Project manager, AURI
Did you know that Minnesota produces 44 percent of the U.S. growth of wild rice and that wild rice is the state grain? This grain was a staple in the diet of the Chippewa and Sioux Indians, who long considered it to be a life-giving food. With today's consumers focused on finding high-nutrient, healthy foods, there is potential to find new uses for wild rice or the nutrients found in it.
It was with this in mind that we at the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) wanted to explore these possible opportunities. It is our passion at AURI to find new uses for Minnesota's agriculture commodities in order to strengthen our state's economy and create new jobs.
So, we partnered with researchers at the University of Minnesota and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany to review and summarize literature on this topic as well as the researchers' own unpublished studies about the potential health benefits of wild rice.
There appear to be several opportunities related to the phytochemicals contained in wild rice.
Phytochemicals are chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants and may provide health benefits. Wild rice contains a number of these phytochemicals, including ferulic acid and phytic acid, which have a demonstrated antioxidant effect in vitro. Apigenin is another potentially interesting phytochemical because of its suggested anti-cancer activity.
In addition, we looked at projects that would further examine these potential health benefits and what they mean for wild rice producers.
One potential project would be to conduct determinations of the glycemic index using Minnesota cultivated wild rice. Doing so would ensure that the glycemic index value will be accepted and entered into tables of the glycemic index of foods. Another potential project involves determining the antioxidant capacity of several samples of wild rice and further examining the antioxidant effect of wild rice in animals or humans.
By sharing this research with the wild rice industry, Minnesota food processors and others interested in wild rice's health benefits and the market for this, AURI hopes to find new uses or create new products made from the state grain. Find the full report at www.auri.org.