Brown, Black, Purple & Red Unlike White on Rice

Brown, Black, Purple & Red Unlike White on Rice
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White rice is missing more than fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Phytonutrients such as gamma oryzanol in brown rice may help explain the clinical benefits, and naturally pigmented rice varieties may be even healthier.

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Why does switching from white rice to brown rice enable overweight individuals to significantly reduce their weight, their waist size, their blood pressure, and the level of inflammation within their bodies?

We think it might be the fiber. Brown rice has four times as much dietary fiber as white, including prebiotic types that foster the growth of our good bacteria, which may help account for the anti-obesity effects of brown rice.

Besides the prebiotic fiber, there’s all sorts of vitamins and minerals that are lost when brown rice is milled into white, along with phytonutrients, such as gamma oryzanol, which may theoretically help shift one’s preferences to healthier foods. There are also petri dish studies that suggest gamma oryzanol may help lower cholesterol, and along with other compounds found in the rice bran, which is what makes brown rice brown, may inhibit human cancer cell growth through antioxidant means, anti-proliferative and pro cancer cell suicide mechanisms, immune system modulation, and increasing barrier protection, but again this is all just in test tubes, not people.

There are two human studies, though. The Adventist Health Study found that brown rice was one of four foods associated with significantly decreased risk of colorectal polyps, which can turn into colorectal cancer. Eating cooked green vegetables every day was associated with 24% lower risk, as much as dried fruit just three times a week. Eating beans, chickpeas, split peas, or lentils at least three times a week was associated with 33% lower risk, but brown rice seem to garner 40% lower risk, and that was just a single serving a week or more.

The other study reported increased muscle strength after supplementation with the brown rice compound, in hopes that it could provide a side effect free alternative to anabolic steroids, but the dose they were giving is equivalent to like 17 cups of brown rice a day; so, it’s not clear if it works at practical doses.

Naturally pigmented rice, such as black rice and red rice, may be even more nutritious. During the last decade, it has been shown that these natural anthocyanin plant pigments may have a variety of beneficial effects. They’re what make blueberries blue and red cabbage red. Recent recognition of the fact that diets rich in plant foods lower the risks of cancer promotes enthusiasm for isolating these components as pharmaceutical agents, but why not just eat the blueberries, or add some red cabbage to your stir fry, atop some colorful rice?

Black, purple, and red rice and their pigment compounds have been found in a variety of antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-heart disease, anti-diabetes, and anti-allergy activities, but these are all studies done in a lab; we don’t yet have clinical studies, but they have everything that brown rice has, plus five times more antioxidants and all these extra goodies; so, that’s why I cook red, black, or purple, or rather my rice cooker does, always with a handful of lentils or split peas thrown in for good measure.

But why don’t most people even choose brown over white? Well, brown doesn’t last as long on the shelves; so, can actually be more expensive, even though it’s less processed, whereas white rice is like apocalypse food, even putting Twinkies to shame, still edible after 30 years, though, by then, may have a slight playdough odor.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to ronamae via Flickr.

Why does switching from white rice to brown rice enable overweight individuals to significantly reduce their weight, their waist size, their blood pressure, and the level of inflammation within their bodies?

We think it might be the fiber. Brown rice has four times as much dietary fiber as white, including prebiotic types that foster the growth of our good bacteria, which may help account for the anti-obesity effects of brown rice.

Besides the prebiotic fiber, there’s all sorts of vitamins and minerals that are lost when brown rice is milled into white, along with phytonutrients, such as gamma oryzanol, which may theoretically help shift one’s preferences to healthier foods. There are also petri dish studies that suggest gamma oryzanol may help lower cholesterol, and along with other compounds found in the rice bran, which is what makes brown rice brown, may inhibit human cancer cell growth through antioxidant means, anti-proliferative and pro cancer cell suicide mechanisms, immune system modulation, and increasing barrier protection, but again this is all just in test tubes, not people.

There are two human studies, though. The Adventist Health Study found that brown rice was one of four foods associated with significantly decreased risk of colorectal polyps, which can turn into colorectal cancer. Eating cooked green vegetables every day was associated with 24% lower risk, as much as dried fruit just three times a week. Eating beans, chickpeas, split peas, or lentils at least three times a week was associated with 33% lower risk, but brown rice seem to garner 40% lower risk, and that was just a single serving a week or more.

The other study reported increased muscle strength after supplementation with the brown rice compound, in hopes that it could provide a side effect free alternative to anabolic steroids, but the dose they were giving is equivalent to like 17 cups of brown rice a day; so, it’s not clear if it works at practical doses.

Naturally pigmented rice, such as black rice and red rice, may be even more nutritious. During the last decade, it has been shown that these natural anthocyanin plant pigments may have a variety of beneficial effects. They’re what make blueberries blue and red cabbage red. Recent recognition of the fact that diets rich in plant foods lower the risks of cancer promotes enthusiasm for isolating these components as pharmaceutical agents, but why not just eat the blueberries, or add some red cabbage to your stir fry, atop some colorful rice?

Black, purple, and red rice and their pigment compounds have been found in a variety of antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-heart disease, anti-diabetes, and anti-allergy activities, but these are all studies done in a lab; we don’t yet have clinical studies, but they have everything that brown rice has, plus five times more antioxidants and all these extra goodies; so, that’s why I cook red, black, or purple, or rather my rice cooker does, always with a handful of lentils or split peas thrown in for good measure.

But why don’t most people even choose brown over white? Well, brown doesn’t last as long on the shelves; so, can actually be more expensive, even though it’s less processed, whereas white rice is like apocalypse food, even putting Twinkies to shame, still edible after 30 years, though, by then, may have a slight playdough odor.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to ronamae via Flickr.

Doctor's Note

Switching from white rice to brown rice enables overweight individuals to significantly reduce their weight, their waist size, their blood pressure, and the level of inflammation within their bodies. I explore the value of brown versus white rice in my video Is It Worth Switching from White Rice to Brown?.

For more on rice, see:

Several years ago, I made a video on Arsenic in Rice, which deserved an update so I took a deep dive into the arsenic issue and produced a whole video series:

And, for more on the potential wonders of the blue/black/purple anthocyanin pigments, check out these videos:

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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