Brown is beautiful… and healthy!

This may as well be the battlecry of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) as its attached agency, the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), leads a nationwide campaign to make sure brown rice is served by more Filipino households as a staple food and promote it as a healthier option to white rice.

Brown rice, one of DOST’s solutions to address food security, will be one of the featured products at the National Science and Technology Week to be held July 23-27 at the SMX Convention Center at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City.

During a consultative meeting on DOST Brown Rice Program conducted by the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), DOST’s advisory body, NAST President William G. Padolina stressed the importance of the program to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production as well as its consequent health and economic benefits to farmers and consumers.

Brown rice is any variety of rice that has been dried, cleaned and milled with only the husk removed while leaving the rice kernel coated with bran layer. White rice on the other hand, undergoes a second milling process that removes the bran layer, and is thus referred to as “polished rice.”

The bran layer and the germ are very rich in nutrients like fiber, minerals, vitamins B (thiamine) and E that prevent beri-beri and protein.

“Brown rice is rich in minerals like selenium and manganese and high in fiber content. Also it is a good antioxidant that can reduce risk of cardiovascular diseases,” said Padolina.

Studies conducted by FNRI showed the many benefits of eating brown rice compared to white rice.

Dr. Mario V. Capanzana, FNRI director, said that a shift to eating preferences in favour of brown rice could significantly contribute to lowering incidence of malnutrition among children. “Brown rice is recognized as food combating malnutrition but unfortunately few people use it due to longer cooking time and availability in the market,” revealed Dr. Capanzana.

However, Dr. Manuel Jose C. Regalado, deputy executive director for research at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (Philrice), said that around 25% of retail sales in rice from supermarkets and hypermarkets come from brown rice.

FNRI continues to conduct researches to make brown rice more acceptable to the buying public.

Among these is a study on improving the shelf life of brown rice from a maximum of three months to about five to nine months. The study was presented during the NAST consultative meeting by Engr. Rosemarie G. Garcia, senior science research specialist from FNRI.

Another is a study by Aida Mallillin, also of FNRI, on mineral availability, dietary fiber content and fermentability characteristics of optimized brown rice. The said study noted that dietary fiber helps in preventing obesity, diabetes mellitus and possibly cancer.

Both studies involved the use of four rice varieties, namely: RC 160, RC 216, PHB 71 and SL8.

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