Fiber from Whole Grains and Fruit Protective against Breast Cancer
When researchers looked at how much fiber 35,972 participants in the UK Women's Cohort Study ate, they found a diet rich in fiber from whole grains, such as brown rice, and fruit offered significant protection against breast cancer for pre-menopausal women. (Cade JE, Burley VJ, et al., International Journal of Epidemiology).
Pre-menopausal women eating the most fiber (>30 grams daily) more than halved their risk of developing breast cancer, enjoying a 52% lower risk of breast cancer compared to women whose diets supplied the least fiber (<20 grams/day).
Fiber supplied by whole grains offered the most protection. Pre-menopausal women eating the most whole grain fiber (at least 13 g/day) had a 41% reduced risk of breast cancer, compared to those with the lowest whole grain fiber intake (4 g or less per day).
Fiber from fruit was also protective. Pre-menopausal women whose diets supplied the most fiber from fruit (at least 6 g/day) had a 29% reduced risk of breast cancer, compared to those with the lowest fruit fiber intake (2 g or less per day).
Practical Tip: As the following table shows, it's surprisingly easy to enjoy a healthy way of eating that delivers at least 13 grams of whole grain fiber and 6 grams of fiber from fruit each day.
|Food||Fiber Content in Grams|
|Oatmeal, 1 cup||3.98|
|Whole wheat bread, 1 slice||2|
|Whole wheat spaghetti, 1 cup||6.3|
|Brown rice, 1 cup||3.5|
|Barley, 1 cup||13.6|
|Buckwheat, 1 cup||4.54|
|Rye, 1/3 cup||8.22|
|Corn, 1 cup||4.6|
|Apple, 1 medium with skin||5.0|
|Banana, 1 medium||4.0|
|Blueberries, 1 cup||3.92|
|Orange, 1 large||4.42|
|Pear, 1 large||5.02|
|Prunes, 1/4 cup||3.02|
|Strawberries, 1 cup||3.82|
|Raspberries, 1 cup||8.36|
*Fiber content can vary between brands. Source: esha Research, Food Processor for Windows, Version 7.8
Help Prevent Gallstones
Eating foods high in insoluble fiber, such as brown rice, can help women avoid gallstones, shows a study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.
Studying the overall fiber intake and types of fiber consumed over a 16 year period by over 69,000 women in the Nurses Health Study, researchers found that those consuming the most fiber overall (both soluble and insoluble) had a 13% lower risk of developing gallstones compared to women consuming the fewest fiber-rich foods.
Those eating the most foods rich in insoluble fiber gained even more protection against gallstones: a 17% lower risk compared to women eating the least. And the protection was dose-related; a 5-gram increase in insoluble fiber intake dropped risk dropped 10%.
How do foods rich in insoluble fiber help prevent gallstones? Researchers think insoluble fiber not only speeds intestinal transit time (how quickly food moves through the intestines), but reduces the secretion of bile acids (excessive amounts contribute to gallstone formation), increases insulin sensitivity and lowers triglycerides (blood fats). Abundant not just in brown rice but all whole grains, insoluble fiber is also found in nuts and the edible skin of fruits and vegetables including tomatoes, cucumbers, many squash, apples, berries, and pears. In addition, beans provide insoluble as well as soluble fiber.
Whole Grains and Fish Highly Protective against Childhood Asthma
According to the American Lung Association, almost 20 million Americans suffer from asthma, which is reported to be responsible for over 14 million lost school days in children, and an annual economic cost of more than $16.1 billion.
Increasing consumption of whole grains and fish could reduce the risk of childhood asthma by about 50%, suggests the International Study on Allergy and Asthma in Childhood (Tabak C, Wijga AH, Thorax).
The researchers, from the Dutch National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, Utrecht University, University Medical Center Groningen, used food frequency questionnaires completed by the parents of 598 Dutch children aged 8-13 years. They assessed the children's consumption of a range of foods including fish, fruits, vegetables, dairy and whole grain products. Data on asthma and wheezing were also assessed using medical tests as well as questionnaires.
While no association between asthma and intake of fruits, vegetables, and dairy products was found (a result at odds with other studies that have supported a link between antioxidant intake, particularly vitamins C and E, and asthma), the children's intake of both whole grains and fish was significantly linked to incidence of wheezing and current asthma.
In children with a low intake of fish and whole grains, the prevalence of wheezing was almost 20%, but was only 4.2% in children with a high intake of both foods. Low intake of fish and whole grains also correlated with a much higher incidence of current asthma (16.7%). compared to only a 2.8% incidence of current asthma among children with a high intake of both foods.
