The precise origins of rice are lost to history, but experts believe the plant probably got its start in India. Archeological evidence indicates that the southeast Asians were the first people to cultivate rice: artifacts imprinted with rice grains dating back to 4,000 BC have been discovered in Korea.
Rice then spread outward from southern Asia into China and beyond. It is thought that the Greeks were introduced to rice when Alexander the Great brought it home with him from his travels to India in the 4th century BC. The Moors took rice with them when they invaded Spain, and the Spanish in turn introduced the Italians to rice in the 1400's. From there it quickly spread through southern Europe. Rice, with origins in both Asia and Africa, is the most widely consumed grain in the world and it feeds a third of the world’s population.
In addition, rice is very nutritious. Rice is high in complex carbohydrates which are vital for all phsyical and mental energy levels. It contains almost no fat, is cholesterol free, and is low in sodium. All rice, both brown and white, is considered a good source of vitamins and minerals. White rice, because it is enriched, has more iron and thiamine than brown rice. Brown rice has five times more Vitamin E and three times more magnesium.
Brown rice provides twice as much fibre as white rice, but it is not an especially rich source of fiber. On the other hand, rice bran alone is an excellent source of fiber. Rice is a fair source of protein containing all eight essential amino acids. It is low in the amino acid lysine, which is found in beans making the classic combination of rice and beans, popularly known as complementary proteins, a particularly healthful dish. Rice is gluten-free and easily digestible making it a good choice for infants and people with wheat allergies or digestive problems.