Rice is a grass species which is scientifically called Oryza glaberrima (African rice) or Oryza sativa (Asian rice). It is grown in over 100 countries in the world, making it the most common cereal, serving as a stable food for approximately half of the global population. Rice is primarily consumed in the polished, white grain form. Unfortunately, the refined white grain has reduced nutritious components which are normally removed with the bran. The bran portion of the grain contains a rich source of lipids, protein, soluble and insoluble dietary fibres, iron, B vitamins, and a number of small molecules including; phytosterols, phenolic acids, and antioxidants that can aid in disease prevention, control and treatment.
In Uganda, rice is generally referred to as Omuchele/mucele in nearly all the dialects in Uganda. Rice growing in Uganda is almost carried out country wide. Two main rice categories are grown; the lowland rice, which requires wetlands to grow well and the upland rice, which are grown in areas that do not have swamps.
Whole rice consumption has promising outcomes for chronic disease prevention due to especially, high quantity of dietary fiber in it. Rice is also a great source of complex carbohydrates which is readily broken down to glucose, most of which is used as energy and as essential fuel for the brain to function.
Rice is an important source of protein. It has a high proportion of lysine and high protein digestibility. Rice protein, which comprises up to eight per cent of the grain, has a special benefit as it has eight of the essential amino acids in a delicately balanced proportion. A complete internal rejuvenation takes place when rice protein is metabolized into health-building amino acids. The B-complex vitamins, especially thiamin, riboflavin and niacin offered by natural brown rice promote youthful energy and nourishment to skin and blood vessels. Rice bran also contains beneficial anti-oxidants like; tocopherols and tocotrienols (of the Vitamin E family) and oryzanols.
In some communities, the husks of a three months’ old rice is used to treat dysentery and as a diuretic, it can also eliminate toxins from the body like uric acid. The high fiber content also increases bowel movement regularity and protects against various types of cancer, as well as reducing the chances of cardiovascular diseases. And, it’s believed that it considerably increases appetite, cures stomach ailments, and reduces a myriad of digestive problems. Furthermore, powdered rice applied topically is believed to cure skin conditions. In fact, rice water is readily prescribed by Ayurvedic practitioners as an effective ointment to cool off inflamed skin surfaces and is known to be essential for soothing irritation and redness. Indeed, whether consumed or topically applied, rice tends to relieve a number of skin conditions. The antioxidant capacity also helps delay the appearance of wrinkles and other premature signs of aging that affect the skin.
Rice is low in sodium, so it is considered one of the best foods for those suffering from hypertension. Sodium can cause veins and arteries to constrict, increasing stress and strain on the cardiovascular system as the blood pressure increases. This is also associated with heart conditions like atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes. Hence, avoiding an excess of this mineral is always a good idea.
By Richard Komakech
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