R&D Story 04

Unlocking the
Nutritional
Potential of Brown Rice

The traditional Japanese meal is viewed as well-balanced and low in calories. To deliver the bountiful nutrients of brown rice to enrich daily meals, Sunstar has been engaging in continuous research and has developed unique products.

Brown rice with vegetables and fish, the basis of a traditional Japanese meal

The Japanese are renowned for their longevity, boasting an average life expectancy of 83.7 years, while the rest of the world averages 71.4 years*. One of the reasons for this long life span is their exceptional diet. In Japan, where Sunstar has its origins, people traditionally ate brown rice - which is full of nutrients necessary for our body such as fiber, magnesium, and vitamin B6 - accompanied by well-balanced vegetable dishes.


*Reference: World Health Statistics 2016: Monitoring health for the SDGs

However, in the mid 20th century, these healthy eating habits were lost and meals were now based more on highly refined carbohydrates. This was partly due to the Green Revolution which happened all over the world, where the unprecedented use of high-yielding strains and chemical fertilizers allowed the mass production of grains to feed the world. Even though whole grains are highly recommended for health promotion worldwide, meals packed with refined carbohydrates and fat are consumed. This is the base for ever increasing non-communicative diseases.

This is the base for ever increasing non-communicative diseases.
This is the base for ever increasing non-communicative diseases.

The brown rice diet to restore people’s health

Over time, the traditional Japanese diet was forgotten, and more people started to get sick. Dining out and consuming fattier and saltier meals made them unhealthy. Foods that used to nourish the Japanese people were now transforming into a health threat.

Hiroo Kaneda, the son of the founder who succeeded Sunstar, was well aware of the deterioration of the population’s physical condition. He experienced the great benefits of brown rice first-hand when trying to improve the well-being of his employees. When he founded Shin-shin Kenko Dojo (Kenko Dojo Holistic Health Care Center), a facility that provides a 3 day food- and exercise-based health improvement program for Sunstar personnel, he chose the traditional Japanese meal as the official base menu from the start. Thanks partly to the well-balanced meals, many staff members experienced improvements in their health conditions after the program.
Having witnessed the impact of traditional brown rice meals on his employees’ health, Kaneda decided to share this knowledge with everyone.

Having witnessed the impact of traditional brown rice meals on his employees’ health, Kaneda decided to share this knowledge with everyone.

Studies prove the health benefits of meals based on brown rice

There is a scientific basis for the revitalizing experience at Shin-shin Kenko Dojo. A joint team of university researchers and Sunstar’s R&D team revealed the benefits of meals based on brown rice in their investigations.

In these investigations, the team asked a group of volunteers who showed risks of lifestyle diseases (such as obesity, heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes), to eat three high-fiber, low-fat meals containing brown rice each day for eight weeks. After these eight weeks, they saw a significant improvement in the volunteers’ weight and indicators of diabetes, internal inflammation and periodontitis. Scientific studies proved the beneficial effects of a high-fiber, low-fat diet on the whole body as well as on oral health.

After eight weeks, they saw a significant improvement in the volunteers’ weight

  • Week 0
    Week 0 = Usual meals
  • Weeks 0 to 8
    Weeks 0 to 8 = Meals with brown rice
  • Weeks 8 to 32
    Weeks 8 to 32 = Usual meals

Plasma glucose (mmol/l)

(min)

graph

*Nutrition Research 34 491-498 (2014)(P.496)
Blood glucose level after ingesting 75 grams of glucose at week 0, 8, and 32. The blood glucose level at week 8 was significantly lower than the other weeks.

Rice bran, a superfood packed with 80% of the nutrients of brown rice

The surface of brown rice is covered by bran (the germ and skin), which gives it the brown appearance, and where about 80% of the grain’s bioactive nutrients are packed. The white core, which is what we are used to eating, contains mostly starch. Without this white core, rice bran makes a great ingredient for healthy products that are high in nutrients and fiber, and low in sugar.

Rice bran, a superfood packed with 80% of the nutrients of brown rice

Rice bran, a superfood packed with 80% of the nutrients of brown rice

Nutrients in 10 grams of processed bran*

  • Fiber
    Fiber

    5.5 tablespoons of oatmeal

  • Potassium
    Potassium

    2.5 tablespoons of raisins

  • Calcium
    Calcium

    1 teaspoon of yoghurt

  • Magnesium
    Magnesium

    38 cashew nuts

  • Iron
    Iron

    70g of spinach

  • Vitamin B2
    Vitamin B2

    1.5 asparagus

  • Vitamin B6
    Vitamin B6

    6 tablespoons of sesame seeds

  • Vitamin E
    Vitamin E

    1 almond

*Bran that is heat sanitized and pressed for excess oil extraction

  • Research facility at Sunstar’s research institute in the Asahi-machi office in Osaka.
  • Research facility at Sunstar’s research institute in the Asahi-machi office in Osaka.
  • Advanced Glycation Endproducts (AGE) reader that measures cellular glycation levels.

(Top left and right) Research facility at Sunstar’s research institute in the Asahi-machi office in Osaka.

