ARS Scientists Improve Nutrients and add Value to Rice Crop


Rice, already the primary staple for half the world’s population, is getting a makeover from a research team in New Orleans, Louisiana. The results are a more healthful grain and many potential new products.

The team, based in the Agricultural Research Service’s Southern Regional Research Center, is making rice a more valuable commodity by developing new technologies that capitalize on the grain’s natural health benefits. Research chemist Stephen Boue says, “We’re interested in processing treatments that enhance resistant starch and other bioactive components.”

Studies are underway to determine Bioactive compound’s role in the prevention of cancer, heart disease, and other diseases. One such development is a rice variety that is more beneficial to human health. Rice contains 76–78 percent starch, and cooked rice typically contains one or two percent of starch that resists digestion, but the newer rice varieties have eight to ten percent resistant starch, or more.

Resistant starch is not digested in the small intestine; rather, it passes through to the large intestine, where it ferments and produces beneficial metabolites.