The Health Benefits of Pre-Germinated Brown Rice
Pre-germinated rice (PR) is an emerging health food whereby brown rice is soaked in warm water prior to cooking; the warm bath induces germination, or sprouting, which stimulates rice enzymes to produce more nutrients.
One such nutrient is the important brain chemical GABA (PR is thus often referred to as “GABA rice “), and animal studies have shown that a PR-rich diet can improve cognitive function. Other studies have found that PR can also act as an anti-diabetic.
The chemicals behind this effect were unknown, but now Robert Yu and colleagues used mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance approaches and identified the bioactive compounds as ASGs, a diverse family of molecules that consists of a glucose derivative, fatty acids, and sterols. The ASGs were concentrated in the rice bran (outer layer) and not the seed, so they would not be found in white rice .
The researchers then demonstrated that the ASGs had the ability to activate enzymes related to diabetes, and this activation required the acyl chemical group; regular steryl glucosides (SGs) had no effect. And, although ASGs are found in many plants, soybean derived ASGs had no effect on the diabetic enzymes, indicating the ASG complement specific to rice may be unique in its diabetic benefits.
Sprouted brown rice (also called germinated brown rice ) is regular brown rice that has been soaked for 12 to 24 hours and allowed to germinate before it is cooked. Fans of the product say that it’s less irritating to the digestive tract and less likely to promote allergic reactions than regular rice and believe that its nutrients are better absorbed. However, all rice is generally considered a non-irritating food and is unlikely to produce allergic reactions in most people. Rice is a good source of water-soluble B vitamins, and because the water in which the rice soaks is discarded, we might be concerned about loss of those nutrients. I can’t find a complete nutrient analysis to see whether or not there is a significant loss. Emerging research suggests that sprouted brown rice may contain compounds that promote blood sugar control. However, the studies showing an advantage for diabetes are generally comparing sprouted brown rice to refined white rice ; there’s usually no difference compared to regular brown rice . Whether or not it’s actually healthier than regular brown rice , some people prefer it simply for its softer texture and mildly nutty flavor. People who have trouble making the move from white to brown rice may find the taste and texture of sprouted brown rice a good mid-point between the two.
1. Seigo Usuki, Toshio Ariga, Somsankar Dasgupta, Takeshi Kasama, Keiko Morikawa, Shota Nonaka, Yasuhide Okuhara, Mitsuo Kise, and Robert K. Yu. Structural analysis of novel bioactive acylated steryl glucosdies (ASGs) in pre-germinated brown rice bran. Journal of Lipid Research.
2. American Institute for Cancer Research