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Scientists develop 'Healthy White Rice'

Saturday, February 19, 2011

/ Published by Simon L Infimate
London, Feb 18: Scientists have developed a new rice variety which they say tastes like white rice but has all the health benefits of the brown.

Researchers who refined the milling process to create the special rice said the new variety is good for the heart, helping keep a lid on blood pressure and protecting the arteries from narrowing.

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, they said.

In white rice, the subaleurone layer -- the thin skin responsible the heart 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, the Daily Mail reported.

Satoru Eguchi, a heart expert at the Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, tested this layer in his lab and found that it could be good for the heart.

His study 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.

Dr Eguchi's study showed that the subaleurone layer blocked angiotensin II s harmful effects in blood vessel cells in a dish.

Working out just how the subaleurone layer does this could lead to new drugs to combat high blood pressure and heart disease, the researchers said.

Dr Eguchi said: "Our research suggests that there is a potential ingredient in rice that may be a good starting point for looking into preventive medicine for cardiovascular diseases."

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.

In the meantime, he advised those who find brown rice too chewy to try the healthier variety.

He said: "Kinme Mai tastes the same as white rice. The company says that it smells and tastes better but, to me, it is indistinguishable from white rice.

"It is slightly more expensive but it taste better than brown rice."

The findings were published in the American Journal of Hypertension. PTI SKP KIM SKP

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