(Bottom right) Advanced Glycation Endproducts (AGE) reader that measures cellular glycation levels.

Challenges to develop products that
use rice bran effectively

Challenges to develop products that use rice bran effectively

Rice bran has diverse uses aside from food. Today, rice bran is used as animal feed, fertilizer, and as an oil source, but the rest is simply thrown away. Because it is highly nutritious, bran attracts bugs and gets easily oxidized, which makes it difficult to use. In addition, its particular flavor and rough texture tend to be disliked.

Challenges to develop products that use rice bran effectively Knowing this, Sunstar’s R&D team found it a waste that rice bran was not being used to its full potential. Based on Sunstar’s holistic health concept providing health support to people through the improvement of their diet, the team started to develop products focusing on the benefits of rice bran.

Processing technology that enabled the development of rice bran products

The key to developing a rice bran product is in the processing technology. To create the technology to process rice bran, Sunstar worked in collaboration with industry specialists, as had been done with the university team to reveal the scientific basis of the benefits of rice bran.

Processing technology that enabled the development of rice bran products

Processing technology that enabled the development of rice bran products

  • Grain of
    Rice
  • Brown Rice
    with Chaff
  • Brown Rice
  • Rice Bran
  • Volumetric
    Feeder
  • Sterilization
    / Cooking
    Process
  • Continuous
    Compression
    Machine
  • Rolling
    Machine
  • Product
    Hopper
  • Air
    Grinding
Fine
Rice Bran
STEP 1

Stabilize with heat

Heat kills microorganisms and deactivates the oxidizing enzyme called lipase. The temperature is adjusted carefully to protect heat-sensitive nutrients such as vitamins.

STEP 2

Press excess oil out

Excess oil, which oxidizes easily, is pressed out while preserving beneficial components such as unsaturated fatty acids.

STEP 3

Grind for better texture

Using a rolling machine, the bran is ground to 2 levels of refinement; 50-60um which retains some texture, and 10-15um which is fine like powder.

Developing convenient products with the nutrients of brown rice

While brown rice is widely recognized as healthy, many people stay away from it for various reasons, such as its flavor and lengthy cooking time. The team at Sunstar was able to develop convenient foods containing all the nutrients of bran with fewer calories.

The product had to be tasty and convenient so that consumers could continue to enjoy its health benefits. After developing various prototypes containing the nutrients of a bowl of brown rice, the Nomu Ichizen* and Kakeru Ichizen* series became Sunstar’s first rice bran products in Japan.

*In Japanese, Ichizen means one bowl of rice (approximately 150g) which is the standard portion of rice per meal. Nomu means “to drink” and Kakeru “to pour”.

Easy-to-consume brown rice benefits
through the “Drink” and “Pour” series

Nomu Ichizen
Nomu Ichizen

This beverage contains finely-ground semi-defatted rice bran, and easily provides its wholesome nutrients – a true product born from Sunstar innovation. In addition to bran, soy milk is blended for extra nutrients, and emulsified to give it a smooth texture. This pioneering rice bran beverage in the Japanese market is the result of Sunstar's intensive research and development.

Nomu Ichizen

Kakeru Ichizen

Kakeru Ichizen

This sauce-like product enriches daily meals simply by pouring it over rice or pasta. Using texture-rich semi-defatted bran, this vegan meal provides satiety despite its low calorie content. It contains extra vegetables for an additional supplement of vitamins and minerals.

Making the world healthier
with rice bran

Sunstar has brought back the Japanese brown rice-based meals with a contemporary twist. Our rice bran products, the result of extensive R&D, are now available outside of Japan. Adjusting the flavor to local tastes whenever necessary, these rice bran beverages can be integrated into daily lives anywhere around the world. They are now sold in Germany, and soon will be available in Singapore and other Asian countries.

We at Sunstar believe that our products will contribute to people’s health around the world

We continue to research and develop rice bran products with new formulations based on customer feedback.

Find out more

KENKODOJO Brown Rice & Soy Drink

KENKODOJO Brown Rice & Soy Drink

This unique drink combines rice bran, full of essential nutrients and bioactive components, and soy, a high-quality vegetable protein source. Both ingredients are important pillars of the balanced Japanese diet, said to be one of the sources of Japanese longevity and quality of life. To give this combination a mild and harmonious taste, this drink is lightly enriched with a banana and almond touch.

Learn more

KENKODOJO Brown Rice & Soy Drink

References

  • 2015

    Yonei Y, Yagi M, Hamada U, Imamura I, Okamura S, Yamamoto K, Matsumoto M. 2015. A placebo-controlled, randomized, single-blind, parallel-group comparative study to evaluate the anti-glycation effect of a functional soymilk beverage supplemented with rice bran/rice bran oil. Glycative Stress Research [accessed 2015 June 30] Volume.2(2):80-100

Holistic Health Care

Our 360° approach to total well-being. Holistic Health Care provides a connected approach across every aspect of daily life. As our company name reflects, Sunstar supports you throughout the day, from the morning sun to the night-time stars.