Food is medicine.

In this season when our body resistance is being tested, feeding our body with good nutrients keep our immune system in best shape.

Did you know that our immune system can be made stronger by eating healthier forms of rice? Try brown and pigmented rice, which contain more nutrients and antioxidants than white rice! Also, mix white rice with corn grits or adlai for improved health.

Brown rice

Polishing, not its color, distinguishes brown rice from other forms of edible rice, said Dr. Marissa V. Romero, food scientist at the Rice Chemistry and Food Science Division of Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice). Brown rice is unpolished rice, which contains more nutrients than white rice.

Romero said that frequent consumption of brown rice may reduce the incidence of cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, heart disease, and stroke. Cancer and diabetes may also be diminished by eating brown rice.

“Polishing brown rice to obtain white rice removes 15% of proteins, 85% of fats, 80% of thiamine, 70% of riboflavin, 68% of niacin, 90% of calcium, 75% of phosphorus, 60% of other minerals,” Romero explained.

Pigmented rice

The poster Health-promoting antioxidants from pigmented rice published in the Philippine Journal of  Crop Science in 2009 by Romero, Nelson M. Panajon, Rosaly V. Manois, and Henry F. Mamucod, all from PhilRice, shows that pigmented rice has more anthocyanins, which act as powerful antioxidants, than white rice.

Antioxidants are free radical scavengers with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activities. Free radicals are cell-damaging agents, which are linked with high incidence of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and diabetes. Hence, antioxidants are exterminators of free radicals.

Rice mix

White rice can also be made healthier by mixing it with other food such as corn grits and adlai. Rice blend could improve health as rice, when mixed with corn grits is richer in dietary fiber, potassium, and vitamins A, B6, and C than plain rice.  Meanwhile, rice mixed with adlai at 50:50 ratio increased the protein and the healthy fat content of the blend.

Brown rice costs around P80 a kilo in the supermarket, but only around P50 or less a kilo when bought from farmers’ cooperatives such as the Nagkakaisang Magsasaka Agricultural Primary Multipurpose Cooperative in Tabacao, Talavera, Nueva Ecija. Pigmented rice is sold at around P90 a kilo in the supermarkets. Mixing rice with corn grits or adlai is also cheaper than pure rice.

Other than eating healthier forms of rice, the Harvard Medical School also recommends healthy-living strategies to fight off diseases. The experts advise:

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
  • Get adequate sleep.
  • Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
  • Try to minimize stress.

With healthier food and lifestyle, indeed, we’re giving ourselves higher fighting chance against illnesses and diseases.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture created through Executive Order 1061 on 5 November 1985 (as amended) to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute