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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014

Brown vs white: are darker foods always better?

Dr Anjali Mukerjee, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, January 08, 2013
First Published: 16:49 IST(8/1/2013) | Last Updated: 13:10 IST(9/1/2013)

When it comes to healthy eating, we’re told to choose our food by colour. The darker and brighter the colour, the more nutrients and phytochemicals they have. But in terms of rice and bread, is brown better than white?

Whole grains and foods in their natural state are rich in brown carbohydrates while refined grains often have white carbohydrates. Therefore, adding more whole grains to our diets and reducing the refined carbs may lead to longer and healthier lives.

Brown rice vs white rice

Brown rice is a very good substitute for white rice. Brown rice is a whole grain unlike white rice where most of the nutrients have been stripped away. Also, brown rice is a good option for weight watchers — the glycemic index of brown rice is 50 and that of white rice is 89 (according to the Harvard health publications).

Brown rice is loaded with vitamins and is rich in fibre, which in turn helps in keeping a healthy bowel function. It also makes you feel fuller on less food and for a longer time. Brown rice is high in selenium, an important trace mineral, which is known to drastically reduce the chances of developing a certain form of cancer, an inflammatory condition and rheumatoid arthritis. Magnesium in brown rice is good for reducing the severity of asthma, lowering blood pressure, reducing the frequency of headaches and the chances of stroke. It also helps in preventing gall stones in women.

Brown bread vs white bread
Brown bread has more vitamins and fibre than white bread. It is made from whole wheat, which usually contains more fibre and nutrient. Nutritionally, whole wheat brown bread is of a higher value than its white counterpart. It is made up of the entire wheat grain, which is high in vitamins and minerals. In the case of white bread, not only is the bran removed from the grain, the flour also goes through more processing to further get the bleached effect.

Another negative effect of eating white bread is the reduced efficiency in digestion and a greater fat storage, which is more often accumulated around the belly. In fact, this is one of the main reasons why weight loss is so difficult for people who consume white bread. It also makes you feel more sluggish and less inclined to want to exercise.

Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and the founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre.  

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