In a world of rice-centric restaurants and high-end food brands, brown rice has been the go-to food for decades.
But that’s starting to change, with more and more restaurants and restaurants chains making it the centerpiece of their menu.
Brown rice is a rice product that contains both whole grains and legumes, making it a popular ingredient in Asian cuisines.
And as we’ve previously reported, it’s becoming increasingly popular in the United States.
What’s the brown rice story?
“It’s the most widely eaten rice in the world,” says David Hetrick, professor of food science at the University of California, Davis.
“It accounts for about 10 percent of the world’s rice.”
In a 2014 study, Hetricks team found that rice was the most commonly eaten food in the U.S., with brown rice accounting for a whopping 77 percent of it.
But why is brown, unprocessed rice a hit in the states?
Hetrons team studied the amount of brown rice in foods from California to China and found that in the most populous U.K. state, brown and unprocessable rice accounted for more than half of the food consumed.
This means the amount a person ate of brown and non-brown rice together was more than twice as much as a person would eat without it.
This is especially important because the consumption of white rice, a grain that is much more expensive than brown rice and is commonly used in Asian cuisine, is also increasing in the region.
According to Hetrik’s study, in 2010, white rice accounted a quarter of all rice consumed in the UK.
Now, in 2016, it accounted more than 40 percent of rice consumption.
And the reason brown rice is so popular is because it has been proven to lower cholesterol, improve blood pressure, and fight type 2 diabetes.
Why is brown a big hit?
It’s easy to see why brown rice would be a big deal in the health food world.
Brown is one of the most expensive grains to cook because it is processed into a powder, which can have significant impacts on the taste.
This can be attributed to the fact that most white rice is white, which means it is often mixed with brown.
But brown rice also contains less fiber than white rice and can be high in saturated fat and cholesterol.
“The amount of starch in brown rice can also have a very high glycemic index, which is the same as the glycemic response to starch,” says Hetriks team.
“This is important because you can get the same glycemic effect as with white rice when you are eating white rice.”
The amount of sugar in brown is also more than white, meaning that when you’re eating brown rice it’s more likely that you’re consuming more sugar.
But in the past, it was difficult to determine exactly how much sugar in a food contributed to the health benefits of brown.
“We used a lot of different data sources to look at the effects of sugar on the health of the human body,” says Michael Kuehn, professor in the Department of Nutrition, Health, and Exercise Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin.
Kuehn has spent years trying to understand what happens in the human gut during digestion, but the findings of his research are still pretty new.
The team found it was possible to get a good estimate of how much of a sugar or fat contributed to a given food’s health effects.
To do this, the team used a technique called gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to look for the compounds that would make up different types of brown or unprocessified rice.
They found that sugars, especially fructose, can contribute to both positive and negative health effects when consumed in large amounts.
“Fructose is a major component of the diet,” Kuehl says.
“What we find in the studies that we’ve looked at is that if you eat a lot sugar, you are likely to consume a lot more of it, which will lead to more negative health consequences.”
What does this mean for health?
Hets team discovered that when it comes to both glycemic and lipid-lowering effects, the difference between brown and unsweetened brown rice was significant.
“Our results indicate that when people consume brown rice for breakfast, they are likely experiencing a significant increase in blood pressure,” Kuhn says.
Hets group also discovered that people who ate more brown rice tended to have a higher triglyceride level, which has been linked to cardiovascular disease.
“People with the highest triglyceride levels are also the most likely to have diabetes,” Kühn says.
These results were especially clear when it came to triglycerides in people with heart disease.
This may have something to do with the fact they tend to have more abdominal fat, which leads to increased levels of triglycerides.
“When you eat large amounts of brown, the fat you eat may not be as healthy,” Kuzminsky says.