Published online in the Journal of Lipid Research, the study suggests that a compound that helps rice seed grow springs back into action when brown rice is placed in water overnight before cooking, and thereby significantly reduces the nerve and vascular damage that often result from diabetes.
Experts behind this work say that the growth factor acylated steryl glucosides (ASG) works by normalizing blood sugar and enzymes that are out-of-whack in diabetes.
"The advantage of knowing this key ingredient and its structure is we can now make a ton of it; you don't have to rely on rice to produce it or eating rice to get this beneficial effect," Dr. Robert K. Yu, director of the Institute of Molecular Medicine and Genetics and Institute of Neuroscience at the Medical College of Georgia.
He has revealed that his studies involved animal models of type 1 diabetes with two different blood sugar levels that reflected patients' varying blood sugars.
Dr. Yu and his colleagues fed the subjects diets of white, brown or pre-germinated brown rice.
Unlike white rice, less-processed brown rice still has some of the germ or growth structure that, after about 24 hours in water, resumes activity.
The researchers watched as the resurrected ASG, a growth factor and lipid, helped normalize metabolism. When blood sugar levels increase, the metabolic balance changes. Part of the way we know this growth factor works is by increasing levels of good enzymes that are decreased in diabetes," says Dr. Seigo Usuki, neurobiologist in the MCG School of Medicine and the paper's first author.
The germ layer activated by soaking brown rice contains many vitamins and minerals in addition to the bioactive ingredient that would be beneficial to everyone, Dr. Yu says.
The roughage of the rice grain also is helpful, he adds.
The researchers have already started working on a supplement that can provide consumers who prefer not to soak or eat rice with the benefits of ASG.