A compound in brown rice called acylated steryl glucoside (ASG) can significantly reduce the chances of the nerve and vascular damage that often results from type 1 diabetes.
Researchers at the Institute of Molecular Medicine and Genetics and Institute of Neuroscience at the Medical College of Georgia found that when they soaked brown rice overnight before feeding it to laboratory animals, the moisture reactivated the grain’s ASG, a compound that helps rice seeds grow.
It turns out that ASG helps normalize enzyme and blood sugar levels that can go awry with diabetes. Scientists have noted brown rice’s usefulness in helping diabetics lower their blood sugar levels, but until the Georgia researchers hit on the presoaking protocol, they were never sure why.
Generally speaking, rice-even brown rice-is a starchy food that people with diabetes are likely to avoid. But according to the Institute director, Dr. Robert K. Yu, now that scientists have confirmed the usefulness of ASG, “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.”
ASG is lost when rice is refined, so the compound is not found in white rice. However, it remains, dormant, in brown rice. Soaking the rice in water, which imitates the wet conditions of a rice paddy, reactivates the compound.