White rice has long been the cornerstone of most Latin and Asian diets. Yet it is the unadulterated version of this staple that is causing a global stir. White rice is brown rice – stripped naked. Don’t worry no one is going to ask you to stop eating rice, but you may consider at which step in the processing you buy this tasty grain. Luckily, brown rice is grown and sold here in Costa Rica.
What is the real different between white and brown rice you may ask? Brown rice is a whole grain. Note to self; “whole” being the key word. Any time you can eat any food in its whole form it is more nutritious. White rice on the other hand is that same brown rice after it has been refined, polished, and the bran covering and most nutritional value removed. White rice is so devoid of what you need that you will often find “enriched” printed on the packaging as companies are often forced to chemically alter or add nutrients back into the rice to make it nutritious.
Let’s start with the bran covering. It serves as a garden rake and cleans your colon as it moves through. Studies have shown that it will even attach to cancer causing substances in your colon and send them on their way. Selenium, a trace mineral, is also in brown rice, which has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.
For diabetics, brown rice has a lower glycemic index than white, which means it keeps blood sugar stabilized through a slow release of sugar. Credible research clearly links white rice consumption and Type 2 diabetes – even with modest intake levels. Other studies have shown brown rice to assist with weight loss while white rice is linked to weight gain.
Not diabetic? You should still pay your respects to the earthy toned grain. We live in a time when our often gloriously packaged foods including fruits and vegetables are big and more beautiful than ever yet have fewer nutrients than ever. That means we need to seize the opportunities to put goodness into our bodies when and where we can.
A couple of tips: if you find, it buy it. Costa Rica has shortages of brown rice from time to time, particularly the organic. The shelf life is about 6-8 months (white rice – up to 10 years!). When you find it, store it in your refrigerator.
Look for it, you will find places that sell it and offer it on the menu. Both Samara and Nosara have farmer’s markets where it is available. If you are hungry and in Nosara stop in Robin’s Café & Ice Cream. There you will find gallo pinto, arroz con pollo and other dishes made with brown rice. If you are in Samara, stop by The Natural Center and visit Samara Organics Café that sells organic brown rice by the bag or serves gallo pinto and other specials with this healthy alternative.
Surely there are more stores or restaurants that offer it so just ask – if they don’t perhaps they will consider it next time they order – start a movement and support that local farmer!