‘Antioxidant properties of rice can prevent cancer’: Dr. Deepthi Wathugala

Tuesday, 7 January 2014 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Text and Pix by P.D. De Silva “Antioxidant properties of rice have an ability to prevent cancer and the low glycemic index of some traditional rice can reduce blood glucose levels and diabetes,” disclosed Dr. Deepthi Lakmini Wathugala presenting a paper titled ‘A review of medicinal and neutraceutical properties of rice’ at the 2nd International Symposium on minor fruits and medicinal plants held at the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Ruhuna recently. “Rice is the life of Asia and in Sri Lanka rice is not just the staple food but is embodied in our culture, religion, local ecology, biodiversity, health and nutrition. Rice is rich in genetic diversity and thousands of varieties are grown around the world. With the introduction of high yielding fertiliser dependent rice varieties, only a few indigenous varieties of rice are grown. With the increase of life style related diseases like cancer, heart diseases and diabetes the health benefits of rice has attracted much attention now. Laboratory studies have shown that rice products have anti-cancer properties and the potential to treat diabetes, kidney stones and heart disease. Although rice is considered as a starchy food it comprises of proteins and essential amino acids, fatty acids, fibre, minerals and vitamins which are essentials for normal body functions. Rice does not contain cholesterol or salt and could be considered as a healthy diet. From ancient times rice based oral rehydration solution has proved better than the glucose based solution. In addition rice is used to treat diarrhoea, vomiting, fever, skin disease, indigestion, blood pressure and chronic constipation. Some traditional uses of rice have been proved by scientific research and study. Rice starch extracts and bran oil is used in a range of toiletries and cosmetic products due to its nourishing and moisturising effect on skin and hair. Study has proved that all the above neutraceutical and medicinal properties of rice are much higher in indigenous varieties specially the red and black rice than the high yielding varieties of rice cultivated today. Therefore it is recommended that the micro nutrient levels of high yielding rice should be increased by combining traditional varieties, methods of farming and modern biotechnology to help rice consumers lead longer and healthier lives.”