After adjusting results for possible confounding factors, such as the educational level of the mother, and total energy intake, high intakes of whole grains and fish were found to be associated with a 54 and 66% reduction in the probability of being asthmatic, respectively.
The probability of having asthma with bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR), defined as having an increased sensitivity to factors that cause narrowing of the airways, was reduced by 72 and 88% when children had a high-intake of whole grains and fish, respectively. Lead researcher, CoraTabak commented, "The rise in the prevalence of asthma in western societies may be related to changed dietary habits." We agree. The Standard American Diet is sorely deficient in the numerous anti-inflammatory compounds found in fish and whole grains, notably, the omega-3 fats supplied by cold water fish and the magnesium and vitamin E provided by whole grains. One caution: wheat may need to be avoided as it is a common food allergen associated with asthma.
Meta-analysis Explains Whole Grains' Health Benefits
In many studies, eating whole grains, such as brown rice, has been linked to protection against atherosclerosis, ischemic stroke, diabetes, insulin resistance, obesity, and premature death. A new study and accompanying editorial, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition explains the likely reasons behind these findings and recommends at least 3 servings of whole grains should be eaten daily.
Whole grains are excellent sources of fiber. In this meta-analysis of 7 studies including more than 150,000 persons, those whose diets provided the highest dietary fiber intake had a 29% lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those with the lowest fiber intake.
But it's not just fiber's ability to serve as a bulking agent that is responsible for its beneficial effects as a component of whole grains. Wheat bran, for example, which constitutes 15% of most whole-grain wheat kernels but is virtually non-existent in refined wheat flour, is rich in minerals, antioxidants, lignans, and other phytonutrients-as well as in fiber.
In addition to the matrix of nutrients in their dietary fibers, the whole-grain arsenal includes a wide variety of additional nutrients and phytochemicals that reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Compounds in whole grains that have cholesterol-lowering effects include polyunsaturated fatty acids, oligosaccharides, plant sterols and stanols, and saponins.
Whole grains are also important dietary sources of water-soluble, fat-soluble, and insoluble antioxidants. The long list of cereal antioxidants includes vitamin E, tocotrieonols, selenium, phenolic acids, and phytic acid. These multifunctional antioxidants come in immediate-release to slow-release forms and thus are available throughout the gastrointestinal tract over a long period after being consumed.
The high antioxidant capacity of wheat bran, for example, is 20-fold that of refined wheat flour (endosperm). Although the role of antioxidant supplements in protecting against cardiovascular disease has been questioned, prospective population studies consistently suggest that when consumed in whole foods, antioxidants are associated with significant protection against cardiovascular disease. Because free radical damage to cholesterol appears to contribute significantly to the development of atherosclerosis, the broad range of antioxidant activities from the phytonutrients abundant in whole grains is thought to play a strong role in their cardio-protective effects.
Like soybeans, whole grains are good sources of phytoestrogens, plant compounds that may affect blood cholesterol levels, blood vessel elasticity, bone metabolism, and many other cellular metabolic processes.
Whole grains are rich sources of lignans that are converted by the human gut to enterolactone and enterodiole. In studies of Finnish men, blood levels of enterolactone have been found to have an inverse relation not just to cardiovascular-related death, but to all causes of death, which suggests that the plant lignans in whole grains may play an important role in their protective effects.
Lower insulin levels may also contribute to the protective effects of whole grains. In many persons, the risks of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity are linked to insulin resistance. Higher intakes of whole grains are associated with increased sensitivity to insulin in population studies and clinical trials. Why? Because whole grains improve insulin sensitivity by lowering the glycemic index of the diet while increasing its content of fiber, magnesium, and vitamin E.
The whole kernel of truth: as part of your healthy way of eating, whole grains can significantly lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Enjoy at least 3 servings a day. No idea how to cook whole grains? Just look at the "How to Enjoy" section in our profiles of the whole grains, or for quick, easy, delicious recipes, click on this link to our Recipe Assistant and select brown rice or whichever whole grain you would like to prepare.
For all the health benefits brown rice can provide, don't forget to make this delicious, nutty-flavored grain a frequent addition to your meals.
Rice is one of the most important foods in the world, supplying as much as half of the daily calories for half of the world's population. No wonder that in Asian countries, such as Thailand, rice is so highly valued that the translation of the word "to eat" literally means "to eat rice."
