Nancy's Nutrition Corner

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food," Hippocrates.

Righteous Rice

Often there is much confusion around rice. Is it good for you? Too starchy? Brown vs. white, is one better than the other? This article attempts to define the difference between white and brown rice, and to aid in better dietary choices.

Grains "Wholey" Defined
A grain is considered whole when all of its parts (except the inedible hull) are retained. These parts include the bran, germ and the endosperm. The bran and germ of a grain are where most of the fiber, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats reside. Unfortunately, these are the parts removed in the refining process of rice, leaving behind a nutrient poor refined starch – white rice.

Grains and Health
The consumption of refined grains such as white breads, pasta and white rice has been tied to obesity, and also to an increased risk of developing "metabolic syndrome", the precursor to adult onset diabetes. Features of this syndrome include an increasing waistline, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Studies have shown those with diets low in whole foods and high in processed foods are much more likely to develop metabolic syndrome.

Intact Grains – a Better Source of Fiber and Nutrients
Examples of whole grain foods include brown rice and wild rice. These intact grains are a good source of fiber, selenium, magnesium, phenolics, and lignans.

  • Fiber - Shown to reduce high cholesterol levels, regulate blood sugar levels, and aid in the prevention of bowel cancer.
  • Selenium - Many studies suggest a strong correlation between insufficient selenium intake and cancer. Selenium acts as a cofactor to the body's most potent antioxidant enzyme.
  • Magnesium - A mineral used as a cofactor for more than 300 enzymes in the body. Low magnesium intake can contribute to high blood pressure, muscle spasms, and fatigue.
  • Phenolics - Powerful antioxidants that aid in the prevention of many types of disease. The bran and germ portions contain 83% of a grain’s phenolics.
  • Lignans - Brown rice is abundant with this phytonutrient. Lignans are converted by the “good” bacteria in our gut into enterolactone, which protects against many types of cancers and heart disease.

Wild rice is denser than the white rice most of us are used to. Cooking it requires more water and time, but the rich nutty taste and excellent health benefits are well worth a little extra effort!

 Featured Product
Wild Rice

Nancy Silva, ND is a licensed naturopath with a penchant for good food. Her monthly column discusses the nutritional aspects of some of the foods available through LocalHarvest. You can contact Nancy from her listing on our website.

Back to the March 2008 Newsletter