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    Archive for the ‘anthocyanins’ Category

    You Ask, I Answer: Forbidden Rice

    organic_forbidden_riceCan you share some information on forbidden rice?  The other day I went to a Thai restaurant that had it on the menu as a side dish.  Is it nutritionally the same as white or brown rice?

    — Jake (Last name withheld)
    San Diego, CA

    Though white and brown varieties dominate the rice market in the Unite States, many Asian cultures frequently consume a wide range of colors.

    A trip to your local Asian supermarket will significantly increase your choice in the rice department.  You will, for instance, spot forbidden rice, a black rice that becomes a dark purple during the cooking process.

    Beautiful color aside (top it with scallions, cashews, and red peppers and you basically have an art piece), forbidden rice is a wonderful addition to any diet.  Like brown rice, it is a whole grain that boasts a nifty mineral profile.

    Additionally, black rice contains anthocyanins — the same healthful antioxidant pigment in blueberries that offers quite a level of protection from degenerative disease.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Antioxidants in Wine

    red wine glassDo the antioxidants in wine decrease with time like they do with olive oil?

    For example, if I drink a wine from 1996 tonight, am I not getting any of the health benefits I would from one that was bottled earlier this month?

    — Cassandra (last name withheld)
    San Francisco, CA

    The issue of health benefits from red wine can get rather dizzying.  Let’s recap the latest batch of information:

    • Do older wines have lower antioxidant levels than newer ones?  No.  A study published in 2006 in the Journal of Food Science and Agriculture compared wines ranging from 1 to 28 years old and concluded that, on average,  “antioxidant activity of red wines does not correlate with wine age.”
    • The “on average” is particularly important, since some antioxidants increase with age, while others decrease.  For example, a 2003 study in the Journal of Food Science and Agriculture found that the anthocyanin content of red wine decreased by an average of 88 percent over a 7-month period.
    • It is difficult to generalize antioxidant levels of wines since these are affected by several factors, including the particular variety of grape used, aging methods, pH levels, and even the specific strain of yeast used in the fermentation process.
    • Resveratrol (the famous antioxidant found in high amounts in the skins of red grapes) levels are higher in grapes that grow in cooler climates.
    • Pinot Noir has the highest level of resveratrol

    I wouldn’t get too concerned with these details, though.

    Remember, red wine is not the only source of these antioxidants.  Red grapes — with the skin on! — basically deliver the same health benefits.

    Anthocyanins, for example, are found in abundance in red grapes, cherries, raspberries, and blueberries.  Instead of shunning vintage wines because of their low anthocyanin content, just eat any of those fruits on a regular basis.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Inflammation

    My mum asked me to look into foods that increase or decrease inflammation and related chronic pain conditions.

    I don’t know if such a thing is even possible, and Google leads me to thousands of quacks and charlatans. Can you help?

    — Rachelle T.
    Location Unknown

    Nutrition plays an important role in promoting — and reducing — inflammation.

    Before we even get to actual foods, though, it’s important to address weight.

    Excess body fat heightens inflammation, so working towards shedding any extra pounds is the first step in my book.

    Foods that I suggest your mother eat sparingly include refined carbohydrates (mainly white flour and added sugars), trans fats, and Omega-6 fatty acids (found in most processed plant oils)

    A point of clarity regarding Omega-6 fatty acids: although they absolutely serve a purpose (and are essential, meaning we can only get them from our diet), the traditional U.S. diet is overly abundant in them.

    Moving on, then. There are also many foods that help manage — and even decrease — inflammation.

    These include whole grains, monounsaturated fats (think avocados, olive oil, peanut butter, and almond butter), Omega-3 fatty acids (walnuts, flaxseed, salmon, tofu, wheat germ, and some legumes) and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

    In the case of fruits and vegetables, the more variety the better.

    Why? Research suggests that different compounds (i.e.: anthocyanins in blueberries, carotenoids in sweet potatoes, and phenolics in tart cherries) can aid in the reduction of inflammation.

    Keep in mind, though, that for optimal results, these foods should be consumed on a daily basis for a prolonged period.

    Additionally, the above mentioned foods should not be consumed with excess calories or sugars (putting a spoonful of walnuts into a Coldstone ice cream bowl or having a Reese’s peanut butter cup are not effective ways to manage inflammation.)

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