice grits. Organically grown rice is appearing more frequently on the shelves of health food stores.

Formerly editor of Better Nutrition and Today’s Living, Frank Murray is now a contributing editor in their New York office. His latest book, Happy Feet: For Joggers, Runners and Walkers, will be published soon by Keats Publishing Inc., New Canaan, Conn.

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