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The colour brown

It’s not just the fibre and vitamins; wholegrain brown rice has a compound that may protect you from high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

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Replacing that familiar mound of white on your plate with a brown variety may do a world of good to your heart. Nutritionists have known for a while that brown rice is healthier, and been exhorting rice eaters to choose the wholegrain brown type instead of polished white ones. Brown rice, they said, is rich in certain minerals and vitamins and dietary fibre, which are lost in white rice following milling and polishing.

But that’s not the end of its goodness, it now emerges. A recent study by a team of US and Japanese scientists points to the “clinical significance” of brown rice. The researchers have found that brown rice contains a compound — which is, however, yet to be isolated and identified — that offers protection against high blood pressure and cardiovascular ailments. The compound is located in a layer surrounding the grain, called subaleurone layer, which is stripped off when the milled grain is polished to a shine. This layer lies between the white centre of the grain and the brown fibrous outer layer, and is abundant in certain beneficial carbohydrates and dietary fibre. It also accounts for a good measure of nutrients such as magnesium and iron, and vitamins like niacin, vitamin B1 and vitamin B6.

More significantly, the scientists found that a new milling process developed by a Japanese firm three years ago allows the rice to retain the subaleurone layer. Thisrice, available only in Japan, has a golden tinge and appears similar to brown rice, but tastes more like white rice as it is not tough and chewy like the other.

The scientists, led by Satoru Eguchi of the Cardiovascular Research Center at the Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, found that when an extract of subaleurone compounds dissolved in ethyl acetate was applied to vascular smooth muscle cells cultured in a dish, it inhibited the activity of angiotensin II, a hormone strongly implicated in hypertension and atherosclerosis. Vascular smooth muscle cells are typical cells found in the walls of blood vessels. Their contraction and relaxation in tune with the local blood pressure and blood volume is responsible for the distribution of blood to different organs in the body. Excessive constriction of smooth muscle cells in normal blood vessels leads to hypertension, while in the case of heart muscles it leads to a hardening of the arteries.

“We strongly believe the compound may be present in all rice varieties (including those consumed in India), even though its strength may vary,” says Eguchi.

The researchers say that the compound apparently inhibits the production of angiotensin II by interfering with the body’s signalling mechanism that orders its conversion from angiotensin I, which is relatively harmless. Many modern drugs for blood pressure already target enzymes that trigger the production of angiotensin II.

“Our research suggests that there is a potential ingredient in rice that may be a good starting point for looking into preventive medicine for cardiovascular diseases,” says Eguchi. Such health benefits may accrue if half-milled or brown rice is included in the diet, he adds.

“Studies in the past have only partly answered what the mechanism behind this is. The particular compound which offers the benefit is yet to be identified,” Eguchi told KnowHow. The Japan-born scientist, who has been studying the beneficial effects of the subaleurone layer of rice for the last three years, says work is on to identify the compound and elucidate its chemical composition.

“This is an interesting find,” says Kanwaljit Chopra, associate professor at the University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Punjab University, Chandigarh. “The study indicates the possibility of a promising drug molecule from rice for cardiovascular protection.” Chopra herself has worked on a compound called tocotrienol, which is abundant in rice and oil palm and has shown that it may have potential benefits for people suffering from diabetes-related kidney problems.

“Angiotensin II is a big villain when it comes to atherosclerosis,” she says. The Punjab University professor, however, feels there is a need for the scientists to identify the compound and repeat similar results in animals and humans before claiming that the study is a success.

Another study by a team of researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health last year had shown that eating two servings of brown rice every week lowered the risk of type 2 diabetes by about 16 per cent. The research, led by Qi Sun — who subsequently moved to the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston — showed that dietary fibre, found abundantly in brown rice, helps deter diabetes by slowing the rush of sugar into the blood stream.

White rice comparison:
Brown rice and white rice have similar amounts of calories, carbohydrates, and protein. The main differences between the two forms of rice lie in processing and nutritional content.

When only the outermost layer of a grain of rice (the husk) is removed, brown rice is produced. To produce white rice, the next layers underneath the husk (the bran layer and the germ) are removed, leaving mostly the starchy endosperm.

Several vitamins and dietary minerals are lost in this removal and the subsequent polishing process. A part of these missing nutrients, such as vitamin B1, vitamin B3, and iron are sometimes added back into the white rice making it “enriched”, as food suppliers in the US are required to do by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

One mineral not added back into white rice is magnesium; one cup (195 g) of cooked long grain brown rice contains 84 mg of magnesium while one cup of white rice contains 19 mg.

