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TEMPLE STUDY POINTS TO CARDIOVASCULAR BENEFITS OF BROWN RICE

May 5, 2010

BY:  Virginia Sheaffer, vsheaffe@temple.edu and

        Giselle Zayon, gzayon@temple.edu

 

Akira Takaguri, PhD (left) and Satoru Eguchi, MD, PhD of Temple University School of Medicine's Cardiovascular Research Center and Department of Physiology. Photo by Virginia Sheaffer, Temple University School of Medicine.

Akira Takaguri, PhD (left) and Satoru Eguchi, MD, PhD of Temple University School of Medicine's Cardiovascular Research Center and Department of Physiology.  Photo by Virginia Sheaffer, Temple University School of Medicine.

 

Rice, particularly brown rice, has been the most-consumed food through the millennia. Eaten by over half of the world’s population, rice sustains millions as a dietary staple.

 

Nutritionists have known that brown rice consumption helps to maintain normal cholesterol and blood sugar levels. And now a researcher in the Cardiovascular Research Center at Temple University School of Medicine, Satoru Eguchi, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Physiology, is conducting research proving that brown rice can also lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

 

Dr. Eguchi and co-investigators at Japan’s Wakayama Medical University recently discovered that brown rice contains a substance capable of combating angiotensin II, an octapeptide found in blood that causes vasoconstriction, which results in increased blood pressure.

 

“Our research suggests that there is an ingredient in rice (the ethyl acetate extract from the subaleurone layer) that may be a good starting point for looking into preventive medicine for cardiovascular diseases,” said Dr. Eguchi. “We hope to present this as an additional health benefit of consuming half-milled or brown rice [as opposed to white rice] as part of a regular diet.”

 

The substance in rice that appears to combat vessel constriction is the layer that is stripped away in the production of white rice, known as the subaleurone layer. Rich in oligosaccharides and dietary fibers, this layer can be preserved in incompletely-milled (Kinmemai) and half-milled (Haigami) rice, both popular in Japan.

 

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Dr. Eguchi says that further in vivo studies are necessary to conclude that extracts from the subaleurone layer of rice might represent a potential new therapeutic agent for cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension and atherosclerosis.

 

He further theorizes that his findings may help explain why fewer people die of heart disease in Japan, where most people eat at least one rice dish per day than in the United States, where rice has not been a major part of a daily diet.

 

Brown rice consumption is rising in the United States, whereas over the past 50 years consumption of brown rice has decreased by half in Japan due to the popularity of the Western style diet. Consequently, the incidence of heart disease in Japan has almost doubled, suggesting a correlation between the Western style diet and the increased incidence of cardiovascular disease.

 

According to the American Heart Association, approximately 81 million Americans suffer from some form of cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease, stroke, heart failure and high blood pressure. Cardiovascular disease accounts for almost 6 million hospitalizations in the United States each year.

 

Dr. Eguichi and his colleague, Dr. Akira Takaguri, presented their findings at the annual 2010 Experimental Biology conference held in Anaheim, California, on April 24 to 28.  The study has been covered in numerous publications, including U.S. News & World Report, Science News and Business Week.