Rice agency backs Villar on ‘unli’ rice call

AFTER receiving a lot of criticisms when she asked some restaurants to stop the practice of serving ‘unlimited’ rice to conserve the staple and save Filipinos from some ailments, Senator Cynthia Villar has found an ally in Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) after it issued an advisory advising the public to be responsible with their consumption of the product.

PhilRice , an attached agency of the Department Agriculture is responsible in ensuring that the country will have enough supply of the staple. It is highly also acclaimed for its innovative researches that resulted in various high yielding varieties.

However, the institute, through its recent ‘Be Riceponsible’ campaign has affirmed that eating too much white rice has ill effects to human health.

PhilRice stated that a study by the Harvard School of Public Health in US showed that excessive rice intake may adversely affect glucose metabolism and insulin production of the body which could result in diabetes. 

According to the same study, the carbohydrate content of one (1) bowl of rice is equivalent to more than twice of a can of soft drink and each plate of white rice eaten in a day raises the risk of diabetes by 11% in the overall population.

The ‘Be Riceponsible’ Campaign is DA’s nationwide initiative to promote responsible rice consumption by reducing wastage in households and eating healthier forms of the product such as brown rice.

It aims to encourage farmers, policy-makers, and the public to be ‘Riceponsible’ – or responsible in eating and farming rice in their own ways.

 

Brown Rice

Because of health risks posed by regular white rice, PhilRice is instead promoting brown rice for a better and healthier diet.

“That is the main reason why we are promoting brown or unpolished rice as it has lower glycemic index, which means that it takes longer before it is converted to blood sugar. It also has higher satiety so you tend to eat less. 

Those are the reasons why it is better for diabetics compared with white rice,” explained ‘Be Riceponsible’ campaign director Myriam Layaoen. 

Brown rice is the whole grain or unpolished version of white rice with its cellulose retained and contains superior amount of protein, dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help control blood sugar level, lower bad cholesterol, prevent heart disease and the risk of developing cancer.

 

Policy Shift

The campaign also tries to influence policy directions and involve farmer-cooperatives to make brown rice more accessible and affordable to the general public. 

“We are tapping local governments to issue ordinances and resolutions that will support the advocacy. Meanwhile, we also talk to farmer groups to produce brown rice and sell it at reasonable price. We also partner with food establishments throughout the country to encourage their participation,” Layaoen added. 

She also emphasized that brown rice is just an ordinary rice, but unpolished during milling, with a 10 percent milling recovery higher than ordinary rice, hence getting more produce after milling. 

PhilRice’s new strategic plan strongly promotes competitiveness of farmers and the rice industry as a whole to become profitable, resilient, and sustainable. (Mico Agustin)

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