Rice might not be the first ingredient you think of when you hear the word “functional food”, (move over, avocado and chia seed) but germinated brown rice is a nutritious carb source your kitchen might be missing. It’s nutrient-rich and readily available, not to mention delicious. But what is brown rice? And what’s germination? And why is it all good for you?
“Brown rice is a whole grain,” says Bangkok nutritional therapy consultant, Ishika Sachdev. “That means it is a contains all parts of the grain—including the fibrous bran, the nutritious germ and the carb-rich endosperm.” Eating a whole grain versus a processed grain (you know, the regular whites) will deliver your body powerful health benefits. Brown rice is nutritionally superior to white rice, which has been processed to have the bran and germ removed. “The bran and germ are actually the most nutritious parts of the grain,” says Sachdev. “This leaves [white] rice nutritionally empty—in the whole foods world it is called ‘dead’ rice as it’s just 100% refined carbohydrate.”
Then there’s germinated brown rice. This is unpolished brown rice that’s germinated (or sprouted) that not only gets better in terms of flavor and texture (if you’re a fan of nibbling a bit of crunch, this is it, folks), but its nutritional quality is equally essential. Germinated brown rice has fifteen times more gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) than standard brown rice.
GABA is said to help protect the brain from harmful amino acids connected to Alzheimer’s disease. It’s also a powerful neurotransmitter, boosting the central nervous system’s ability to support good sleep and reduce stress (okay then, one more bowl of rice please). On top of GABA, germinated brown rice has gamma oryzanol, an antioxidant that keeps cells healthy and helps your cholesterol levels.
Eating brown rice, particularly germinated brown rice, gives you more bang for your health buck. “Not only does brown rice have more minerals, such as magnesium (which is the mineral that your body is asking for if you are an insomniac or don’t feel rested after sleeping), it also does not spike your blood sugar as white rice does,” says Sachdev. “So it is much safer for diabetics or people with blood sugar trouble.”
Lucky for you, germinated brown rice is one of the easiest nutrient-rich sources of carb to find on the market, literally. Thailand is home to the best rice in the world (you can let your tastebuds be the judge), and grocery stores across the country have just what you need to enjoy germinated brown rice at home. You don’t have to make germinated brown rice yourself. You can find it ready to eat (or drink!) at markets, and in many forms. Try ready-to-eat germinated brown rice, germinated brown rice milk, ‘jok’ congee, or rice-derived protein powder. Your body will thank you later.