34 & NATURE’S BEAUTY May 2016 | Read this issue and more at www.healthandwellnessmagazine.net | Like us @healthykentucky IT’S A NICE ADDITION TO YOUR DIET By Tanya Tyler, Editor/Writer Many of us have probably done it: showered a newly married couple with rice as they emerged from a church, ready to begin their lives together. We might not have thought much about the tiny white grains we sent sailing through the air (and no, rice does not make birds’ stomachs burst after eating it), but rice is one of the most widely eaten foods in the world, especially in China, India, Indonesia, Japan and Southeast Asia. More than 3 billion people around the world depend on rice as the staple of their diet, according to the U.S. Rice Producers Association. Rice is third in worldwide production after sugar and maize. In Thailand, the phrase translated “to eat” literally means “to eat rice.” Rice has been part of the human diet for more than 10,000 years, originating in China’s Pearl River Valley region. Arabian travelers Rice introduced rice into ancient Greece, and Alexander the Great brought it to India. There are more than 40,000 varieties of rice. Some you may be familiar with include Arborio; basmati; jasmine; and forbidden rice, a black rice that turns purple when cooked and has a sweet taste and sticky texture. Rice is generally classified as long, medium or short grained. When rice is cooked, the kernels swell to at least three times their original size. Rice kernels do not contain vitamin A, so people There are more than 40,000 varieties of rice. who get most of their calories from rice are at risk of vitamin A deficiency. Rice is gluten and fat free, low in sodium and an excellent source of complex carbohydrates. Brown rice is the best choice for eating because it uses the entire grain; only the inedible outer husk has been removed. The high-fiber bran coating gives brown rice its light tan color, a nutlike flavor and a chewy texture, and the oil in whole brown rice lowers cholesterol. In contrast, white rice has had the husk, bran and germ removed. Brown rice is an excellent source of manganese, selenium (a trace mineral that has been shown to substantially reduce the risk of colon cancer), phosphorus, copper, magnesium and niacin (vitamin B3). Milling and polishing rice makes it lose a significant amount of its nutrients. According to The Food Network, enriched or con- verted rice contains calcium, iron and many B-complex vitamins, but brown rice is slightly richer in all these nutrients because they are more natural. Research is showing brown rice and other whole grains substantially lower the risk for type 2 diabetes. Rice can grow in diverse venues, from terraced hills to flooded rice paddies. Small rice seedlings are hand planted into rice paddies that are then filled with water. Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi and Texas grow 76 percent of the rice produced in the United States. California supplies almost all of America’s sushi rice, according to the California Rice Commission. And why do people throw rice at newlyweds? It’s to ensure they have good luck, health, prosperity and fertility. You’d probably be better off eating rice than throwing it.