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Rice on the rise: Promoting consumption of energy enriched rice products

Innovation is the best practice for development in the society. 

When malnutrition is the country`s major issue then innovative food products might possibly be one of the alternative solutions to explore. Rice is the main staple food in Bangladesh. It is the major source of energy especially by supporting the carbohydrate and protein requirements for not only Bangladeshi people including many other countries of the world. 

People of many countries are dependent on various cereals for food supply such as wheat, barley and so on. Surprisingly it has been proven that rice and rice-based products have more health benefits and preserve local tradition and best use of local resources.  

International diabetes association (IDF) in its IDF Diabetes Atlas 8th Edition 2017, has shown that the prevalence of diabetes is higher in the USA than Bangladesh. While the people of the USA are highly dependent on wheat or wheat-based products such as bread, cake, pizza and so on. On the contrary, the inhabitants of Bangladesh, take rice as the main food in various forms such as unparboiled, parboiled, fermented etc. and suffered less in such diseases.

Hundreds of years, scientists and researchers are working on rice around the world. They found rice contains many essential minerals such as Zn, Cu, Co, Fe, Mg, vitamins (Thiamin, riboflavin etc.) and various antioxidants, which have a great role in metabolic mechanisms and support to prevent various diseases by acting as anti-cancer, anti-inflammation, anti-diabetes, and anti-cardiovascular disease. 

Due to its greater importance, scientists are trying to develop new improved varieties through breeding for higher yield as well as improving their nutritional contents. Among them, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) has released ninety-two (92) high yielding varieties (HYVs) including both inbreed and hybrids until 2018. By this time, Grain Quality and Nutrition Division of BRRI has identified some promising nutritiously enriched HYVs such as black rice, anti-oxidant enriched rice, low glycemic index rice(Low GI),anti-depressive alias gamma-aminobutyric acid(GABA) enriched pre-germinated brown rice and micronutrient enriched rice, especially Zn enriched rice.

In a seminar held in 6th August 10, 2018, Dr. Habibul Bari Shozib exhibited his rice-based products such as the rice biscuit, rice cake and rice bread, which contain 10-15% protein, 20 -25% fat and 4-8% moisture content and with an average shelf life of 7 days for both rice cake and rice bread except rice biscuit which shelf life is more than 3 (three) months. He also discussed the nutrients lost during rice milling especially>10% degree of milling, different baking and rice-based food formulation techniques, the variety of rice used and their characteristics such as antioxidant contents and properties, in vivo animal experiments, etc.

According to Dr. Habibul Bari Shozib, Senior Scientific Officer (SSO) of GQN Division, BRRI, Gazipur approximately 25% of female of our country are suffering from anemia, Zn deficiency  female is 57.3%, , Iodine deficient female is 42.1%, adult high blood pressure patient is 13.5% and adult diabetes patient is 6.89%. Dr. Habibul also cited WHO   reference for a non-communicable disease for Bangladesh, that among total death incident in 2016, around 30% of people died of cardiovascular disease, 12% patient died of cancer, 10% died of chronic respiratory diseases and 3% died of diabetes-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs). 

Since in Bangladesh, few limited rice-based processed items are available namely flattened, popped and puffed rice to meet local demand as traditional food items. We assume that there is a potential scope to enhance nutraceutical enriched rice-based food considering malnutrition mitigation and humanitarian relief operation into account. 

Dr. Habibiul and his team formulated energy-dense nutraceutically enriched rice-based food especially rice cake and rice biscuit having a range from 5.0-5.5 kcal per 100g serving which seems higher than WFP’s high protein biscuit. He has shown that the comparative benefits of rice-based and wheat-based food such as the carbohydrates content in wheat is 81.10% comparatively higher than rice (78%) and the GL and GI is higher in wheat compared to rice which causes higher diabetics rate from wheat-based food consumers. 

Rice-based foods also have the highest digestibility of 99.70% among all types of cereals. In addition, rice-based products are gluten free which is most suitable for children especially autistic children. 

Rice-based balanced and nutritious food intake may possibly reduce the whole rice consumption rate gradually and attain the required dietary allowance that helps to sustainable food security in Bangladesh in a way of proper and effective utilization of the rice grain. It will also open diversified uses and rice-based food products in Bangladesh.

In this seminar, almost all scientists of BRRI were present and they asked many questions to Dr. Habibul and his team and give many important recommendations like using the stickier rice varieties, reduction of moisture level and vacuum packaging and so on. The presence of University students and YPARD members made this event more vibrant and created a bridge between senior professionals and young professionals.