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GABA Rice Has Health Benefits

by Eleanor Kurtus, PhD (11 December 2007)

GABA rice is germinated brown rice with a greater amount of the naturally-occurring amino acid gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Researchers have found that GABA rice has many health benefits. It is made by soaking the brown rice in water for an extended period of time before cooking it. As the rice germinates, the amount of the gamma-aminobutyric acid increases. A basking light bulb can be used to heat the rice during the germination process.

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Researchers find health benefits

As reported at the 2004 Rice Conference held by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, GABA rice is nutritionally enhanced by the germination process. GABA increases significantly, but so do a number of other nutrients such as the amino acid lysine, tocotrienols, magnesium and zinc. For more information, you can review some of the findings that are posted on the web site

Japanese researchers have found that an intake of GABA over time helps to lower blood pressure, improve kidney function, and reduce sleeplessness. Additionally, GABA rice improved the learning ability of mice and there is speculation that it may be helpful in preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Yet another study has found that germinated brown rice extract inhibited leukemia cell proliferation and stimulated cancer cell apoptosis (cell death).

How to germinate GABA rice

The process of germinating GABA rice consists of placing the desired amount of brown rice in a container and cover with 1 to 2 cm (about ½ to ¾ inches) of water. You then let it soak at a temperature of 30 to 40 degrees Celsius (86 to 104 Fahrenheit) for 8 to 20 hours.  A cooler temperature takes longer.

The water may become slightly smelly and should be changed every 4 to 6 hours.

The part of the seed that germinates is the embryo on the tip of each grain of rice. It doesn't necessarily sprout, but you can see it become fuller and larger. After the seeds have started to germinate, you can then rinse the rice and cook it. You will find that it needs slightly less water because it has soaked up water during the germinating process.

Maintaining soaking temperature

To keep the rice at 30 to 40 degree Celsius while soaking, I used a basking light which is commonly used to warm a cage for pet reptiles. I bought a 100-watt basking light bulb which is sold under the brand name All Living Things®.

I placed the bulb in an 8.5 inch clamp light fixture, also sold in the pet store for use with the basking light bulb. To achieve the proper temperature you will need a thermometer and will have to experiment with the light at various heights above the rice. A distance of 6 to 12 inches above the rice kept my container at around 100 degrees Fahrenheit.


GABA rice is germinated brown rice that contains a greater amount of the naturally-occurring gamma-aminobutyric acid. Researchers have found that GABA rice has many health benefits. It is made by soaking the brown rice in water for an extended period of time before cooking it. A basking light bulb can be used to heat the rice during the germination process.

Eat healthy

Resources and references

Author's Credentials


Shoichi, I. (2004). "Marketing of value-added rice products in Japan: Germinated brown rice and rice bread."  Retrieved from

Oh, C. H., & Oh, S. H. (2004). "Effects of germinated brown rice extracts with enhanced levels of GABA on cancer cell proliferation and apoptosis." Journal of Medical Food.

News in Science (2000). "Soaked brown rice is better for you." Retrieved from

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