The Nigerian local rice, popularly called "ofada rice" or "abakiliki rice", have been accepted and preferred by many citizens of Nigeria today because of the health benefits it has, compared to other alternative rice (white rice). The name "ofada" and "abakiliki" originated from the two different communities in Nigeria (Mowe Ofada and Abakiliki) which are specialised in producing this local type of rice. The name "ofada", originated from Mowe Ofada in Ogun state, in the South-western part of Nigeria while that of "abakiliki" came from Abakiliki, Ebonyi state, in the South-eastern part of Nigeria.
Rice is one of the major staple food in Nigeria today, there is hardly anyone in this part of the world who does not include rice in his or her diet at least once in a week. The most common rice found in Nigeria today is the polished rice, which have passed through many process or redefining before it is been sold in the market. The locally grown type is the short grained, brown rice which is usually unpolished and unrefined with part of the bran remaining intact. It is sold in the market, retaining this same form.
Choice between the polished and unpolished rice
The surprising fact is the even though the locally made Nigerian rice is not as refined as the polished or regular rice, and most times abandoned by many for the white rice, it possesses more nutritional and health benefits than the later. The reason many people will choose the polished rice is because to the locally made, unpolished rice is because of the stress they go through in picking the stones from the later as compared to the former which is already very clean and ready to be cooked in lesser minutes.
Many people are still yet to be aware that the locally made rice contains for nutritional and health benefits compared to the foreign polished rice. Speaking from the technical point of view, polishing removes the "Aleurone layer" of the rice grain. The Aleurone layer is a layer that is rich with health supportive, essential fats. Once this fats are exposed to air during the refining process, they became susceptible to oxidation. Hence, the layer is removed in order to extend the shelf life of the rice. In summary, the end product (polished rice) is just a refined rice that is lacking its original nutrients.
Unlike the polished rice which has been stripped of its major nutrients such as vitamins, iron, magnesium, zinc and some other nutrients during the process of refining, the locally made Nigerian rice still maintains this basic nutrient because it still contains the aleurone layer, which makes it healthier than the polished rice.
Since we have differentiated the nutritional attributes of both the polished, foreign rice and the unpolished, Nigerian local rice, let us now look at some health benefits which the local rice gives to us.
Health benefits of the Nigerian local rice (Ofada or Abakiliki rice)
1. It makes the bone to be healthyThe locally made Nigerian is highly rich in magnesium, which highly important for the bone health. Just by consuming a cup of this locally made, unpolished rice, you will be provided with 21% of the daily recommended intake of magnesium. Magnesium is also needed for the absorption of calcium. Calcium is another essential nutrient needed for optimum health of our bones.
2. It reduces the risk of acquiring breast cancerThe Nigerian local rice contains a phyto-nutrient called "lignin", which helps in reducing the risks of breast cancer and heart disease. A study conducted on various elderly women discovered that eating unpolished rice increases the level of Enterolactone in them. Enterolactone is a phytoestrogen produced by intestinal mucroflora from precursors in plant foods such as grains, it has been reported to be associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer.
3. It reduces the risk heart diseaseBecause of its high fibre content, it helps in reducing the risk of heart disease. It achieves this by lowering the blood pressure and decreasing the risk of plaque build up in the arteries, thereby preventing the development of heart disease.
4. It lowers the blood cholesterolThe locally made unpolished rice has the ability of lowering the blood's cholesterol level. This is achieved because of the oil and fibre content of the rice.
5. It helps in maintaining the health of the nervous systemThe high magnesium content of the locally made, unpolished rice is important and helps in maintaining a healthy nervous system. The nutrients also helps in the production of sex hormones by synthesizing fatty acids and producing cholesterontain.
6. It prevents constipationThe locally made rice in Nigeria is very beneficial for the digestive system of humans because it promotes healthy bowel movements, thereby enabling the prevention of constipation.
7. It helps in maintaining the normal body weightConsuming the locally made rice helps in maintaining the normal body weight because it makes you to feel full after eating it. This is because of the high fibre content, which controls the calorie intake by making us to feel full, thereby reducing the opportunity of overeating.
8. it helps in controlling the blood sugar levelThe unpolished rice helps is regulating the blood sugar level and also in controlling diabetes. It achieves this purpose because of the presence of soluble fibres. Soluble fibres have the potencies of swelling up when they come in contact with water, thereby forming a viscous gel with water. This gel slows down the passage of food within the alimentary canal and gives the body enough time to properly absorb the nutrients from the food. This process slows down the release of glucose into the blood.
9. It reduces the severity of asthmaThe unpolished, Nigerian locally made rice is capable of reducing the severity of asthma because of the high content of manganese and magnesium present in it.
Now you have the knowledge about the amazing health benefits of this locally made Nigerian rice, i guess you will prefer it to the polished, foreign one.