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Once upon a time, a widow and her young child lived together in a little house. The woman took great care of her child, cosseted him, worked hard to raise him and expected filial piety in return. She always saved the better portions of food for her son. However, the  spoiled son became apathetic to his mother. One day the mother fell ill and was unlikely to live. She summoned her son and told him that on the day she died, there would be a little grain of gold near her bed. She asked him to put it in a pot, soak it in water and dedicate it to the king in exchange for an abundance of silver and gold. Afterwards the mother passed away. The son followed his mother’s advice. He saw a gold grain by her bed, then put it in a pot, soaked it and travelled to the court to exchange it for silver and gold.

The journey from his home to the court took seven months and he ran out of food. Hungry and thirsty, with no money left, he begged for food and stayed overnight in strangers’ houses. Through all the hardship, he realized how his mother had toiled to bring him up. He was deeply sorry for his lack of filial piety and stubbornness.

At the entrance of the court palace, a miracle happened. A heavy grass rose from the pot, bringing forth golden grains and a tender aroma. Once cooked, the grains tasted quite buttery.

In memory of his mother and her immense affection, the son decided not to dedicate these grains to the king, and instead distributed them to his fellow countrymen to grow and consume. That is how rice came to be.

White rice – Everyday healthfood

White rice contains essential elements for humans such as starch, protein, lipids, vitamin B1, niacin, vitamin C, calcium and iron. These nutrients and calories can sustain our bodies.

The outer husk of rice grains contains vitamins such as B1, B2, B3, B5, E and pre-vitamin A that exert a comprehensive impact on our respiratory, digestive, cognitive and physical functions. In addition, it contains iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and limestone that are indispensable for cognitive ability and healthy hair, skin and fingernails.

Thanks to the harmony of vitamins, minerals and fiber, rice is an ideal staple food because it provides immediate energy without causing obesity. It also supplies vitamins without increasing blood lipids. High in fiber, rice helps to reduce digestive troubles. Rice eaters’ livers and kidneys are not as overloaded with the heavy  digestive tasks caused by a Westerners’ diet.

Black rice –Kidney power

Black rick is considered a “super food” with a variety of health benefits. Normally the rice is black, but once cooked, it turns Bordeaux-red or purple. The volume of fiber and taste of black rice is similar to that of brown rice.

Containing protein, lipids, vitamin B, calcium, phosphorus, iron and zinc, black rice is nutritionally superior to white rice. It can enhance the volume of hemoglobin and red blood cells in the blood, assisting our cardiovascular systems. Other benefits include aiding the development of children’s bones and mental functions, boosting the recovery of post-natal women and those who are ill.

Black rice is rich in antioxidants, vitamin E, fiber, iron and amino acids. It contains 18 amino acids, nine that are essential. Amino acids are necessary for the synthesis of protein.

Black rice is highly beneficial for our kidneys. It bolsters digestion, increases stamina and is an anti-aging food for the skin. Not easy to cook, black rice must be soaked overnight. It is not recommended for children or senile adults with poor digestion.

Glutinous rice –A detoxer

Glutinous rice contains a variety of nutrients, including protein, lipids, carbohydrates, calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin B2 and starch. This rice is used in delicacies such as sticky rice, compote or cakes. Sweet, aromatic, waxy and calming, it helps bolster spleen and lung health, cures diarrhea, urinary difficulties, hyperhidrosis (increased sweating) and many other ailments.

Glutinous rice warms the stomach and discourages ulcers. Don’t consume too much because it makes people hot from within, particularly those with acne and inflammation.

Black glutinous rice – Heart smart

Black glutinous rice is lauded as the “blood nourishing rice” because it contains 6.8 per cent more protein, 20 per cent more lipids, eight amino acids, and essential vitamins.

A recent study showed that black glutinous rice helps prevent cardiovascular disease, stroke and hypertension. According to the study, the yeast of black glutinous rice contains lovastatine and ergosterol that can regenerate blood veins and stave off cardiovascular complications. It also has produces no side effects such as allergies, rashes or nausea. It is very beneficial for people who have to undergo ischemic stroke treatments.

Brown rice – Digestive aid

Brown rice is very nutritious because of its outer husk that helps moderate blood pressure, reduces bad cholesterol and prevents cardiovascular disease.

Consumption of brown rice assists your internal organs, clears the respiratory system, bolsters digestion, provides calcium to toughen bones, stalls diarrhea and strengthens cognitive abilities. Apart from the cooked version, brown rice is also used to make sticky  rice flakes or porridge with red beans.

Red rice – A child’s friend

Red rice contains rich nutrients and is usually used as rice powder for toddlers. It contains starch, protein, lipids, fiber and vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, paraaminobenzoic (PABA), folic (vitamin M) and phytic acids, calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium, glutathione (GSH), kali and natrium. Red rice stalls cardiovascular disease, prevents several types of cancer (including breast cancer), reduces cholesterol, keeps the stomach full, reduces risk of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, toughens children’s bones and prevents asthma.

  • Soak red rice longer than normal rice before cooking to retain nutrients when the rice starts to sprout.
  • Serve with sesame salt and peanuts to enhance the appetite and bolster health.
  • Roast or grind then mix with milk or yogurt.

No matter where we are, Vietnamese people always remember  the legend of rice grains. Whenever we consume this essential food we  celebrate the noble sacrifices of our mothers. Keep your mother in your heart forever in this Mother’s Day.

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Lecturer of Traditional Medicines. Graduated from Internal Medicine program and continued to pursue his study in Traditional Medicines. A researcher and author of numerous valuable books in traditional medicines.