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New Study Shows Eating This Grain Can Reduce Your Stress Levels

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February 8, 2023
brown rice tofu bowl
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We’ve known for a long time that eating antioxidant-rich foods can reduce stress levels. One of those foods — brown rice — is full of health-promoting substances like fiber, B vitamins, and minerals. But researchers have just identified a new compound in brown rice responsible for a lot of that goodness.

A study published in The International Journal of Molecular Sciences shows a cytoprotective (a cell-protecting compound) in brown rice, also known as cycloartenyl ferulate, or CAF for short. The CAF compound is unique because it is a hybrid of two kinds of antioxidants: polyphenol and phytosterol.

In the study, led by Dr. Yoshimasa Nakarua at Okayama University in Japan, researchers used heavy amounts of hydrogen peroxide to “stress” human liver cells in a petri dish (abnormal amounts of it can be toxic to cells). Then they treated the cells with the CAF antioxidant and watched the process. The results showed that cells treated with CAF were more strongly protected against the toxicity of hydrogen peroxide.

The most surprising part? The amount of CAF was five times higher than any other antioxidant in brown rice. The fact that CAF is prevalent in such high numbers and also has this unique way of helping to create more antioxidants led the researchers to say that CAF is the main contributing antioxidant found in brown rice. With all those antioxidants, it’s certain that eating brown rice can reduce stress levels.

“Our study can help in the development of new functional foods and supplements based on the functionality of CAFs, like CAF-based nutraceuticals,” observes Dr. Nakamura in a study review.

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How to include brown rice in your diet

Brown rice is easy to include in your diet. It takes a little longer to cook compared to white rice, but the benefits definitely outweigh that slight inconvenience. Plus, there are so many ways to prepare it: in tacos, with a stir fry, fried rice, and paired with nutrient-rich beans. With the high levels of antioxidants courtesy of CAF, you can munch away knowing you’re reducing your stress levels.

Here are a few recipes to help you add more brown rice to your diet and get the creative juices flowing.

Brown Rice Porridge with Coconut Milk, Almonds, and Bananas

Brown rice isn’t just for lunch and dinner! It can be the basis of a hearty, delicious breakfast. Preparing the rice the night before and then warming it up in the morning can save time. Top it with fruit and raw honey for a delicious and nutritious start to the day.

Try our recipe on Clean Plates.

Fruity Brown Rice

Need a quick meal with ingredients already sitting in your pantry? This brown rice side dish includes several shelf-stable pantry items like coconut oil, walnuts, and dried fruit. Keep these items in your pantry to throw this nutrient-packed side dish together in minutes on a busy night.

Try our recipe on Clean Plates.

Spiced Brown Rice Pudding

Looking for something a little different? Try this brown rice pudding. People have been eating rice pudding for centuries, long enough that nobody really knows its origin. It is traditionally made with white rice, but using brown rice allows the pudding to keep a firmer texture and good mouth feel.

Try our recipe on Clean Plates.

Read next: 7 Healthy Brown Rice Recipes to Use Up This Pantry Staple

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