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Potential Health Benefits of Wild Rice and Wild Rice Products (Literature Review)

Read the complete report: Potential Health Benefits of Wild Rice and Wild Rice Products (Literature Review)

About This Report
Wild rice has long been considered a live-giving food by the Native Americans, but there have only been a modest number of scientific studies of its potential health benefits. There has been no comprehensive review of the phytochemicals, which are complicated to define, but have potential health benefits.

As the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute looks to add value to Minnesota’s agricultural commodities by creating new products or processes that create new markets, we wanted to explore the possible opportunities to maximize the health benefits of wild rice.

This report summarizes the published literature and the researchers’ own unpublished studies of the potential health benefits of wild rice; discusses opportunities for the use of phytochemicals from wild rice for products to provide health benefits; and suggests research studies related to health benefits.

The report addresses the following:

  • Phytochemicals in wild rice including a list of phytochemicals with potential health benefits.
  • Functional products from wild rice currently in the market place.
    • Summary of animal and human studies conducted with wild rice that may suggest health benefits.
    • Potential projects related to health benefits research and development.

Project Outcomes
This research identifies several potential opportunities for health benefits for wild rice, focusing primarily, but not exclusively, on the phytochemicals in wild rice. Wild rice contains a number of phytochemicals including ferulic acid and phytic acid that have a demonstrated antioxidant effect in vitro. Apigenin is another potentially interesting phytochemical due to its suggested anti-cancer activity. Suberized dietary fiber is also of potential interest since suberized cell walls were described to adsorb carcinogens such as heterocyclic aromatic amines.

The research also identifies several projects related to health benefits research and development. One potential project would be to conduct determinations of the glycemic index using Minnesota cultivated wild rice, so that there is a value tied directly to it. Doing so would ensure that the glycemic index value will be accepted and entered into tables of the glycemic index of foods.

Another potential project involves determining the antioxidant capacity of several samples of wild rice and further examining the antioxidant effect of wild in animals or humans.  The research also showed that if suberization of wild rice cell walls can be confirmed, it is recommended to do research studying the adsorption properties of wild rice dietary fiber for heterocyclic aromatic amines.

AURI will share this research with the wild rice industry including the Minnesota Cultivated Wild Rice Council, wild rice processors, producers and others in the wild rice industry. The report’s findings will also be disseminated to other food processing industries and others interested in furthering the utilization of wild rice in food and health products.