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    Archive for the ‘antioxidants’ 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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    Quick & Healthy Recipes: Allergy-Friendly Breakfast Pie (Wheat, Soy, Dairy, and Nut-Free!)

    goodmorningiu9You can have this pie whenever you please — day or night.  However, its fruity flavors are breakfast-ish to me.  And, while it is a pie, it is made of such healthful ingredients that you can start your day off quite nutritiously with a slice.

    Chock-full of fiber, phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, it makes minimally-nutritious morning pastries quiver in fear!

    YIELDS: One 8-slice pie

    INGREDIENTS:

    For crust:

    3/4 cup raw almonds (see NOTES at bottom of post)
    3/4 cup raw walnuts (see NOTES at bottom of post)
    (NOTE: For nut-free version, you will need 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds, 1/2 cup hemp seeds, and 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds; see NOTES at bottom of post)
    2 Tablespoons unsweetened shredded dried coconut (optional)
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup pitted dates (any variety; I like Medjool)

    For filling:

    1.5 cups blueberries
    1.5 cups strawberries, sliced
    1 medium banana, sliced
    2 Tablespoons cup raisins
    1 scoop unsweetened whey or hemp protein powder (optional; see NOTES at bottom of post)
    1 Tablespoon water (if needed, to thin out)

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    To make the crust, process the nuts/seeds, coconut (if using), vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in food processor into a finely ground powder.

    Add the pitted dates, 1/3 of a cup at a time, and process for 30 to 45 seconds at a time.

    Once all the dates have been added, you should have a solid “dough-like” product.  If it does not stick together, add a few more pitted dates and process again.

    Remove the “dough” from the food processor and press it into a 9 or 10-inch pie pan (preferably glass), forming a crust that goes up onto the sides of the pan.  Once done, place pie pan in freezer for 30 minutes.

    While crust freezes, make the filling, as detailed below.

    Rinse out the food processor and fill it with berries, the sliced banana, and the raisins.  Process for 45 to 60 seconds, or until completely smooth.  If needed, add up to 1 Tablespoon of water to make processing easier (careful, though, you don’t your filling to be watery!).

    Once filling is smooth (and has a creamy texture), remove crust from freezer and pour filling into pie pan.

    Refrigerate pie pan for at least 90 minutes.

    Once pie has been fully refrigerated, cut into eight uniform slices and enjoy!

    NUTRITION FACTS (for 1 slice, crust made with almonds and walnuts, filling without protein powder):

    245 calories
    1.5 grams saturated fat
    150 milligrams sodium
    5 grams fiber
    4 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: B vitamins (except B12), folate, magnesium, manganese, potassium, vitamin C, zinc

    Good Source of: Iron, monounsaturated fats, omega-3 ALA fatty acids, vitamin E, zinc

    NOTES:

    1. For a simpler and less costly crust, you can definitely use one type of nut or seed.  I like using a combination in order to achieve more flavors, but that is completely up to you.  If using multiple nuts/seeds, feel free to experiment with different ratios, too.  You can also try ingredients not listed in this recipe (i.e.: Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, etc.)

    2. The extra scoop of whey or hemp protein in the filling provides an additional 2.5 grams of protein per slice, and thickens up the texture slightly.  I find that an unsweetened, vanilla-flavored type works best with the filling.

    3. Serving this for guests?  Top it off with whole fresh berries or sliced fruits of your choice!

    4. If you want to give the crust a hint of chocolate flavor, add one tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder to the crust.  For a deep chocolate flavor, add two tablespoons.

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    You Ask, I Answer: ORAC Scores

    AcaiOracI often see a lot of nutrition articles that reference a fruit’s ORAC score, which shows how many antioxidants it has.

    I’ve been reading your blog for a few years and I can’t remember you ever mentioning it.  How come?

    — Marie Boceank
    (Location Withheld)

    ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) is one of those nutrition “buzzwords” that elicits an unenthused shrug and “meh” from me.