Asked to name the types of rice they are familiar with, people may be able to recall one or two. Yet, in actuality there is an abundance of different types of rice-over 8,000 varieties. Oftentimes, rice is categorized by its size as being either short grain, medium grain or long grain. Short grain, which has the highest starch content, makes the stickiest rice, while long grain is lighter and tends to remain separate when cooked. The qualities of medium grain fall between the other two types.
The scientific name for rice is Oryza sativa.
Another way that rice is classified is according to the degree of milling that it undergoes. This is what makes a brown rice different than white rice. Brown rice, often referred to as whole rice or cargo rice, is the whole grain with only its inedible outer hull removed. Brown rice still retains its nutrient-rich bran and germ. White rice, on the other hand, is both milled and polished, which removes the bran and germ along with all the nutrients that reside within these important layers.
Some of the most popular varieties of rice in this country include:
- Arborio: A round grain, starchy white rice, traditionally used to make the Italian dish risotto.
- Basmati: An aromatic rice that has a nutlike fragrance, delicate flavor and light texture.
- Sweet rice: Almost translucent when it is cooked, this very sticky rice is traditionally used to make sushi and mochi.
- Jasmine: A soft-textured long grain aromatic rice that is available in both brown and white varieties.
- Bhutanese red rice: Grown in the Himalayas, this red colored rice has a nutty, earthy taste.
- Forbidden rice: A black colored rice that turns purple upon cooking and has a sweet taste and sticky texture.
Everyone knows that rice is an ancient food, but only recently have we discovered just how ancient it is. Rice was believed to have been first cultivated in China around 6,000 years ago, but recent archaeological discoveries have found primitive rice seeds and ancient farm tools dating back about 9,000 years.
For the majority of its long history, rice was a staple only in Asia. Not until Arab travelers introduced rice into ancient Greece, and Alexander the Great brought it to India, did rice find its way to other corners of the world. Subsequently, the Moors brought rice to Spain in the 8th century during their conquests, while the Crusaders were responsible for bringing rice to France. Rice was introduced into South America in the 17th century by the Spanish during their colonization of this continent.
The majority of the world's rice is grown in Asia, where it plays an incredibly important role in their food culture. Thailand, Vietnam and China are the three largest exporters of rice.
Rice is available prepackaged as well as in bulk containers. If purchasing brown rice in a packaged container, check to see if there is a "use-by" date on the package since brown rice, owing to its natural oils, has the potential to become rancid if kept too long.
Just as with any other food that you may purchase in the bulk section, make sure that the bins containing the rice are covered and that the store has a good product turnover so as to ensure its maximal freshness. Whether purchasing rice in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure that there is no evidence of moisture.
Since brown rice still features an oil-rich germ, it is more susceptible to becoming rancid than white rice and therefore should be stored in the refrigerator. Stored in an airtight container, brown rice will keep fresh for about six months.
While white rice varieties should also be stored in an airtight container, they can be kept in a cool, dry place rather than the refrigerator. Stored properly, they will keep fresh for about one year.
The storage of cooked rice is controversial. Most organizations recommend 4-7 days of storage in the refrigerator at most. From all of the available evidence, however, and to err on the safe side, we believe it's best to cook only the amount of rice you can consume during the day it is cooked, or at most, the following day.Several potential toxins can be produced in rice under certain conditions involving time, temperature, presence of moisture, bacterial spores, or fungi. It appears that some fungi can turn one of the amino acids (tryptophan) in rice into alpha-picolinic acid, and that this substance, when excessive, can cause hypersensitivity reactions to rice in some persons. Another mycotoxin (fungus-triggered toxin) called T-2 can also be produced in rice by the fungus Fusarium. About 300 mycotoxins are commonly found in many grains, not only rice, when these grains are allowed to become moldy. All of the research we've see on these potential toxins involves cultivation and harvesting of rice at the agricultural level rather than cooking and storage of rice at home. However, we still suggest erring on the safe side here. Be sure to keep your cooked rice in a tightly sealed container when stored in your refrigerator.
For some of our favorite recipes, click Recipes.
Tips for Preparing Rice
Like all grains, before cooking rice, especially that which is sold in bulk, rinse it thoroughly under running water and then remove any dirt or debris that you may find. After rinsing brown rice, add one part rice to two parts boiling water or broth. After the liquid has returned to a boil, turn down the heat, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes.
To prevent them from sticking, wash medium grain and round rice (like Arborio) under cool running water before cooking.
To cook basmati rice, which has a lighter, fluffier texture, soak it in a bowl of cool water before cooking, stirring frequently and replacing the water four or five times until the water no longer has a milky appearance.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas:
Heat up cooked rice with milk or soymilk. Add in cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins and honey for a delicious rice pudding.
