|Rice Utilization &
Project Leader and Principal UC Investigators
Wallace H. Yokoyama, research chemist, USDA, Western Regional Research Center, Albany, CA
|Food scientists at the USDA's Western Regional Research Center
in Albany and at UC Davis continued their work on textural properties of rice and the
antioxidant and cancer-fighting properties of rice bran.
Baby food studied
The use of rice in processed foods is the fastest growing segment of the industry. Convenience and uniformity in manufacturing is extremely important. Therefore finding methods to measure differences in product quality is essential.
One set of experiments examined variation in the starch composition and thickening properties of rice used in processed baby foods. The problem is significant for this type of food because a fixed amount of rice must provide both the required amount of caloric nutrition and the correct amount of viscosity, or thickness. The thickener must also have good storage characteristics.
True amylose content of rice flour milled from M-202 harvested between 1995 and 1998 was analyzed, as were the molecular characteristics of the other form of starch, amylopectin. Variations in the starch were noted between years. In this case the cause of that variation was determined to be the amount of amylose, which can be affected by growing temperature.
The use of "phytochemicals" to improve health will become more important to the health and economies of developed countries as their populations grow older and become more susceptible to chronic disease. Research has shown that phytosterols, compounds found in rice bran, can improve health and delay the onset of heart disease. Other phytochemicals in rice have the potential to reduce heart disease. In 1999 food scientists demonstrated that oryzanol is as effective as phytosterols used in commercial cholesterol-reducing margarines.
Studies last year focused on the cholesterol-lowering properties of other phytosterols such as stanol esters. They also examined cholesty-ramine, a prescription cholesterol reducing fiber that is effective but works by binding bile acids rather than interfering with cholesterol absorption. Their findings suggest that oryzanol is still the most effective cholesterol-lowering compound in rice bran. Future work will focus on delivering oryzanol to the body.