    The assay, developed in the mid 1990s at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center, does not give an indication of how many antioxidants a food has, but rather how efficiently a food can destroy free radicals (compounds that can speed up the aging process as well as development of certain diseases).

    The implication — by those not familiar with nutrition science — is that the higher a food’s ORAC score, the healthier it is.

    While there is no unhealthy food with a high ORAC score (after all, the list is dominated by berries, nuts, seeds, legumes, and vegetables), the ORAC-obsessed viewpoint is misguided, for the following reasons:

    • A food’s ORAC score is affected by a multitude of factors: growing conditions, how it is consumed, how soon after harvesting it is consumed, how it is stored, etc.
    • ORAC is simply one way to rank foods.  Remember — a different food will always emerge as “the healthiest” depending on what parameters you are looking at.  For example, rank foods by their quercetin content, and you’ll get apples, red onions, and celery as the champs.  Make potassium the benchmark, and then you’ve got avocados, potatoes, lentils, and bananas towards the top.
    • There are many other health-promoting compounds in foods (such as phytonutrients and flavonoids) that, by virtue of not being antioxidants, are left out of the ORAC equation.  Lignans in flax and avocado, for example, have tremendous heart-health benefits.  Alas, lignan content is a moot point when it comes to ORAC.

    The USDA recommends a daily intake of 3,000 – 5,000 ORAC units per day.  As if consumers need more figures to keep track of!  The bottom line, as always, is that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains offers a plethora of healthful qualities (including the recommended amounts of daily ORAC units).

    I’ve often come across articles in mainstream health magazines that will refer to ORAC as the definitive way to choose healthy foods (in the same way that, a few years ago, the glycemic index was touted as “the way” to determine what is healthy and what isn’t).  While gimmicky and eye-catching, that kind of thinking is ultimately reductionist and inaccurate.

    The less processed your diet, the less you have to worry about seeking out ORAC scores, fiber, and other healthful components.  A whole-foods diet pretty much takes care of itself.

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    You Ask, I Answer: More to Bananas than Potassium?

    BananasI don’t hear a lot about bananas, except that they are a good way to get potassium and B vitamins.

    You often write about phytonutrients and antioxidants in fruits.  Do bananas have any?

    Also, why do some diets forbid you from eating bananas the first few weeks?

    — Sandra Talenda
    (Location withheld)

    Let’s get the frustrating things out of the way first.

    I will never, ever, ever understand diet plans that treat bananas (or any other nutritious, whole foods) as if they were radioactive waste.

    A standard medium banana is not only a very good source of fiber, manganese, potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C, it also only delivers 105 calories.

    FYI: When it comes to potassium, potatoes and avocados surpass bananas.

    Anyone who recommends banana avoidance in the name of health needs to take a nutrition class.  Stat.

    As far as phytonutrients are concerned, all plant-based foods (grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and spices) contain them.  That’s one significant reason why a diet heavy on plant-based foods is optimal for health!

    Keep in mind that we are still in the process of identifying phytonutrients; the nutrition nerd in me can’t help but feel excited when researchers uncover a new one.

    Bananas provide high amounts of the following phytonutrients, flavonoids, and antioxidants:

    • Glutathione: a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to protect against cellular oxidation and damage
    • Phenolic compounds: a Cornell University study concluded that certain fruits — including bananas — contain phenolic compounds that protect neural cells from oxidative damage, thereby helping slash the risk of neurodegenerative disorders, like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
    • Delphinidin: a naturally-occurring pigment that helps lower cancer risk — particularly of the prostate — by causing tumor cells to undergo apoptosis (“cell suicide”)
    • Rutin: a flavonoid also found in asparagus that is associated with blood pressure reduction
    • Naringin: also found in grapefruits, this flavonoids reduces LDL cholesterol oxidation, thereby lowering atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease risk

    For what it’s worth, the riper a banana, the higher its phytonutrient, antioxidant, and flavonoid content.

    If you don’t like the texture of a very ripe banana, I suggest peeling, slicing, freezing, and incorporating it into a smoothie.