Make homemade vegetable sushi rolls by wrapping brown rice and your favorite vegetables in sheets of well-moistened nori.
Use rice leftovers for cold rice salads that are great for on-the-go lunches. Be creative and add either chicken or tofu plus your favorite vegetables, nuts, herbs and spices.
For a simple yet delicious lunch or dinner entrée, serve beans and rice accompanied by the vegetables of your choice.
Rice as a side dish need not be served plain - spruce it up with the toppings of your choice. Some of our favorites include nuts, sesame seeds, healthy sautéed mushrooms, and scallions.
Place rice and chopped vegetables in a pita bread, top with your favorite dressing, and enjoy a quick and easy lunch meal.
Brown rice is not a commonly allergenic food and is not known to contain measurable amounts of oxalates or purines. In fact, the hypoallergenic (low-allergy) nature of whole grain, organic brown rice makes it a grain alternative commonly recommended by healthcare practitioners.
Non-Organic Rice May Contain Traces of Arsenic
Research conducted by Andrew Mehanrg and colleagues from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland has found that rice grown in the U.S. contains from 1.4 to 5 times more arsenic than rice from Europe, India or Bangladesh. However, the U.S. rice contains less of the most toxic species of arsenic than the rice tested from other nations.
U.S. long grain rice had the highest mean arsenic levels at 0.26μg/g with the highest concentration at 0.4 μg/g.
Indian rice had the least arsenic at 0.05μg/g.
Rice from Bangladesh contained the same amount of arsenic as rice from Europe at 0.15 μg/g.
Low doses of arsenic, such as those found in Meharg's survey, do not cause acute illness; however, long term exposure may increase cancer risk. Higher levels of exposure can affect various organs including the skin and the respiratory, cardiovascular, immune, genitourinary, reproductive, gastro-intestinal and nervous systems.
Despite U.S. rice containing the highest concentrations of arsenic, it is difficult to evaluate the possible toxicity of the rice that was tested because inorganic arsenic is five to ten times more toxic than organic arsenic. In the U.S. rice, only 42% of the arsenic was inorganic compared to 81% in the Indian rice, 80% in the Bangladeshi and 64% in European rice. But, as the authors point out, organic arsenic can still cause health problems.
The arsenic contamination of U.S. rice may be the result of earlier cotton farming, which relied on arsenic-based pesticides. Land previously used to grow cotton is now used to cultivate rice, particularly in Mississippi and Arkansas.
When rice was first grown in these states, the crops often failed due to straighthead, an arsenic-induced disease. Varieties of rice were developed that are resistant to straighthead, but this increased the risk of arsenic accumulation in apparently healthy grains. The U.S. is currently reviewing all arsenic-based pesticides. At the World's Healthiest Foods, we recommend erring on the side of safety. Choose organically grown rice whenever possible. For any crop to be labeled as organic, including rice, stringent testing of soils for contaminants, including arsenic, must be passed.
Rice is an excellent source of the trace mineral manganese, and a good source of the minerals selenium and magnesium.
For an in-depth nutritional profile click here: Rice.
In-Depth Nutritional ProfileIn addition to the nutrients highlighted in our ratings chart, an in-depth nutritional profile for Brown rice is also available. This profile includes information on a full array of nutrients, including carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and more.
Introduction to Food Rating System ChartIn order to better help you identify foods that feature a high concentration of nutrients for the calories they contain, we created a Food Rating System. This system allows us to highlight the foods that are especially rich in particular nutrients. The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good, or good source (below the chart you will find a table that explains these qualifications). If a nutrient is not listed in the chart, it does not necessarily mean that the food doesn't contain it. It simply means that the nutrient is not provided in a sufficient amount or concentration to meet our rating criteria. (To view this food's in-depth nutritional profile that includes values for dozens of nutrients - not just the ones rated as excellent, very good, or good - please use the link below the chart.) To read this chart accurately, you'll need to glance up in the top left corner where you will find the name of the food and the serving size we used to calculate the food's nutrient composition. This serving size will tell you how much of the food you need to eat to obtain the amount of nutrients found in the chart. Now, returning to the chart itself, you can look next to the nutrient name in order to find the nutrient amount it offers, the percent Daily Value (DV%) that this amount represents, the nutrient density that we calculated for this food and nutrient, and the rating we established in our rating system. For most of our nutrient ratings, we adopted the government standards for food labeling that are found in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's "Reference Values for Nutrition Labeling." Read more background information and details of our rating system.
In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Brown rice
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