Brown rice may help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attack

( Americans know brown rice is good for heart health, but a new study suggests it may be even healthier than originally thought. Researchers at Temple University have found a compound in brown rice may lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of plaque build-up in the arteries, which in turn decreases the possibility of a heart attack.

Brown rice vs. white rice
White rice is milled to remove the husk, bran and germ from the grain. While this helps reduce spoilage, it also removes many of the healthy nutrients and compounds found in rice.

Brown rice has the hard husk removed, but the other layers remain intact. It is one of these layers that became the focus for the Temple University study.

Cardiovascular benefits of brown rice
Researchers discovered the subaleurone layer in brown rice (between the white and brown layers) contains a substance important to cardiovascular health. This substance counteracts a protein that causes blood vessels to constrict, which pushes up blood pressure and makes it easier for plaque and clots to form. High blood pressure and plaque build-up are key factors in heart disease and heart attack.

The subaleurone layer is removed in white rice when the grains are polished after milling. This may partially explain why countries such as Japan, where incompletely milled rice is consumed on a daily basis, have lower rates of cardiovascular disease and heart attack deaths as compared to the US where white rice is more popular.

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