Rice is an important staple of any healthy diet. This food is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates and complements protein alternatives to saturated fat-laden meat dishes very well.
Rice is the dietary backbone for over half the world's population. In Asian countries, each person consumes, on average, 200 to 400 pounds a year. Americans eat about 21 pounds per person, per year.
Rice is one reason why Asian diets are so low in saturated fat. While Americans tend to view rice as a side dish to a meat-centered diet, Asians view rice as the focus of the meal. Increasing the amount of rice and decreasing the amount of meat served helps reduce saturated fat intake.
Brown rice, a whole grain, provides three times the fiber of white rice and is an excellent source of manganese and a good source of selenium, magnesium, many B vitamins, and fiber. The fiber and selenium in brown rice may work together to reduce colon cancer risk. Research reported in 2005 showed that rice bran oil (rather than fiber) reduced blood cholesterol levels.
Whole grains eaten daily helped postmenopausal women slow the progression of heart disease. One reason may be linked to the lignans found in whole grains, which have been shown to help reduce heart disease, as well as prevent hormone-dependent cancers such as breast cancer. In addition, whole grains help prevent weight gain, and eating whole grains is correlated with a lower body weight, says a study that followed over 74,000 female nurses for 12 years.