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REVIEW: Wild Rice: Both an Ancient Grain and a Whole Grain

May 2014 Volume 91 Number 3
Pages 207 — 210
Derek A. Timm1 and Joanne L. Slavin1,2

Department of Food Science and Nutrition, 1334 Eckles Avenue, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN, U.S.A. Corresponding author. Phone: (612) 624-7234. Fax: (612) 625-5272. E-mail: jslavin@umn.edu

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Accepted January 13, 2014.

Wild rice (Zizania spp.) grows in shallow waters of North America and is distinct from brown and white rice (Oryza spp.). The recent trends toward gluten-free foods and ancient grains present an opportunity for increased interest in the health benefits of wild rice. Wild rice is classified as a whole grain and typically contains 75% carbohydrate, 6.2% dietary fiber, 14.7% protein, and 1.1% lipids. Wild rice is a good source of dietary fiber and has nearly double the amount of protein of white rice. The lipid content is low; however, most of the lipids are essential omega-6 (35.0–37.8%) and omega-3 (20.0–31.5%) fatty acids. In addition to macronutrient content, wild rice contains phytosterol levels several times higher than white rice. Furthermore, the antioxidant activity of wild rice is 10–15 times higher than white rice. A series of rat studies in which wild rice was added to a high fat, high cholesterol diet found significant attenuation of serum free fatty acids, total cholesterol, and triglyceride levels while maintaining higher high-density lipoprotein levels compared with a control diet. The exact explanation of the protective mechanism of wild rice is uncertain, but the dietary fiber, phytosterol, or antioxidant capacity of wild rice may be the reason for it. Current interest in whole grains and gluten-free diets, as well as antioxidants and phytochemicals, makes wild rice an attractive grain addition to the diet.

© 2014 AACC International, Inc.