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    You Ask, I Answer: A Vegetable-Free Day

    bowlofvegetablesWould it impact your health if you occasionally (i.e. once in 4 or 6 weeks) went for a day without eating any veggies at all, assuming you get your 4-5 servings of vegetables everyday otherwise?

    — Purnima Anand
    New  York, NY

    No.

    When it comes to nutrition’s effects on health, you need to keep in mind the concept of “general dietary patterns”.

    If you consume four to five servings of vegetables 330 days of the year (and, say, none on the other 30 days, which is quite a stretch), you still come out with an average of 3.6 to 4.5 servings per day for that year.

    By the way: the lower number assumes four servings per day for 330 days, while the higher figure was calculated using five daily servings for 330 days.

    Besides, I’m sure that on the days you don’t eat any vegetables you are eating other healthful foods (ie: seeds, nuts, fruits, whole grains, spices, etc.) that offer fiber, phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

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    Numbers Game: Answer

    sweetpotatoesSweet potato skins contain roughly three times the antioxidants contained in the vegetable’s flesh.

    This probably helps you understand why I always advocate eating the skin of fruits and vegetables (as long as they are edible, of course).

    Not only are skins a good source of fiber and certain nutrients — they also provide their own share of antioxidants and phytonutrients.

    For example, one hundred percent of an apple’s quercetin (an antioxidant that  has been linked to lower inflammation levels as well as decreased risk of prostate and lung cancers) content is in its skin!

    Whether you make sweet potato mash, baked sweet potatoes, or oven-roasted sweet potatoes, leave the peeler in your kitchen drawer!

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    You Ask, I Answer: Sea Vegetables

    DulseIn the past, you have written that seaweed is a good source of omega-3 for vegans, but what are the benefits for those of us who already eat fish?

    Is there any reason to eat sea vegetables if you already get omega-3s from animal sources?

    — Tom Emilio
    (Location withheld)

    Absolutely!  Their EPA content (one of the two omega 3 fatty acids found exclusively in fish and seaweed) is only one of their many benefits.

    All sea vegetables are great low-calorie sources of iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium, vitamin A, and vitamin K.

    Another bonus?  Sea vegetables have their own share of unique phytonutrients and antioxidants that help lower risk for heart disease and many different cancers.  This is why I often say that oceans have a very worthy produce section!

    Many people erroneously assume all seaweed is slimy, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

    You can purchase sheets of thin, crunchy nori (wonderful mixed into salads or used to wrap vegetables and avocado), dried chewy dulse (pictured, right), or hijiki (which, when cooked, has a consistency similar to that of rice).

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    Numbers Game: Skin Is In

    sweetpotatoes1Sweet potato skins contain roughly _____ times the antioxidants contained in the vegetable’s flesh.

    a) 1.5
    b) 2.5
    c) 3
    d) 4.5

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Saturday for the answer.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Antioxidants in Honey & Maple Syrup

    maple_syrupDespite the fact that calorie-wise they are similar to white sugar, I have heard that honey and maple syrup might possibly be superior sweeteners based upon the fact that they contain significant amounts of antioxidants.

    Any truth to the matter?

    — Corey Clark
    (Location withheld)

    Maple syrup and honey do indeed contain some antioxidants, but you need to remember context.  They are both sources of added sugar and, for the most part, empty calories.

    Yes, maple syrup contains manganese and zinc, but it (along with honey) provides no fiber, protein, or fats — all essential for satiety.

    Ergo, you are looking at empty calories.  Two hundred calories of maple syrup or honey will not satisfy hunger in the same way 200 calories of nuts or beans do.

    Since the goal with all added sugars (white, brown, honey, maple syrup, agave, brown rice syrup, etc.) is to minimize intake, antioxidant content is a moot point.

    Ideally, added sugar intake should be limited at two tablespoons per day.  This amount of either honey or maple syrup won’t provide much in terms of antioxidants.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Free Radicals

    antioxidant-protecting-cellWhat exactly are free radicals, and how worried should I be about them?

