What is Germinated Brown Rice (GABA Rice)

Organic Food

Rice is the second most consumed cereal in the world. It is mostly consumed in East, South and South East Asia (1). Rice is a staple in India especially in the south of India. It is a source of substantial amount of protein though rice in general has only about 7 – 8 % protein. And rice does not provide all the essential amino acids hence not considered as complete protein.

Brown rice

Brown rice is unpolished rice which still has the outer bran layer. Compared to white or polished rice brown rice contains more fiber, micronutrients that is vitamins and minerals. But brown rice is more difficult to cook and even after cooking it is chewy and not so palatable (2).

What is germinated brown rice?

By germinating brown rice, it becomes easier to cook, palatable and nutritious. Brown rice is germinated to increase its nutrient content. When compared to white rice or polished rice germinated brown rice (GBR) is more nutritious.

On cooking GBR is more

  • palatable
  • easier to cook
  • more cohesive
  • less chewy
  • easier to digest

than normal brown rice.

GBR or otherwise called sprouted brown rice is made by germinating brown rice. Brown rice though rich in micronutrients contains phytic acid which decreases their bioavailability that is the nutrients are not absorbed properly.

How is brown rice germinated?

Brown rice is soaked in warm water (350C to 400C) for 10 to 12 hours. Water is changed every few hours (3 to 4 hours) to prevent fermentation which may give rise to bad odour and also to maintain the water temperature. The water is then drained and the soaked rice is kept in moist conditions for 20 to 24 hours. When all these conditions are met, an optimal environment is provided for the brown rice to germinate. It sprouts and the sprout is 0.5 to 1 mm in length (1).


Why is germinated rice more nutritious?

Due to germination the phytic acid is neutralised and the bioavailability of nutrients is increased. Sprouting also results in release of enzymes, proteins and vitamins which makes it easier to digest and absorb the nutrients. At this particular stage GBR has the maximum amount of nutrients.

The nutrients which increased during germination are

  • gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)
  • lysine
  • vitamin E
  • tocotrienols
  • B vitamins
  • dietary fiber
  • inositols
  • ferulic acid
  • phytic acid
  • minerals (potassium, magnesium, zinc)
  • gamma-oryzanol
  • prolylendopeptidase inhibitor

Many of these components exhibit antioxidant property. The most important component among all of them is GABA which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter which has several health benefits from promoting fat loss to boosting immune system. The other important components are ferulic acid and gamma oryzanol which increase during sprouting (1).


GBR is being subjected to a lot of research work as it is said to exhibit many physiological effects such as (3)

  • anti-hyperlipidaemia
  • anti-hypertension

and reduces the risk of certain chronic diseases such as

  • cancer
  • diabetes
  • cardiovascular disease
  • and Alzheimer’s disease

The GBR is dried and the process of drying does not affect its nutritive value in fact it actually increases GBR keeping quality. In appearance GBR looks similar to brown rice but the nutritive value is enhanced because of increased digestibility and bioavailability of nutrients. GBR is used not only as rice but also commercially to make several products such as baked products and extruded products (1).

Germinated brown rice is much more nutritious compared to white rice or brown rice.


  1. Patil, S. B., & Khan, M. K. (2011). Germinated brown rice as a value added rice product: A review. Journal of food science and technology, 48(6).
  1. Ravichanthiran, K., Ma, Z. F., Zhang, H., Cao, Y., Wang, C. W., Muhammad, S., and Pan, B. (2018). Phytochemical Profile of Brown Rice and Its Nutrigenomic Implications. Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland), 7(6).
  1. Fengfeng, W., Yang, Touré, A., Jin, Z. & Xueming, X. (2013).Germinated Brown Rice and Its Role in Human Health. Journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.53(5).

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