Friday, June 18, 2010

Dear White Rice, It's Over.

White rice, listen, it’s not you. It's me. We've had some good times – the nights we shared Chinese take out together, those halcyon days when all I needed was a saucepan and a minute – but the fact is, we've grown apart.

You had to know this was coming – what with all the fresh leafy greens hanging around lately and the wild blueberries sharing space with the ice cream bars in the freezer…the whole grains I've been leaving around.

The fact is, I need a little space – on my plate, that is, for something not quite so colorless. We can still be friends. 

Please, don't press me for the details.

Ok, you asked for it. Here's the truth: There's been a study published in the June 14 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine in which a team of scientists from Harvard University showed that regular consumption of brown rice – 5 servings a week – reduces the risk of diabetes by 36 percent.

The study also shows that people who eat white rice five times a week had 17 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who eat only once a month.

Now you know.


Your New Brown Rice Doctrine

Welcome to your new, more colorful life where white foods don't get the time of day. It's a good idea for everyone, but if you have or are in danger of developing type 2 diabetes, dumping the white could be one of the best things you can do to maintain a healthy weight, a healthy heart, and healthy glucose levels. 

Here are some Brown Rice Rules to help you get out there on your own: 

#1 - Start loving it.  Brown rice is nutty, it's chewy, it's delicious. It's the perfect foil for fish, beans, veggies, olives, raisins. You name it, brown rice adds a robustness, taste and style. 

#2 - Start a merger. If you have an unflagging love for white rice, mix it with brown. Half the brown rice means half the benefits, and if you're a true white rice fanatic, cold turkey isn't for everyone.

#3 - Take it slow. Perfect brown rice requires more water and more patience than white. But slow is the latest trend in food, and quickening the pace could lead to cultural frustration, so do your psyche a favor.

#4 - Don't sauce it, toss it. Remember that all rice starts out as brown. It only becomes white through the refining process that strips it of the minerals in the hull. Eating food as close to its original form is usually a good rule of thumb, so when you see white rice, think weddings, not dinner.

#5 - Don't be a slave to instant. Go instant if you must. But instant has been precooked and dried and has lost nutrients and fiber, and its higher on the glycemic index.
According to Dr. Sears, "Compared with regularly cooked rice, the instant variety has a bit less of the following nutrients (though the differences may be insignificant): selenium, zinc, B-6, folic acid, and much of the amino acids. Instant rice also loses a bit of its texture." Still, if it’s brown, it's a start.

#6 - Look to the East. Asia's rice consumption is 135,000 thousand metric tons, while the U.S. consumes about 3,882. While rice is part of every meal across many parts of the world, our carb choices tend toward the potato. Taking a page from Eastern diets can provide a little inspiration. While no food is evil, switching out your white carbs for brown rice (especially if those carbs are shaped like shoestrings or tend to sport a crinkle) could reap huge benefits for your nutritional profile. 

The End of the Affair

It's time to end the love affair with white rice. Start by cooking up a stir fry, creating a classic pairing with black beans, and discovering basmatis, gratins and green rice. Here's a start: Try Martha Stewart's Brown Rice & Black Beans, Allrecipe's Vegetable Fried Rice, or the New York Times' Brown Basmati Rice Salad With Roasted Poblanos and Cumin Vinaigrette, Fried Basmati Brown Rice With Chicken and Vegetables, and Green Rice (you can use brown for this recipe too).

Need tips on cooking brown rice? There's plenty of help out there. The Healthy Eating Site has tips for cooking brown rice right, as does Suite 101 and The Buzzle.

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