PhilRice promotes healthier rice options for improved well-being

Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is promoting the adoption of healthier rice options for the improved well-being of Filipinos.

This initiative is prompted by the ingrained preference for white rice which is a common part of Filipino meals.

PhilRice Rice Chemistry and Food Science Division Food Scientist Marissa Romero highlighted the importance of moderating white rice consumption. 

This is especially crucial considering the rapid conversion of white rice into sugar, posing potential risks to blood sugar levels and the possibility of elevated carbohydrate levels.

To address these concerns, Romero advocates a shift towards healthier rice options such as brown rice, red rice, black rice, and golden rice or also known as “malusog” rice.

Starting with brown rice, Romero shared testimonials attesting to weight loss and the numerous health benefits of brown rice, which is rich in fiber and essential vitamins.

“[Brown rice] has a lot of fiber, so when you eat it, you feel full with just a small amount. It helps in losing weight, and aside from that, it has many vitamins. So, it is genuinely healthy if we eat brown rice daily,” Romero said.

For those less inclined towards brown rice, Romero recommended a gradual transition by blending it with white rice, allowing the palate to adapt.

Distinguishing between black and red rice, Romero explained that both are pigmented varieties with natural antioxidants, such as anthocyanin. 

Moreover, she emphasized the nutritional value of these rice varieties, which potentially benefits overall health.

“[Anthocyanin] provides the color to our black and red rice, similar pigments or natural colors that we see in fruits and vegetables, that are somewhat black, purple, reddish. So, that’s the advantage,” Romero said.

Introducing the latest addition to healthier rice choices, Romero discussed the golden rice or “malusog” rice. 

This unique rice variety, rich in beta-carotene like carrots or tomatoes, addresses the globally prevalent issue of vitamin A deficiency.

“Some people think that when there is a vitamin A deficiency, it only affects our eyesight. However, what many don’t realize is that when we lack vitamin A, our immune system weakens. So, if your immune system weakens and you get infections, it may lead to death,” Romero said.

In addition, she also highlighted the lasting impact of vitamin A deficiency on brain development in children, underscoring the irreversible consequences of malnutrition. 

Romero urged mothers to consider the long-term effects of inadequate nutrition.

Furthermore, she stressed the significance of golden rice in addressing vitamin A deficiency, especially in vulnerable populations like children under five, pregnant women, lactating mothers, and the elderly. 

This rice variety is specifically tailored to meet the nutritional needs of these groups.

Lastly, Romero encouraged Filipinos to explore healthier rice options, dispelling the notion that white rice is the only choice.

As 2024 began, she emphasized the opportunity to try different varieties, gradually incorporating them into daily meals for improved health.

For more information, individuals may contact the PhilRice text center hotline at 0917-111-7423. (CLJD/MAECR-PIA 3)

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