Rice Utilization and Product Development, 2001

Food scientists at USDA’s Western Regional Research Center in Albany and at UC Davis continued their work on textural properties of rice, shifted the study of the health-promoting properties of rice to diabetes and began analysis of an Asian sprouted rice product.

Rice breeding often utilizes a cross between an agronomically useful California variety with a variety containing potentially desirable characteristics from another foreign location. In this study, researchers examined variation in the textural traits of California 89-Y-103, an experimental line selected for its good agronomic traits, and Hitemobore, a closely related japonica variety noted for good eating quality. The rice was grown at the Rice Experiment Station. Starch characteristics such as amylose content and pasting temperature were compared, as were related factors such as viscosity and gelatinization temperature. The comparison shows a wide range of textural quality is possible.

Diabetes is a major health problem related to obesity that is on the rise in the United States and elsewhere in the world. A proposal was submitted to USDA for a special international research development grant to increase collaboration between U.S. agricultural scientists and food and agricultural scientists in Japan and China. The research will attempt to develop a rice-like product from rice flour and soluble fiber that will aid in retarding “Type II” diabetes. A major U.S. food company will supply the soluble fiber. Basic formulation and process work will be conducted in Albany. This synthetic rice product will be manufactured by Japan National Food Research Institute. Human subject testing will be conducted in China, with oversight by nutritionists from USDA.

Sprouted cereals are popular in Europe and Asia as a source of health-promoting phytochemicals. A shelf-stable, slightly sprouted rice product from Japan thought to contain enhanced nutritional properties is being evaluated in Albany on hamsters. Researchers are comparing the sprouted rice with brown, unsprouted rice as the control. Antioxidants in the test diets will be studied to see how aortic lesion formation is affected. The study may lay the groundwork for a product with small-market potential in the United States and will contribute to the overall healthy image of rice and rice products.

Research also continues on the extraction and evaluation of rice phytosterols to reduce blood cholesterol. Defatted rice bran is being used in this research to determine the bioavailability of flavonoids and other antioxidants that are not in the lipid fraction of the cereal to reduce heart disease symptoms.

Project Leader and Principal Investigators

Wallace H. Yokoyama, USDA, Western Regional Research Center, Albany, CA