Sprouted Brown Rice: Health Benefits and How-To

Are you on a quest to increase the variety of whole grains at your table? There is a different kind of brown rice on the market these days: sprouted brown rice. Sprouted brown rice is exactly that – brown rice that has been allowed to sprout or germinate before cooking. Sprouted brown rice is sometimes sold as GABA rice, or under its Japanese name hatsuga genmai.

Sprouted Brown Rice

Nutrition Tidbits for Sprouted Brown Rice

A quarter cup of uncooked sprouted brown rice (which yields close to 1 cup cooked) contains:

  • Calories: 190 kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 41 g
  • Fat: 2 g
  • Protein: 4  g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Glycemic Index: Low

The process of germination changes the nutritional composition of the rice. While the macronutrient (carbohydrate, protein, and fat) contents and calories of brown rice and sprouted brown rice are similar, sprouted brown rice contains higher levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), magnesium, potassium, and zinc, as well as the phytonutrients ferulic acid and gamma oryzanol. This is why sprouted or germinated brown rice is sometimes  referred to as “GABA rice.” Note that this doesn’t mean regular brown rice lacks these nutrients; the sprouting process simply makes these nutrients more available.

GABA exists in the body as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system and has an inhibitory or calming effect. Magnesium plays a role in many metabolic functions, and its role is being studied in the prevention and treatment of diabetes and other cardiovascular diseases. Potassium has a blood pressure-lowering effect, and zinc is needed for proper immune function and wound healing. Emerging research on germinated or sprouted brown rice suggests regular consumption of it has beneficial effects on blood cholesterol and diabetes, and it is also being studied in the prevention of some allergies. Phytonutrients in brown rice, as in many other plant-based foods, have been shown to have antioxidant properties.

As with many whole grains, it is possible to sprout brown rice at home. However, if you are pressed for time, store-bought sprouted brown rice may be more convenient. The sprouted brown rice you buy has been dried after sprouting so it can be stored just as easily as regular brown rice.

In her book Go UnDiet, Gloria Tsang talks about how sprouted brown rice can be an appealing alternative to those who dislike the chewiness of most whole grains. Cooked sprouted brown rice is softer in texture than regular brown rice. In addition, sprouted brown rice can finish cooking within 10 minutes, whereas regular brown rice  typically takes about 45 minutes.

How to Get More Sprouted Brown Rice In Your Diet

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