When the bran layer is removed to make white rice, the oil in the bran is also removed. Rice bran oil may help lower LDL cholesterol.

Among other key sources of nutrition lost are small amounts of fatty acids and fiber.

You may click to see:Neutrition facts & analysis of brown rice

This leaves no room for doubt that brown is better.

Source : The Telegraph ( Kolkata, India)

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Healthy Tips

Make Your Diet Your Priority

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Everyday, without our knowledge, a faint little feeling in the stomach prompts us to involuntarily look at the clock. Then the revelation hits us – it is evening and we have not had the time to eat our lunch.

In today’s times, where a sedentary lifestyle is the rule, it’s observed that the health of people is deteriorating day by day. They have started taking themselves and their body for granted. They don’t even remember when they last had a proper meal. Eating healthy just requires a little planning. Here are some shortcus to achieve a healthy body:

Breakfast is a ‘must’ :-
Start your morning with some breakfast, be it a piece of fruit or a whole wheat bread. Put oatmeal into a thermos of hot water, and you could even let it sit overnight. In the morning, you shall have hot cooked oatmeal ready to eat. Similarly, a hard boiled egg can be eaten. This will prevent your body from going into starvation mode. Eating breakfast everyday will also help increase your metabolic rate.

Five meals a day :-
Have at least five meals a day in which three can be the main meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner, while other two meals can consist of foods which are handy and nutritious at the same time. Eating frequently prevents hunger pangs, provides consistent energy, and maintains metabolism efficiency. Grab healthy foods such as fruits that are high in fibre like apple, watermelon, muskmelon, orange, sweet lime, papaya and peaches.

Plan your dinner :-
Some people’s work demands frequenting restaurants for dinner. Always watch out for hidden fats. Creamy soups, white breads, flaky pastries and mayonnaise-based salad dressings add unnecessary fats to the food. Try consuming broths instead of creamy soups. Instead of mayonnaise dressing, use variety of condiments and flavouring agents such as lemon, vinegar, herbs, onion and garlic to improve the palatability of your salad. Remember, a gram of fat contains more than twice as many calories as a gram of protein or carbohydrate. Ask for grilled, baked, boiled or broiled food rather than fried foods.

Good quality food :
Always remember that the quality of food you eat determines your efficiency at work. Avoid refined foods like white rice and those used to make white bread and sugary breakfast cereals as most of their vitamins and minerals are stripped away. They turn into blood sugar (glucose) so fast just like sugar; they can cause a spike in our insulin level. Alternate refined flour with wholegrain flour. Substitute white sugar with honey and jaggery. Remember, all this will help us to remain healthy .

Source: The Times Of India

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Healthy Tips

The Fibre-Cholesterol Connection

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High level of cholesterol is related to the intake of processed foods, sedentary lifestyle, nutrient deficiencies and stress. Many people think that cholesterol in the diet is directly responsible for cholesterol in the blood.

So, all they have to do is to cut out high-cholesterol foods and their blood cholesterol will become normal. This is a misconception. Merely cutting down on dietary cholesterol will have an insignificant effect on blood cholesterol.

Relying on a low cholesterol diet to lower blood cholesterol probably won’t work for most people. When the body is fed with high cholesterol foods like eggs, red meat, high fat dairy products, the excess cholesterol is metabolised and excreted leaving blood levels unchanged. Further more, the liver compensates for the excess intake of cholesterol by reducing its own production so that the blood levels of cholesterol do not rise. All this happens if the person is leading a healthy lifestyle, consuming a lot of antioxidants in the form of fruits and vegetables; eating whole food in the form of whole grain cereals, whole grain pulses and avoiding processed and refined foods in addition to exercising. All these factors insulate him from mishandling dietary cholesterol.

On the other hand, if he is living a life of stress and eating the regular fat-food fare as well as a diet rich in cholesterol, namely eggs, red meat and saturated fat in animal foods, then his body metabolises dietary cholesterol differently. The liver then, does not act as a safeguard, instead it allows the excess dietary cholesterol to enter the blood stream and subsequently stores it in the blood vessels and coronary arteries. Such people get affected by cholesterol rich foods and benefit from reducing their dietary cholesterol intake. This only justifies the phrase `one man’s food is another man’s poison’.

