PhilRice promotes rice-corn grits as alternative meal option

July 3, 2013 10:53 pm 

SCIENCE CITY OF MUNOZ, Nueva Ecija, July 3 — For health and budget conscious Filipinos, a combination of white rice and corn grits is an alternative option for daily meal.

This is what the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is advocating for to help the Filipino consumers know the cheaper yet nutritious staple.

"If rice, particularly white rice, is too much for the budget, mixing white rice and corn grits could be an option for the health- and pocket-conscious," Artemio M. Salazar, research professor at the University of the Philippines-Los Banos (UPLB) said in the recent seminar conducted at the PhilRice here.

Salazar said he and his research team started the practice of mixing rice with corn grits about two years ago, experimenting on various ratios of rice-to-corn in cooking.

He said the result was generally good because they used quality protein maize (QPM), an open-pollinated variety of corn that is high in protein and tastes like rice.

From their research, Salazar said they found out that eating rice mixed with corn grits has two major benefits – it is more nutritional and filling and it is cheaper.

“We usually eat rice three times a day. Each meal will take two hours before we digest and turn into glucose. If the glucose did not burn into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), it can heighten one’s risk of having diabetes," he said.

However, he said that eating food items low in glycemic index (GI) like corn, brown rice, and other staples can lessen the risk of diabetes.

"Moreover, low GI foods help delay hunger pangs and promote weight loss in overweight people,” he said.

Likewise, he said that mixing rice with corn is also a more affordable choice.

"In the Visayas, the price of corn is cheaper than rice by P2 a kilo. If rice is mixed with corn using a 50:50 or 70:30 ratio, it is still cheaper than pure rice," Salazar said.

He, however, noted that some Filipinos are still hesitant about eating a combination of rice and corn grits.

But according to a study conducted by the Institute of Human Ecology in the University of the Philippines in Los Baños (UPLB), rice blend (or rice composite), which is a mixture of white rice and corn, has acceptable taste similar to white rice alone.

In a cooking demo held during the seminar, Salazar, together with Felicito M. Rodriguez, a university researcher at UPLB, sampled various rice-corn blends such as 50:50, 70:30, 100-percent corn grits, and 100-percent rice.

Imelda Angat, a mother and leader of the Pantawid Pamilya Program in barangay Maligaya here said “the taste (of the 70:30 rice-corn blend) was good like rice. I will surely try this at home because I have learned that it is more nutritious, more affordable, and is good to serve to my family.”

At present, corn grits is not yet available in public markets but it can be purchased at UPLB.

Salazar said that UPLB is trying to expand its area to be able to supply the needs and demands for corn grits.

Aside from being affordable and nutritious, the eating of mixed rice and corn grits can also contribute to the country's attainment of rice self-sufficiency.

"Decreased consumption of white rice, as a result, can also contribute to the country’s attainment of food security. If the corn-eating communities will increase, importation of rice will be lessened. This will eventually help the country achieve rice self-sufficiency," he added. (PNA)

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