All about rice
Rice and nutritionRice and us

Rice forms an integral part of the culinary traditions of many different cultures. Each has its own particular set of preferences regarding the texture, taste, colour and stickiness of rice

Rice is the staple food for 17 countries in Asia and the Pacific, eight countries in Africa, seven countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, and one in the Near East.

When all developing countries are considered together, rice provides 27% of dietary energy supply and 20% of dietary protein intake. However, while rice provides a substantial amount of dietary energy, it has an incomplete amino acid profile and contains limited amounts of essential micronutrients. Today, more than 2,000 million people suffer from micronutrient malnutrition. Malnutrition reduces adult's productivity and children's ability, and leads to premature death, particularly among women and children. Nutritional considerations, therefore, are essential to the IYR and the concept that Rice is Life.

Although there needs to be greater documentation on the nutritional properties of different rice varieties, there is considerable evidence that not all have equal nutritional value.  Rice is a crop rich in genetic diversity - the rice species Oryza sativa L. has thousands of varieties belonging to sub-groups of indica, japonica, tropical japonica, glutinous and aromatic.

In West Africa, O. glaberrima Steud. adds to the diversity of rice. In the limited number of varieties studied, iron and zinc can range between 1-6 mg and protein between 5-14 g per 100g of rice.  If better utilized, these varieties with higher nutritional value could contribute to reducing the global burden of malnutrition.

Most commonly, due to tradition and preference, rice is milled, yielding white rice.  While this process reduces cooking time and increases storage life, it also removes a large percentage of many nutrients including protein, fibre, fat, iron and B vitamins. People in a number of countries parboil rice grains to preserve the nutrients naturally present in rice. Fortification techniques can be used to add essential vitamins and minerals to the grain.  Unfortunately, this practice is not widespread in many rice consuming countries due to limited infrastructure for processing, regulatory control and marketing of fortified foods.