Natural Health Tips

Ibn al-Qayyim: Rice is a Nourishing Grain

Rice is the most consumed grain in the world and the great scholar Ibn al-Qayyim in his work "The Prophetic Medicine", said that rice is the most nourishing of grains after wheat. He also said that it strengthens the stomach and regularly eating rice is beneficial to health, increases fertility and cleanses the complexion.

He mentioned that there are differences in the consistency of white and brown rice after cooking, and that they are both distinct in nutritional value and taste.

What is rice?

Rice is actually a grass and has two different species, oryza sativa and oryza glaberrima; the first being the most common. White rice is the most consumed rice, however it does not start off white- it becomes white from processing whole grain rice.

Whole grain brown rice is nutritionally superior to white rice. This is because whole grain brown rice contains all three layers of the kernel - the bran, germ and endosperm. It is rich in lignans (antioxidant and phytoestrogens found in a variety of plants, especially flax seeds), phytoestogens and phenolic compounds that are all high in antioxidant activity. It also contains important nutrients such as thiamine, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, iron, riboflavin and five times the fiber of white rice. The germ of the rice provides natural Vitamin E. The bran of the rice contains phytochemicals that may reduce cholesterol.

Health benefits of eating whole grain brown rice include:

  • Cancer: brown rice contains plant lignins, especially enterolactone, that help establish healthy flora in the intestines, and may protect against breast and other hormone-dependant cancers, as well as heart disease. One study found that women who ate more whole grains, including brown rice, had significantly higher blood levels of enterolactone.

  • Alzheimer's: researchers found that eating brown rice reduced learning and memory deficits in animals, brought about by beta-amyloid protein, considered to be one of the leading contributors in Alzheimers dementia.

Tips on Using Brown Rice:

  • Long grain rice produces light, dry grains that separate easily.

  • Short grain rice produces almost-round grains with a higher starch content than long or medium grains, and that stick together when cooked.

  • Brown rice has a shelf life of three to six months but this can be extended by refrigerating the uncooked rice.

  • Cooked rice can be refrigerated for up to one week in a tightly covered container.

  • Brown rice takes a lot longer to cook than white rice; it can take up to fifty minutes to soften.

References for further reading

  • Anderson JW, Hanna TJ, Peng X, Kryscio RJ. Whole grain foods and heart disease risk. J Am Coll Nutr. 2000 Jun; 19(3 Suppl):291 S-299S.

  • Jensen MK, Koh-Banerjee P, Hu FB, Franz M, Sampson L, Gronbaek M, Rimm EB. Intakes of whole grains, bran, and germ and the risk of coronary heart disease in men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004;80(6):1492-1499.

  • Johnsen NF, Hausner H, Olsen A, Tetens I, Christensen J, Knudsen KE, Overvad K, Tjonneland A. Intake of whole grains and vegetables determines the plasma enterolactone concentration of Danish women. J Nutr. 2004 Oct; 134(10):2691-2697.

  • Mamiya T et al. Effects of pre-germinated brown rice on beta-amyloid protein-induced learning and memory deficits in mice. Biol Pharm Bull. 2004 Jul; 27(7):1041-1045.

  • Most MM, Tulley R, Morales S, Lefevre M. Rice bran oil, not fiber, lowers cholesterol in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 jan;81(1):64-68.