    I realize I have barely a kindergarten concept of them.

    — @Beth_Pettit
    Via Twitter

    The concept of free radicals within the scope of health and nutrition can get super complicated, but here is an informative, simple-as-I-can-make-it “101” crash course.

    Free radicals are compounds with both positive and negative characteristics.

    Their main positive function relates to our immune system.  Our body actually deploys free radicals when it detects a foreign substance in the body.

    Without free radicals, our bodies would have a harder time combating most viruses and bacteria.

    Unfortunately, that’s where the good news ends.

    Free radicals have what is called a “free-floating electron”.  This makes free radicals very upset, since they want that electron to be paired off with another one.

    In their quest to find another electron, they scour all over the place, damaging cells and DNA in the process.

    DNA damage is particularly disturbing, as it is the chief cause behind degenerative diseases like cancer.

    While our cells have some built-in protection against free radicals, there is only so much they can take before they basically become powerless.

    What makes the issue of free radicals complicated is that there is no way to avoid them.  Most free radicals are byproducts of necessary metabolic processes (like digesting food and cell regeneration).

    Of course, certain factors increase free radical content in our bodies.  These include:

    • Air and water pollution
    • Smoking
    • Emotional stress
    • Exposure to radiation
    • Pesticides
    • Excessive intakes of omega-6 fatty acids
    • Aging

    The best thing you can do to limit as much damage possible?  You guessed it — eat a healthy diet.

    Consider this: most of the enzymes our body sends out to attack free radicals are created from nutrients like manganese, selenium, and zinc.

    Diets low in these nutrients are unable to create as good of a defense against free radical damage as diets where these nutrients are consistently consumed in adequate amounts.

    While vitamins C and E are well-known for their antioxidant (that’s code for “free-radical-neutralizing”) capacities, keep in mind that the thousands of phytonutrients in whole, unprocessed foods also help minimize cellular damage.

    FYI: to read more about antioxidants, I HIGHLY recommend you read this post.

    This is precisely why you want to be sure to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes — all those foods are packed with unique and exclusive compounds that provide plenty of assistance.

    It is also crucial to eat whole foods that intrinsically contain these compounds (as opposed to supplements that isolate certain ones) since clinical research has clearly demonstrated that in order to work effectively, these compounds need to work in tandem.

    As morbid as it sounds, free radicals are also the body’s way of guaranteeing eventual death.  A person in their eighties produces much higher amounts of free radicals than someone in their thirties.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Nutrition and Cancer Risk

    10_foods_berries_raychel_deppeWhat foods reduce the risk of cancer the most?

    — Ronald (Last name unknown)
    (Location unknown)

    In terms of overall cancer risk, it is pretty clear that diets high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seafood, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices appear to have a more protective effect than those high in red meat and dairy products.

    FYI: many people — nutritionists included — often forget the power of consistent intakes of herbs and spices, all of which are loaded with phytonutrients and antioxidants.

    That is not to say, of course, that cancer can be prevented simply by eating healthy, since other factors like stress, pollution, and genetics play a prominent role as well.

    Also, I am not stating that meat or dairy cause cancer.  As I have explained in previous posts, part of the dilemma with nutrition research lies in determining if a certain diet increases cancer risk because of what it is high in or because of what it offers little of.

    What is absolutely obvious, though, is that phytonutrients and biochemical compounds (like flavonoids and antioxidants) play crucial roles in cancer risk reduction, and diets low in plant foods offer much lower amounts of these compounds.

    I consider the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research two top-notch sources for information regarding nutrition and cancer.  Here are some of their conclusions based on reviews of thousands of large-scale long-term clinical studies:

    • Non-starchy vegetables are most helpful in reducing risk of mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, and stomach cancers
    • Allium vegetables (garlic, onions, scallions, leeks, etc.)  have been found to be most effective against stomach cancers
    • There is also substantial evidence of garlic having a protective effect against colorectal cancer
    • Fruits (this includes avocados!) are implicated in risk-reduction of mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, lung, and stomach cancers
    • Nuts and seeds have a protective effect against prostate cancer

    As you may suspect, one rather frustrating issue — at least for me — with large-scale nutrition research studies (the ones that receive significant funding and often make significant discoveries) is that, understandably, they tend to focus on commonly-consumed foods.  It makes sense; after all, it’s most helpeful to determine what effect mainstream dietary patterns have on health, since those literally affect tens of millions of individuals.

