Health and Wellness

I Eat White Rice (Gasp!)

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Those of you that know me, know that I am a clean(ish) eater.  Have I removed every possible processed food from my life? No.  Do I obsess daily if a bit of sugar gets into my body? No.  (Are you kidding me?  I love dessert!)  Do I freak out if I’m tired and don’t want to cook and hubby brings home burgers?  No.  But I do make an effort to at least balance out the pathetic nutrition in the standard American diet, with real foods as often as possible.   Which leads me to my Earth-shattering confession.  I eat white rice!!  (I know….shocking).

Don’t get me wrong, my hat is off to all you super-moms and dads out there that have the time, energy, and dedication to ONLY serve the best of the best to your family.  I do not fall into that category.  Honestly, I couldn’t tell you what, exactly, I do all day; but at the end of each, I am exhausted and overwhelmed by all the things that remain undone, so I guess I must be doing something.  If any of you can point out something I’ve accomplished on any given day, please feel free to step forward. Please?  Haha.

I Eat White RiceOk, let’s talk about the rice already.  When I first started learning about the nutrition (or general lack thereof) in our modern diets, I agonized over what changes I could make to my family’s diet that would not cause them to stage a hostile coup of my kitchen, but still afford them better nutrition than the standard American diet (S.A.D.)  Rice was one of those foods.  I mean, seriously, who actually likes brown rice?  {Be honest!} Yuck!

As I’m sure you’ve heard, brown rice is touted as nutritionally superior to white rice due to the grains remaining intact, thus preserving the nutrients that would otherwise be discarded in white rice.  The nutrients live in the hull, or the bran, of the kernel.  In processing brown rice, only the outer husk is removed, leaving the hull intact.  In white rice, this hull is removed in processing which removes most of the vitamins and nutrients.  You would think that this is a bad thing, right?  Well, only partially.  You see, there is a little known monster that also lives in the hull of the rice called phytic acid.

Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient.  That means exactly what you think it means, it robs your body of the nutrients you already have in your system, on top of hogging up all the nutrients in the brown rice.  Bad phytic acid – very naughty! 

The hull of the brown rice is a good source of B vitamins, such as thiamin and niacin, and also provides iron, phosphorus, and magnesium; but the phytic acid is stingy about it and refuses to release those vitamins and minerals to our bodies.  In fact, not only does it bind those nutrients and make them unavailable, it also grabs other minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc that we already have in our bodies, and takes them out as well.  But even then, phytic acid is not satisfied that it has done enough damage.  Nope, it’s a bully and wants to do more harm so it also inhibits the production of enzymes needed to digest our food properly.  So, basically, eating brown rice [unless properly prepared] is an exercise in futility if you are seeking the health benefits that it claims to offer.  If you’re already mineral deficient, which most of us are, you’re not doing yourself any favors with brown rice.

There are a few different schools of thought with regard to properly preparing brown rice for consumption to minimize the havoc that phytic acid wreaks.  If you are more organized, and less A.D.D., than I am, either of these methods will probably work well for you if you actually like brown rice and want to continue serving it to your family.

One method is the traditional soak in which you add 1 cup of brown rice, to two cups of warm water and 2 Tbsp of liquid whey or apple cider vinegar and let it soak for 8 -12 hours before cooking.  In theory, the acids in the whey or vinegar activate phytase in the brown rice which breaks down the phytic acid and renders it helpless to steal from your body.  This method is generally accepted among real food activists and traditional food foodies as effective.  This is how I prepare my brown rice if I’m going to eat it.

The second method is to soak your rice in plain warm water (de-chlorinated) for 24 hours or more, rinsing and changing the water a couple of times.  The proponents of this method claim that because brown rice is pathetically lacking in phytase to start with, the acid soaking medium in the first method doesn’t do much (if anything at all) to break down the phytic acid.  The trouble with using the second method is that it is not very effective at all with your first few batches of rice.  You see, you’re supposed to retain some of the soaking water with each batch and re-use it over and over again to get ideal results.  {Note:  I’ve read that some people retain their soaking medium and re-use it with the first method as well, I have not tried this.}  

All that said, with my life being as chaotic as it is, I will most like remember to pre-soak my brown rice 1 time out of 30.

The medical professionals and scientists of today indicate that research points to white rice as a potential cause for type 2 diabetes.  Now, I guess it could work that way if we ate rice three times a day every day, but I seriously question the dangers of eating white rice a couple of times a week as a major factor in type 2 diabetes.  Yes, it has a slightly higher glycemic index than brown rice which only means that it breaks down into sugar more quickly in our bodies, it in no way indicates that brown rice doesn’t do the same thing.  It just takes a little longer.  The other problem I have found with brown rice (other than its “crunchy” taste and texture) is that, even after soaking properly, the phytic acid isn’t reduced all that much while all that excess fiber causes digestive problems.  When I eat brown rice, it feels like I have a brick sitting in the bottom of my stomach which just isn’t that pleasant of a sensation.  In fact, some researchers have even suggested that diets super high in fiber could be a major factor in developing colon cancer.  I know you’ve all heard that fiber in our diets is necessary to keep things moving along (ya know what I mean?) but if you’re not prone to problems in this area, then I wouldn’t suggest consuming large amounts of fiber because our bodies can’t digest it.  That’s why it’s helpful to keep things moving.

So, in summation, you can spend a lot of time and effort pre-planning and soaking brown rice for minimal effectiveness in preserving its natural nutritive values; or, you can just eat white rice.  I choose the latter!

Happy Monday, friends!  Have some home-made Chinese food today and enjoy your guilt-free white rice.

Hugs, Trixie

3 Comments

  • Reply

    Jodie @Jodies Kitchen

    March 3, 2014

    Loved the read Trixie.Very nice.

  • Reply

    Cindy Hyatt

    March 3, 2014

    …interesting!!! Good to know!! Thanks!! 🙂

    • Reply

      Just Trixie

      March 3, 2014

      It is, huh. I was beating myself up over eating white rice, when “everybody” knows that brown rice is healthier. LOL. Now, I know better and I can totally enjoy my white rice without guilt.

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