By Victor Ogunyinka
Yes, all foods may quench your hunger but not all food would satiate your body’s nutritional needs. In fact, some foods even expose the body to health hazards than you probably know.
One food that is worth considering on your menu list on a weekly basis, is brown rice popularly known as Ofada rice or local rice.
If appearance was a criterion that determines healthy food, some people might knock out Ofada rice, but that is about what is in it to lose as experts have said that Ofada is a very important food to be considered for prevention of diabetes and some kinds of cancer.
Brown rice is a wholegrain, unpolished rice with a mild, nutty flavour with only the husk of the grain removed and more nutritious than white or polished rice.
No doubt, majority of consumers would readily pick the white rice over the brown for obvious reasons; it looks more attractive and clean, it is easier to cook and to some, it is tastier than the local rice, but not in any way a healthier alternative.
Dr (Mrs) Khadijah Alarape, the State Nutrition Officer of Oyo State Ministry of Health, described brown rice as a wholegrain, grown naturally without addition of chemicals. “A wholegrain like Ofada rice has three layers; the bran, germ and the endosperm. The bran contains most of the nutrients and when the wholegrain is processed to white or polished rice, majority of the nutrients, most especially in the bran are lost.”
Before white rice became processed, it used to be brown rice. The processing, according to experts, was to help improve the colour, extract extraneous materials (stones and shaft) and others, but in the process, many nutrients were lost. In order to make-up for the lost nutrients, producers fortify the grain with basic vitamins that is usually indicated on their packaging materials.
It should be noted that the 21st century hustling and bustling have also, in no small measure, contributed to substituting nature for the artificial to help keep to speed. Pounded yam is now available in powdered form; wheat flour is now available in processed form, among others. But the question is, do we really still get value for money with the processed food?
While comparing the local rice to processed rice, Dr ,,,,,,Alarape explained that though both grains have some similarities in their protein, energy and carbohydrate content, the local rice, however, has some additional nutrients over the polished rice.
“Brown rice has about two times the amount of magnesium and phosphorus; two and half times iron, three, four and 10 times more vitamin B3, B1 and B6, respectively and four times fibre than white rice.
“Furthermore, Ofada rice has a lot of nutrients starting from its unique aroma during cooking which is not in polished rice. Unfortunately, a lot of people do not really take this special meal because of the rigorous cooking procedure. You know, a lot of people are working class and they seem not to have enough time to make this food, unlike in the olden days. So, the choice of polished rice is a no-brainer; it has been processed and all you need do is to wash and boil.”
The health benefits of brown rice also make it a food choice for preventing cancer and managing diabetes. Dr Alarape highlighted some of the benefits thus:
• The cellulose content of Ofada rice increases the fibre content in our food. This is usually useful in the management of calorie intake for some health conditions like diabetes mellitus. It is also useful in lowering cholesterol level, which safeguards against heart disease. The fibre also assists in preventing bowel disorders. It lowers Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL) and it is also useful in weight management.
•Ofada rice has appreciable amount of selenium, which has been found to fight colon and breast cancers.
•The insoluble fibre helps in reducing the risk of gall stones which is common in women.