    However, this means that a lot of wonderful, but not as commonly consumed, foods chock-full of nutrition (think quinoa, maca, ginger, cumin, wild rice, goji berries, tempeh, kale, hemp seeds, etc.) are barely investigated.  Heck, even sweet potatoes have largely been ignored.

    It’s clear these foods have health-promoting properties and offer plenty of nutrition, but I wish there were more clinical studies looking at their effect on health.

    In conclusion, though, you can never go wrong with whole, minimally processed foods.

    Keep in mind my “dartboard” visual:

    • The center circle is for foods you want to eat on a daily basis.  This circle should be mainly made up of minimally processed plant-based foods.
    • The second outer circle is for foods that can be enjoyed four or five times a month.
    • The third outer circle is for foods that are best consumed no more than once or twice a month

    PS: One of my absolute biggest pet-peeves is rankings of healthy foods.  I consider articles or television segments which state that an apple is healthier than an orange, which in turn is healthier than a banana a complete joke.  The fact that a fruit has 10 percent more vitamin C than another does not make it superior (because, chances are, that other fruit contains unique phytonutrients).

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    You Ask, I Answer: Antioxidant Loss in Decaffeinated Tea?

    800px-tea_bagsI’ve recently switched to decaf green teas and am concerned that I might not be getting the same amount of antioxidants/polyphenols because of the process used.

    I’ve read that chemical processing removes a great deal of these along with the caffeine. My vendor lists the process for their teas as non-chemical Carbon Dioxide.

    Am I really losing that much by drinking decaf teas?

    I’ve also read that by steeping for 30 seconds and tossing the water out to steep again a second time removes a great deal of the caffeine because it’s very water soluable.

    I wonder how much caffeine that simple water based process can really remove.

    — Angelo Iacovella
    Doylestown, PA

    In the same way that different cooking techniques affect the nutrient content of food differently, the same applies to decaffeination processes.

    The most common form of decaffeinating a beverage is through the use of ethyl acetate, a chemical solvent.

    Since that is the most common form, it is also the process that has garnered the most research attention.

    The general consensus is that this form of caffeine extraction significantly reduces polyphenol and antioxidants levels in green tea (loss figures range from 40 to 75 percent per 8-ounce cup).

    This is not to say green tea becomes “unhealthy” or nutritionally worthless, but rather that its health-promoting properties are diminished.

    Keep in mind, though, that fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds also offer a wide array of polyphenols and antioxidants.

    Green tea offers some wonderfully healthy compounds, but it is not a magical potion.

    Carbon dioxide decaffeination is more expensive, and therefore far less common.  A small number of studies have looked at its effects on specific antioxidants and components found in green tea (mainly cacethins).

    The good news?  This process is less harsh on the studied components.

    The “not quite spectacular” news?  There is no research that demonstrates what effect, if any, carbon dioxide decaffeination has on other health-promoting components found in green tea.

    Let’s now answer your question regarding levels of caffeine extracted from throwing out water used to steep tea for 30 seconds.

    As that is not my field of expertise, I got in touch with three food chemists, all of whom are very familiar with the chemical properties of caffeine.

    Their consensus?  While caffeine is water soluble, thirty seconds is not enough time to warrant a substantial loss.

    One of them made mention to a study from approximately ten years ago (although he did not remember the journal in which it was published) which found that steeping a tea bag for five minutes resulted in two thirds of the caffeine content leeching out into the water.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Raw vs. Cooked Vegetables

    celeryCan you please give us a list of vegetables that impart more nutrition when cooked vs. raw?

