Brown rice wins FDA health claim

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition

Brown rice has been added to the FDA-approved list of whole grains
that may make health claims including reducing the risk of heart
disease and some cancers.

Brown rice, along with many other grains was prewviously excluded because its dietary fiber content was considered too low, but this requirement has been relaxed. The health claim means brown rice products will be able to bear a whole grains logo and information pointing out the benefits of consuming whole grains. "This is a milestone event,"​ said Al Montna, chairman of the USA Rice Federation. "Today brown rice joins the recognized ranks of healthful foods that are entitled to make this claim. Having this information on packages of brown rice will help consumers increase whole grain consumption and reduce their risk of heart disease and some cancers." ​The claim states: "Diets rich in whole grain foods and other plant foods and low in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers."Whole grain gains ​US Dietary Guidelines recommend "making half of all grain servings whole"​ or consuming three whole grain servings per day in the average 2000-calorie diet. Yet data from a recent consumer survey conducted by EatingWell​ magazine and the USA Rice Federation show that the majority of Americans (65 percent) don't eat anywhere this amount. Under the reform, all single ingredient whole grain foods are eligible to make the health claim as long as they meet broad health claim requirements. The dietary fiber aspect of the health claim has been a bone of contention since 1999 when the claim was established because it favored high fiber content over total nutritional composition. The fiber relaxation will please groups such as the flax industry that are yet to receive the approval brown rice has won, a cause of acrimony to an industry that feels unfairly persecuted by anachronistic laws. The low-down on brown ​ Brown rice contains antioxidants, anthocyanins, phytosterols, tocopherols, oryzanol and other nutrients that have been found to help reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, type II diabetes and aid in weight maintenance. It also possesses 15 vitamins and minerals, including B-vitamins, potassium, magnesium, selenium, iron, and two grams of fiber per one half cup of cooked rice. According to Mintel's Global New Products Database (GNPD), between 2003 and 2006, the number of new whole grain product launches fairly doubled every year - from 64 in 2003, to 140 in 2004, to 346 in 2005, to 620 in 2006. According to the EatingWell/USA Rice survey:

  • 87 percent of US consumers know that whole grains are good for them.

  • 80 percent know whole grains can be protective against cardiovascular disease, but less than two-thirds are aware they also offer protection against certain cancers.

  • While 80 percent of consumers know that brown rice is a whole grain, more than 80 percent also mistakenly think that bran cereal and breads marked simply as "wheat" are also whole grains.

  • 80 percent of individuals said they would be likely to eat more whole grains if these foods were clearly labeled as whole grains

  • 68 percent said they would increase consumption if the health benefits were stated on the package.

Research indicates rice eaters are more likely to meet Dietary Guidelines than non-rice eaters. "Rice is the most popular grain around the world, which makes brown rice a great choice for increasing whole grain intake,"​ says Joann Slavin, PhD, RD, whole grains expert and professor of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota. "In the United States, where chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancers are common, encouraging whole grain brown rice consumption could have a significant public health impact."

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