London, Feb 18 (IANS) Scientists have refined the milling process to create a rice that has all the taste of white rice but many of the health benefits of the brown variety.
Experiments suggest it is good for the heart, helping keep a lid on blood pressure and protecting the arteries from narrowing, reports the American Journal of Hypertension.
And those who find brown rice tough and chewy will be glad to know that the taste is said to be indistinguishable from white rice, according to the Daily Mail.
Brown and white rice both come from the same plant – but white rice is more highly processed, with more layers stripped away.
The subaleurone layer, the thin skin responsible for the the health benefits, is shaved off at the end of the process, when the milled grain is polished to a shine.
But it is left intact in the healthy white rice, which is sold under the brand Kinme Mai in Japan. When heart expert Satoru Eguchi tested this layer in his lab, he showed it could be good for the heart.
His experiments focused on a hormone called angiotensin II, which raises blood pressure by contracting the arteries. It also plays a role in hardening of the arteries by making the cells that line the inside of blood vessels grow.
Eguchi, of Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia in the US, showed that the subaleurone layer blocked angiotensin II’s harmful effects in blood vessel cells in a dish.
He now plans to do tests on animals and then people, to check whether the rice – or a drug that contains its key chemicals in concentrated form – can actually improve cardiac health.