Brown rice is one of the most nutrient dense variety of rice. The process that produces brown rice removes only the outer most layer, the hull, of the rice kernel and is the least damaging to the nutritional value. The conversion of brown rice into white rice involves the compete milling and polishing of the kernel which destroys about 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. That’s a lot of helpful nutrients tossed right out. Because of this process white rices must be “enriched” with vitamins B1, B3 and iron. We will examine a few ways in which the nutrients supplied by brown rice can make an important difference in your health.
One of the major nutrients in brown rice (about 80% of the daily value in one cup) is manganese. This trace mineral helps produce energy from protein and carbohydrates and is also involved in the synthesis of fatty acids and in the production of cholesterol, which is used by the body to produce sex hormones. Manganese is also an important component of an essential antioxidant enzyme found the the body’s mitochondria (the area in the body’s cells that produce energy) where it protects the mitochondria from free radicals produced in the energy production process.
Brown rice is also a good source of magnesium which can reduce the severity of asthma, lower blood pressure, reduce the frequency of migraine headaches as well as reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. How you ask? Magnesium helps to regulate nerve and muscle tone by balancing the action of calcium. Magnesium can serve as a natural calcium channel blocker, preventing calcium from rushing into the nerve cell and exciting the nerve. By blocking or regulating calcium’s entry our nerves stay relaxed as well as the blood vessels and muscles they innervate. With too little magnesium calcium gains free entry to the nerves and nerve cells begin to send mixed messages causing excessive contraction. Too little magnesium can contribute to high blood pressure, muscle spasms (including the heart muscle and airways), migraine headaches, as well as muscle cramps, excessive tension, soreness and fatigue. Magnesium is also essential for healthy bones giving way to their physical structure and the bone providing a storage facility for magnesium.
One type of phytonutrient that is very abundant in whole grains, such as brown rice, are plant lignans. Plant lignans are converted by friendly flora (bacteria that naturally lives in us) in our intestines into mammalian lignans, some o which are thought to protect against breast and other hormone-dependent cancers as well as heart disease.
These are just some of the major benefits the nutrients in brown rice provide for our bodies. Studies have shown that other benefits include prevention of gallstones, childhood asthma, reduction in risk of metabolic syndrome, lowered cholesterol, as well as helping us to maintain a healthy weight. Brown rice, as well as other whole grains, do offer a healthy dose of hair-healthy zinc, iron and B vitamins.
Eat This Not That! Supermarket Survival Guide
You may have seen or heard about the Eat This Not That line of books in your local bookstore, in a magazine or over the internet. This series of books have become very popular among those who are looking to drop a few pounds and keep them off. Many of their tips have been featured on Yahoo! and in Mens Health magazine. So I decided to check out a copy of one of the books in the series and “read” a little more into what the authors are trying to sell.
The goal of this particular book, Eat This Not That! Supermarket Survival Guide, is to provide a guide to smart, healthy, low-cost food choices from your local supermarket. The authors cover everything from the produce section to the frozen food aisle. The book also sets out to uncover fake “healthy” foods and rip-off supermarket “bargains” (yes these do exist!!). There are quite a few things I liked about the book but I’ll try to sum it up.
The one huge thing I like about this book is that it makes you think and pay attention to what you’re putting into your body and what food companies are putting into your food. This book gets you reading labels and navigating your local supermarket avoiding major marketing traps. The authors don’t just tell you what to eat, they also tell you why in a way that is easy to understand. It encourages the shopper to not just look at the front of the packaged foods but to actually turn the thing over and read the back and actually understand what is being said. The authors have included a food additive glossary in the book. How many of us actually read (and understand) the ingredients list of the foods we buy? For example what on earth does “intreresterified fat” mean?? Not sure about you, but I’m not a chemistry major. You don’t have to be. The authors’ glossary includes common additive ingredients (like intreresterified fat) in prepackaged foods and what you need to know about them. The authors also address marketing lingo and tell you how to avoid buying foods that sound healthy but are really not, or what better choices are available. For example, whole grain versus multigrain? The choice may be obvious to some of us, others, not so much. The authors can help clear up some of the confusion some of us may have especially in a supermarket where we are bombarded with thousands of food choices. The authors are also very practical in showing you that you can still have your ice cream and eat it too while avoiding extra calories (and pounds). In all, this book isn’t about a quick fix (as so many books are) but it seems like it is geared towards making a lifestyle change as far as nutrition by facilitating smarter decision making.
Furthermore, after researching some reviews on this product, I found out that the American Council on Exercise also reviewed this book. The editors and a panel of fitness and wellness experts gave the book a 4 out of 5 star rating for it’s ease of use, the informative nature and practicality. There are a ton of diet books available. It seems like a new one is published every week and not all of them are kosher with their approach and information. However, this is one book that I (and apparently the American Council on Exercise) think it might be worth looking into. The Eat This Not That series can be found in major booksellers and on line. Just remember, as always, consult your health care provider before changing or starting a diet.
Until next week…
I have this book and LOVE it! I keep it in the car for reference before grocery store trips.
That, and French Women Don’t Get Fat