Saturday, May 15, 2010

Brown Rice is Nicer!

continuation of yesterday’s post on rice…

So rice is certainly nice, but brown rice is nicer! Take some time this weekend and have some brown rice. Brown rice is healthier than white rice for two reasons. First are the vitamins and minerals that I mentioned previously. According to The World’s Healthiest Foods, “The complete milling and polishing that converts brown rice into white rice destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1, 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids. Fully milled and polished white rice is required to be "enriched" with vitamins B1, B3 and iron." 

Second, there is the fiber in it! Fiber is an essential component to our diets and for good reason. Fiber is essential to our digestive health-ensuring proper digestion and elimination. Additionally, it is important in regulating our blood sugar. When eating a whole grain, like brown rice, we eat the starch and the fiber. The latter which enables our bodies to slowly digest the starch and slowly release the resulting sugar into our bodies. White rice is a pure starch. When ingested, it is quickly digested by the digestive system because there is very little fiber to slow down the process. It causes a spike in energy as the carbohydrates are instantly converted to sugar. 

Dr. Walter Willet, a professor of Nutrition and Medicine at Harvard, spoke in class about refined grains in terms of the glycemic index, which is a measurement of the effect of carbohydrates on our blood sugar levels. The quicker a carbohydrate breaks down in digestion, the higher the number in the glycemic index. Eating foods high in the glycemic index is linked to diabetes. As mentioned above, white rice was very popular in traditional diets, but their population did not have diabetes. This spike in blood sugar did not cause an issue to the traditional cultures because they performed a lot more physical labor. Their jobs and lifestyles required for them to be more active. They used the energy they got from the rice before the sugar took a toll to their insulin levels. White rice is not appropriate for our sedentary lifestyles. We do not use the instant energy that the grain gives us and our bodies have to produce insulin to reduce the sugar level. 

Eating more fiber is really important to our overall health. There is no need to add foods into our diets. It’s all about upgrading the foods you are already eating. Switch the rice you get from the Thai take-out place with brown rice. Or use brown rice when making your rice and beans instead of white.

Have you noticed how you feel after eating white rice vs. brown rice? Do you have a favorite brown rice recipe?

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