Stop the Hate! Brown Rice Really isn’t All That Great.Yeah, so, that other thing that the rice bran has to bestow upon our righteously-healthy-whole-grain-eating selves? Phytic acid! Yes. The primary anti-nutrient we traditional foodies work so hard to negate by soaking, sprouting, or fermenting our grains. Rice bran is very high in phytic acid, which binds to minerals in your body and leaches them out of you. What’s that you say? Just soak the rice, as you would traditionally prepare other whole grains, and the phytic acid will be neutralized? Not according to one of the biggest phytic acid haters of all time (and one of the most knowledgable experts on the subject), author of Cure Tooth Decay, Ramiel Nagel. He says that soaking brown rice does very little to neutralize it, and that before we had machines to make white rice, traditional people used to pound the rice up with a mortar and pestle and then sift out the bran, making the available minerals more absorbable since the phytic acid in the bran is removed. Smart! So, let’s recap. The phytic acid in rice lives in the bran. White rice doesn’t have it. The only other thing the bran is good for is fiber, which you really probably don’t need, and can harm you when eaten in excess. And the germ is filled with easily-oxidized PUFA oils. Also not present in white rice.
Starting to see where I’m coming from with my love for this much-maligned “processed” grain?
White Rice Nutrition: Starch is SuperSo, what are we left with when we take away the oily, rancid germ and the mineral-depleting phytic acid from our little friend, the grain of rice? The endosperm. Which is essentially pure starch. Sadly, this has become somewhat of a dirty word in the world of nutrition. People who advocate low-carb and so-called “ancestral” diets often like to say that starch is toxic because it breaks down into glucose, which raises insulin, which can cause problems like insulin resistance. Here’s the thing, though, about our bodies. We run on glucose. It’s our primary fuel source, and we need it. And glucose from carbohydrates like starch doesn’t actually cause insulin resistance at all. In fact, it’s a huge part of the diet of many, many healthy traditional cultures.
“There are literally billions of people eating high-starch diets worldwide, and you can find many examples of cultures that consume a large percentage of calories from starch where obesity, metabolic problems and modern, inflammatory disease are rare or nonexistent. These include the Kitava in the Pacific Islands, Tukisenta in the Papa New Guinea Highlands and Okinawans in Japan among others. The Kitavan diet is 69% carb, 21% fat, and 10% protein. The Okinawan diet is even more carb-heavy, at 85% carb, 9% protein and 6% fat. The Tukisenta diet is astonishingly high in carbohydrate: 94.6% according to extensive studies in the 60s and 70s. All of these cultures are fit and lean with low and practically non-existent rates of heart disease and other modern chronic disease.” Chris Kresser, L.Ac; ChrisKresser.comDon’t get me wrong… I’m not advocating low-fat or 95% carb or anything, here (and neither is Chris). It’s just important that we understand that starch is a nutrient in its own right, eating lots of it can be congruent with health and leanness, and it doesn’t have to be eaten only in “moderation.” White rice is an excellent source of healthful starch and supplies the body with needed glucose. Oh and also? Getting plenty of glucose flowing into your body is a hugely important part of fixing a slow metabolism. My mother, who’s been using Diet Recovery to raise her body temperatures, heal hypothyroidism, and improve her metabolism, says that nothing gets her temperature rising (literally) quite like white rice. A scoop or two of the stuff and she’s one burnin’ hot mama. I’m not surprised. It’s a great source of quick, easily digestible glucose. White rice to the metabolic rescue!