    I almost always prefer raw but, for example, in your article on carrots, you mention that they are more nutritious cooked vs. raw.

    Are there any other vegetables like  that?

    — Val (Last name unknown)
    (Location Unknown)

    In case this is your first time visiting Small Bites, Val’s question is in reference to a posting from a while back where I mentioned that the carotenoids (a group of phytonutrients) in orange, red, and yellow vegetables — such as carrots — become more bioavailable when that vegetable is cooked.

    While raw vegetables are nutritious in their own right, cooking vegetables is a great way to unleash their mineral content.  Cooking breaks down the cell wall, which is where the majority of minerals are stored.

    Recent research has also shown that antioxidants in celery, carrots, and tomatoes become more bioavailable when these vegetables are cooked.

    When you cook vegetables, the idea is to have minimal contact with water (which is why steaming and roasting are a better choice than boiling) in order to preserve as many nutrients as possible.

    The  bottom line is simple — for optimal health benefits, include plenty of vegetables (roughly 2 cups) in your diet every day (or as often as possible).

    I always counsel people to simply consume vegetables in whichever state they consider tastier (barring deep-frying, of course).  After all, the more pleasing your palate finds a food, the more likely you are to eat it!

    Personally, I think the best tactic is to eat both raw and cooked vegetables.

    Keep in mind that vitamins A, D, E, and K — as well as many health-promoting phytonutrients — must be eaten along with a small amount of fat in order to be absorbed.  This is why an all-vegetable salad with fat-free dressing (or simply vinegar and lemon) is a waste of nutrients!

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    You Ask, I Answer: What Makes Brown Rice Healthier?

    b6-brown-rice-lgWhy is brown rice considered so much better than white rice?

    The food labels for each one aren’t all that different.  Brown rice just has a little more fiber.

    So, what’s the big deal?

    — Jessica Bracanti
    (City withheld), CT

    As helpful as food labels can be in guiding our food choices, they barely tell the true tale of a food’s whole nutritional profile.

    You are right — strictly from a food label standpoint, brown rice doesn’t seem to have many advantages over white rice.  It’s what you don’t see on the food label that makes all the difference!

    Brown rice contains significantly higher levels of phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, selenium, and vitamin E.

    If there were no enrichment laws (those which require that nutrients lost in processing be added back to refined grains like white rice), brown rice would also contain higher levels of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, iron, and vitamin B6 than its white counterpart.

    Remember, though, that vitamins and minerals are only part of  a food’s nutritional profile.

    Since brown rice is a whole grain, it offers you its bran and germ components — and all their health-promoting phytonutrients and antioxidants..

    Some preliminary research indicates that specific components in rice bran oil lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.  Add to that to brown rice’s soluble fibers (which are also implicated in decreasing LDL cholesterol) and you have a heart-healthy one-two punch.

    These are the same fibers, by the way, that help achieve a longer feeling of fullness more quickly.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Is There A Difference Between Fruits and Vegetables?

    FruitStandI love to eat fruit.  I would guess I eat six or seven pieces each day.

    I sometimes go for weeks without eating a single vegetable, but a lot of fruit.

    Is that healthy?  My diet is otherwise varied (don’t worry, Andy, I’m not a fruitarian!)

    — James Spoli
    Queens, NY

    Fruits are certainly healthy (especially since you eat them whole, rather than in juice form), but they do not take the place of vegetables in the diet.

    Many people tend to think of fruits and vegetables as one large group of foods because they are so often paired up together in mainstream nutrition guidelines.

    However, since certain antioxidants and phytonutrients are exclusively found in vegetables, I recommend you incorporate a few into your diet.

    This is why variety is a key component of a healthy diet. The more varied your diet, the more nutrition you get.

    Variety isn’t solely a matter of eating different types of food (ie: fruits, vegetables. nuts, grains, etc.)

    You also need to aim for diversity within each food group.  For example, if almonds are the only nuts you eat and carrots and peppers are the only vegetables you eat, you are missing out on a lot of healthy components that are unique to other nuts and vegetables.

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