Plants

Facts about rice

16 facts about rice

The basis of nutrition for one-third of the world's population

Rice is one of the world's oldest crops. Its homeland is China, where it was domesticated and from there spread across the globe. It has been known and cultivated for 7000 years and currently constitutes the basis of food for one-third of people. It is a product with countless culinary applications. Everyone eats it, and it is a source of many valuable nutrients.
1
Rice (Oryza) is a type of cereal in the Poaceae family.
This family contains about 11,000 species. The panicles are a major component of the grassland formations of meadows and pastures, but it also includes cultivated plants, including cereals.
2
Rice comprising 25 species grows in hot and warm climates around the world.
Food-grade rice, which is the staple food for nearly half the people living in the world, is obtained from the grain of Asian rice (Oryza sativa).
3
Oryza sativa, commonly known as Asian rice, is a type of cultivated rice, the varieties of which are most common around the world.

It is an annual cereal plant with numerous and dense stems, reaching 50-150 cm in height. The stems branch out already at the base. The leaves are 1.5 cm wide and up to 1 meter long.

The flowers are gathered in panicles up to 30 cm long, the spikelets are flat, 1 quill. The flowers are self-pollinating. The fruit is an 8x4 cm caryopsis that contains 30-100 grains.

A characteristic feature of seed rice roots is the presence of aerial crumb (aerenchyma), with large intercellular spaces filled with air.

Aerenchyma is found in underwater plants (rice is grown in waterlogged areas), increasing their buoyancy and facilitating floating.

4
Asian rice has two main subspecies.

Japanese rice (Oryza sativa japonica) - short-grained, sticky. It was domesticated in the Yangtze Valley 9-6 thousand years ago, and its varieties are usually grown in dry fields (mostly submerged in Japan), in East Asia, the highlands of Southeast Asia, and the highlands of South Asia.

Indian rice (Oryza sativa indica) - long-grained, non-sticky rice. It was domesticated around the Ganges 8.5-4.5 thousand years ago. Its varieties are mainly lowland rice, grown mostly underwater throughout tropical Asia.

5
Dry rice and wet rice are distinguished by their cultivation requirements.

Dry rice, known as "mountain" rice, can be grown without irrigation but yields less. It is most commonly grown on the hills in northern China, but contrary to its name, it is also a popular plant in the lowlands in Bengal or Madagascar.

Wet rice - "padi" is a marsh plant that requires shallow water to thrive. There are several thousand varieties of this rice in India and China. Most of them provide grains that are ready for direct consumption when dried.

6
There are several popular varieties of rice, varying in color.
  • White rice - is the most popular variety. White rice grains are polished, as a result of which they are deprived of most nutrients.
  • Brown rice - is rich in nutrients since it is deprived only of the inedible husk surrounding the grain. It has a nutty flavor.
  • Red rice - owes its name to the dark red color of elongated, narrow grains. It is a low-calorie variety with health-promoting properties (effectively lowers cholesterol in the body).
  • Black rice, also called Indonesian or purple rice - contains one of the highest levels of anthocyanins in food, has a mild, nutty flavor.
  • Parboiled rice - is white rice treated with steam under high pressure so it does not lose vitamins and nutrients.
7
The history of rice cultivation is long and complex.

By scientific consensus based on archaeological evidence, it is assumed that seed rice was first domesticated in the Yangtze River basin of China between 13,500 and 8,200 years ago. It reached Korea and Japan between 3,500 and 1,200 BC.

From this first crop, migration and trade spread rice around the world. Initially to much of eastern Asia, then further abroad, and eventually to the Americas as part of the Columbian exchange.

The lesser-known African rice (Oryza glaberrima) was independently domesticated in Africa between 3000 and 3500 years ago.

8
Since its dissemination, rice has become a staple throughout the world.

It was known in the classical world, imported from Egypt and perhaps western Asia. It was known in Greece; the Moors brought Asian rice to the Iberian Peninsula in the 10th century. The Moors may also have brought rice to Sicily, where cultivation began in the 9th century.

After the 15th century, rice spread to Italy and then to France and other European countries.

9
Today, most of the rice produced comes from China, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), Pakistan, the Philippines, Korea, and Japan.
Asian farmers account for 87% of total world rice production.
10
It is one of the most versatile cereals. It is a source of carbohydrates, fiber, protein, polyunsaturated fats, and unpolished varieties additionally provide magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, manganese, copper, selenium and B vitamins.
The human body most easily assimilates the grain, it belongs to the products that are easy to digest. Rice has a beneficial effect on digestion, regulates blood sugar levels, lowers cholesterol levels, acts against diarrhea and is simply delicious.