Thursday, October 27, 2011

Eating Brown Rice is a Healthier Choice than Eating White Rice

   By Silvia Ross, MS, RDN,CDN


       It is not easy to change an eating behavior that has been part of my culture as a Latina. Eating white rice is one of the favorite dishes in Ecuador, my native country.   My family and friends always consume white rice as a second dish with a portion of chicken or red meats after the soup at lunch-time.  Everyone in my family enjoyed eating it for its texture and flavor. I never asked my mother the nutritional value of white rice or its benefits. It was not in my own interest to know the specifics of what I was eating.  I did not think that it was important to know about it. My mother didn't know about the nutritional value lost in the milling process of brown rice. By that being said, all my siblings and I continued to eat white rice as part of our daily routine.
My uncle Freddy is a very important man in his hometown where he owns a rice plantation, and he distributes white rice in the region of Los Rios, Ecuador. I guess that's the reason why my mother would never eat brown rice.  It wasn't that long ago that I moved from Ecuador to New York. I was a teenager and started to learn new things on my own. So one day I was introduced to brown rice, and since then, eating white rice isn’t the same.
      After eating brown rice, I inquired about why it is good for my health besides having a great taste. Then I obtained the information by reading books, official health websites and health magazines. So I learned that brown rice is a whole grain in its natural form with many nutrients. In contrast, white rice goes through a milling process to refine the brown rice. The milling process  removes  the outer cover, the husk, bran (dietary fiber, and fat layer) and germ (vitamins such as thiamin B1, vitamin E, vitamin B6, riboflavin B2, folacin and niacin B3 and minerals such as magnesium, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, copper and iron). Rice distributors opt for this procedure to prolong the lifespan of the rice by preventing spoilage and extending its storage life. Also, this process alters the flavor, texture, and appearance of the rice ( a seed with a white, bright and shiny appearance).
     The polishing process removes significant nutrients from the rice.  Basically, a diet based on unenriched white rice place the vulnerable population to the neurological disease beriberi, due to a deficiency of vitamin B1( thiamine). In the19th century, there were many sick people and doctors didn't know the source of the disease. In 1901, it was interpreted the disease as a deficiency syndrome by Gerrit Grijns, a Dutch physician, assistant to Christiaan Eijkman in Netherlands Indies. Later, it was found that beriberi results from the deficiency of vitamin B1. In 1958,  the United States Legislative billed a law of enrichment of white grains such as rice and flours with vitamins such as B1, B3, and a mineral, iron. Since then, the Food Drug Administration enforced this law.
      While reading a news' letter, I read an article about work conducted by Dr. Qi Sun, a leading nutrition researcher of the study who focused on brown rice, found that the fiber in brown rice slows down sugar in the blood and helps other food products to be metabolized slowly.  Dr. Qi Sun makes a case by saying that whole grains such as barley or whole wheat that contain more nutritional value than refined grains, can result in a 36% reduction in the risk of getting type 2 diabetes. Similarly, the Yukihiko, another researcher agrees with Qi’s study that people should eat more whole grains. The study also suggests that process food products release sugar fast into the bloodstream with bigger risks of getting type 2 diabetes than eating a whole grain product. Yukihiko also said that eating germinates brown rice instead of white rice was more effective for the control of the blood glucose concentration while metabolizing it. This means that germinate brown rice will not raise insulin secretion in the bloodstream.
    It is noticeable that eating a variety of whole grains can help a person's health. I, strongly believe that my life changed completely since I started my new diet. While eating brown rice is a great source of nutrients, an individual should know that eating too much of it is not recommendable. Because every person is a different world with a different body makeup. So I decided to start to help others by informing my friends and family about the benefits of brown rice, and I can't wait to help you to take action of on your eating behavior changes. You are not alone, and there are many people looking to live a healthy life. So if you need someone to listen and help you to change your eating habits.  You can count on me!  Contact me at 561-843-5083 and you can check more information at 

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