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 What is GABA Rice?


Rice is an essential food for so many people all over the world, but most especially white rice. While white rice is delicious, these rice grains have been processed to have the bran and germ removed, which are both fibrous and nutritious parts of the rice that provide us with powerful health benefits. 

Brown rice is a whole grain rice option that provides much more nutritional quality compared to its white counterpart, and today’s newest staple food is something called germinated brown rice or GABA rice. If you are looking for a simple and cheap method of improving sleep, assisting the treatment of anxiety disorders, preventing hypertension, and boosting immune system activity, GABA rice may be the answer for you. 

As a result of the sprouting process, germinated brown rice contains an increased amount of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter with calming effects on brain signals and other organs and muscle tone. There are so many more benefits of germinated brown rice as a result of its magic sprouting process, so read on to find out how this sprouted brown rice can improve your daily life.

Is GABA Rice the Same as Regular Brown Rice?

Germinated brown rice, also known as GABA rice, is unpolished brown rice that goes through a sprouting or germination process that not only provides it with better flavor and texture but also better nutritional quality. Germinated brown rice has fifteen times more gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) than standard brown rice.

While all brown rice contains nutrients, such as fiber, phytic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, and GABA, sprouting allows for nutrients stored in the grain to be broken down into more digestible forms by biochemical processes. 

While regular brown rice has a slightly bitter taste, is chewy, and may cause bloating, cooked germinated brown rice has a softer texture, sweeter taste, and is easier to digest. The cooking time for germinated rice versus regular brown rice is also shorter, with a 30 to 35 minute cook time compared with 45 minutes.

Is GABA Rice Healthy?

Because the sprouting process increases its nutritional value and changes its chemical composition, making the soaked seed a sweeter and softer functional food in the process, germinated brown rice is definitely the best alternative to any other rice grain. The nutrients significantly increased during the brown rice sprouting include vitamin E, magnesium, vitamins B1 and B6, potassium, zinc, and in particular, the amino-acid GABA, which doubles its amount during germination.

Gamma-aminobutyric acid is also a powerful neurotransmitter, boosting the ability of the central nervous system for balancing mood, supporting good sleep, reducing stress, and having an overall calming effect. On top of GABA, germinated brown rice has gamma oryzanol, an antioxidant that keeps cells healthy and helps your cholesterol levels. Fans of GABA rice also say that it’s less irritating to the digestive tract and less likely to promote allergic reactions than regular rice.

A nutritional powerhouse, GABA rice also features other health benefits in addition to better digestibility. Consuming GABA rice over time may also help lower blood pressure, improve kidney function, regulate the sleep cycle, boost the immune system, stimulate growth hormones, and prevent hypertension, high cholesterol, kidney failure, diabetes, tumor proliferation, and Alzheimer’s disease. It has also been noted that the amount of GABA in germinated brown rice is 10 times higher than in milled white rice and twice as high as in regular brown rice.

GABA supplements are also popular supplements to be taken, known for helping with stress relief, anxiety, high blood pressure, and insomnia. However, it has yet to be scientifically proved how much of the supplementary GABA actually reaches your brain.

What does GABA Rice/ Germinated Brown Rice Taste Like?

GABA brown rice has a softer texture than brown rice as well as a nuttier flavor. The germinated rice grain is soaked in warm water prior to cooking, with the warm soak inducing germination, or sprouting, which stimulates rice enzymes to produce more nutrients.

What Does GABA Mean on Rice Cooker?

The GABA brown rice or sprouted brown rice function uses specific timing and temperatures so the brown rice is allowed to germinate. When you select the GABA function on rice cookers like Zojirushi, they will soak and activate the brown rice for you using their fuzzy logic control after which they begin to cook and be brought to a full boil. During its cooking time, the inner bowl and its contents are kept at a specific temperature for part of the cooking process, enabling the brown rice to ‘sprout’.

Final Note

When it comes to the food we’re cooking and eating, we can sometimes forget the effects they have on our mental health alongside our physical wellbeing. GABA rice is a great way for regular rice-eaters like us to get better nutritional integrity from the key food we eat every day.

Hui Yin

Hui Yin moved from Hong Kong 🇭🇰 to the USA 🇺🇸 when she was just 8 years old. Now in her late 20's she enjoys writing and taking long walks in the park to burn off the copious amounts of rice she eats for dinner.

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