Whatever be the reason of raising blood cholesterol, the answer is quite simple. When you increase your intake of soluble fibre, it helps bring down the blood cholesterol dramatically. A point to note here is that fibre occurs exclusively in plant food. Animal foods like chicken, fish, meat, beef, cheese, eggs, milk, have little or no fibre to boast of. Fresh, raw unpeeled fruits and vegetables are high in fibre. Cooking vegetables especially the way we do it in Indian cooking (soggy and overcooked) destroys much fibre.

Juices have little or no fibre. similarly, unrefined grains products like dalia (broken wheat), whole wheat flour, wheat puffs, brown rice, jowar and bajra flour, whole dals like channa, rajma, chowli, beans, etc. are high in fibre.

Breads and biscuits high in fibre will list `whole wheat flour’ and not just `wheat flour’, as their chief ingredient on the label. Wheat bran is one of the highest fibre foods known because its fibre content is about 50 per cent. There is no doubt that a diet rich in soluble fibre can lower blood cholesterol, blood pressure and prevent strokes as well as heart attacks.

So how much fibre should you eat? It has been seen that in most Asian countries incidence of heart disease and diabetes is low. People in these countries consume anywhere between 40-60 gms of fibre per day. An intake of 35-40 gms of fibre is recommended to prevent heart disease. To increase the fibre content of your diet and thereby reduce cholesterol levels, all you have to do is follow the table.

MUST HAVE :-

– Unpeeled fruits and vegetables
– Whole wheat bread (please note whole wheat bread is not the same as brown bread)
– Fresh fruits
– Brown rice or wild rice
– Whole grain dals like channa, rajma, black dal chowli, green mung
– Whole wheat flour
– Popped corn and puffed wheat
– Snack on high fibre biscuits like those made from millets or bran or soya bean or whole wheat flour
– Skimmed milk
– Red wine

BEWARE OF :-

– Peeled fruits and vegetables
– White bread
– Fruit juices
– Polished white rice
– Animal protein
– White flour ( maida )
– Potato chips and fried sev
– Maida biscuits, where the label reads as ‘wheat flour’ as their main ingredient
– Whole milk
– Any other form of alcohol

Source: The Times Of India

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Diabetics Can Reverse Their Atherosclerosis

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Aggressive measures to lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels below current targets can help to prevent — and potentially even reverse — hardening of the arteries in adults with type 2 diabetes. Hardening of the arteries, also known as atherosclerosis, is the number one cause of heart disease.

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A three-year study of nearly 500 participants was the first to compare two treatment targets for LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and systolic blood pressure levels in people with diabetes.

To assess the impact of treatments on the participants’ cardiovascular health, researchers used ultrasound to measure the thickness of their carotid (neck) arteries. Ultrasound was also used to measure the size and function of the left ventricle, which is the heart’s main pumping chamber. Among participants who were given aggressive treatment, carotid artery thickness measurements were significantly lower.

Aggressive treatment measures included Food and Drug Administration-approved blood pressure and cholesterol medications. Participants were also encouraged to follow lifestyle approaches — such as following a heart-healthy eating plan, being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking — to lower their blood pressure and cholesterol.
Sources:
Science Daily April 9, 2008
Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) April 9, 2008; 299[14]:1678-1689

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For Optimal Health: A Healthy Lifestyle

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Staying well hinges on a wide range of lifestyle choices that can help enhance the quality of your life, so that you feel better physically and mentally. Equally important, these habits can promote longevity. Here’s a summary of the most important actions to take.

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  • If you smoke, QUIT IMMEDIATELY. More than 350,000 premature deaths a year are attributed to smoking.
  • Eat a varied low-fat diet. Experts recommend five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day, plenty of whole grains (which are high in dietary fiber as well as vitamins and minerals), and low-fat dairy products (for bone-strengthening calcium).
  • If you drink alcohol, do so moderately. Excessive consumption (more than two drinks a day for men, one for women) can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, and other health problems.
  • Exercise regularly. Studies show that even 30 minutes of walking, swimming, playing tennis, or other forms of exercise can help lower your risk of disease and premature death.
  • Avoid becoming seriously overweight. A large weight gain in adults (22 pounds or more) is linked to increased mortality in middle age. Keep your weight in check by watching your calories and exercising.
  • Protect yourself from the sun. Too much sun damages your skin, promoting skin cancer and cataracts. Use sunscreen, avoid long exposure, wear sunglasses, and examine your skin frequently for irregularities.
  • Control stress. You can’t avoid this consequence of modern life altogether. But by exercising,doing Yoga and meditating, and pursuing other activities you enjoy, you can keep stress from becoming overwhelming.

Source:Your Guide to
Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbs