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Rice Nutrition Facts

Rice is the primary food for more than 3 billion people around the world. It is the grain with the second highest worldwide production, after maize ("corn"). Since a large portion of maize crops are grown for purposes other than human consumption, rice is probably the most important grain with regards to human nutrition and caloric intake, providing more than one fifth of the calories consumed worldwide by humans.

Rice is nutrient dense and contributes over 15 vitamins and minerals. It is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, which are the best kind, stored in muscles and used to give us energy when we need it.

Unusual for many high carbohydrate foods, rice contains very high quality proteins, especially when compared to other grains. Rice contains all eight of the essential amino acids, which help to build and maintain muscle tissue and make up enzymes, antibodies and hormones.

Essential amino acids consist of leucine, isoleucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanain, theronine, tryptophan and valine. These amino acids are considered essential because the human body cannot manufacture them on its own, and they must, therefore, be derived from food sources such as proteins.

Failure to obtain enough of even one of the essential amino acids results in degradation of the body's proteins muscle and so forth to obtain the one amino acid that is needed. Unlike fat and starch, the human body does not store excess amino acids for later use. The amino acids must be in the food every day.

In a cup of cooked long grain white rice, that has not been enriched, the nutrition facts will be less impressive than that of brown rice. Different brands will affect the actual nutrition facts but white rice will not offer vitamin A, vitamin C, or calcium. The amount of iron that it will supply will likely be half of what brown rice can offer, and it will have less protein than brown rice.

Brown rice offers six times as much vitamin B1 (thiamine), three times as much vitamin B2 (riboflavin), five times as much vitamin B3 (niacin), twice as much vitamin B6, twice as much vitamin B9 (folate) as white rice and offers such nutrients as vitamin K and betaine that white rice does not. Both rices offer the same amount of vitamin E and choline.

Brown rice also contains nutrients like magnesium, manganese, and zinc. Manganese is an essential cofactor in a number of enzymes important in energy production and antioxidant defenses. White rice has reduced levels of these nutrients.

In the United States, the greatest amount of rice consumed is white rice. During processing, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B3 (niacin), and iron are lost but then added again later. This is what gives most American rice the label of "enriched" rice. However, even when white rice is enriched it does not reach the nutrient content of brown rice, which also has four times as much fiber.

Rice also contains resistant starch, which is the starch that reaches the bowel undigested. This encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria, keeping the bowel healthy.

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