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The role of grains, processed & unprocessed?


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For a while now I have reduced my intake of grains like bread, pasta, rice etc. It seems preferable to substitute something else with superior nutritional-to-calorie ratio, eg. for me, a good pasta sauce with a base of steamed leafy greens is equally enjoyable to a base of actual pasta. Similarly for sandwiches, or curries with a base of rice etc.


What nutritional role do you see for various grains, if any?

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I feed my children lots of organic whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce, because it's a nice plant based dish I can actually get in them - and it gives them the calories they need.  Sprouted grain bread seems to be a nutritionally dense grain, that I'll eat now and again.  


I have to admit that I feel better when I consume less grains (wheat specifically), and instead focus on sweet potatoes, beans, lentils, and a variety of rices as my starch sources.  It's quite easy to construct a nutritionally dense diet, low in calories, without the use of grains.


Now when talking about massive populations, I see a huge roll for the use of whole wheat grains.  Imagine if an entire nation switched from white bread to brown, from white rice to brown, from white pasta to brown, and so on.  On that kind of scale grains have a tremendous roll and would improve the health of a nation - even if it's not quite to the ridiculously high standard most CR members hold themselves too.  


One reason I don't entirely eliminate grains, is that I don't want to develop an intolerance/insensitivity to them. I'm speculating that it's possible for that to happen, but don't have any evidence to support it.  My experience with dairy is that I am completely intolerant to it now, after having abstained for over 5 years.  This past easter I was at a family gathering and ate a vegetable dish that had just a minutia of cheese on it, and boy did I ever pay a price for it! 

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I eat a mix of various starches including several grains - whole barley, whole oat groats, long-grain rice, and corn.


My other high-starch foods include legumes (chickpeas, black beans, lentils) and sweet potatoes.


I goes without saying that I rarely listen to Saul. In fact, whatever Saul says, I usually find myself doing the opposite.



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I too eat a fair bit of whole grains.  I make some whole wheat bread and like to eat the grain berries.  Things like rye, barley and oat berries seem to have better nutrition to me than the rice, which has more manganese than I like.  I also eat a fair bit of potatoes, mainly russet potatoes.  They are cheaper and have less sugars than sweet potatoes and has relatively more vitamin C versus A, the latter of which I need no more of.  Air-popped popcorn is a filler too.  Eat potatoes with the skin, of course.

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Al and Saul,


You guys are selling rice short. I get the exotic kinds like black and red rice at my local asian market, intuiting that their dark colors must make them packed with more beneficial micronutrients than brown or (certainly) white rice. It turns out to be true, they have a lot of beneficial phytochemicals:


“Just a spoonful of black rice bran contains more health promoting anthocyanin antioxidants than are found in a spoonful of blueberries, but with less sugar and more fiber and vitamin E antioxidants,” said Zhimin Xu, Associate Professor at the Department of Food Science at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center in Baton Rouge, La., who reported on the research. “If berries are used to boost health, why not black rice and black rice bran? Especially, black rice bran would be a unique and economical material to increase consumption of health promoting antioxidants.” Like fruits, “black rice” is rich in anthocyanin antioxidants, substances that show promise for fighting heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.
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Black rice keeps looking better. Here is an article that came across my radar today singing its praises:


According to the American Chemical Society, a spoonful of black rice bran contains more anthocyanins, more fiber and more vitamin E than a spoonful of blueberries.

Yes, rice is generally considered a healthy grain, but not all rice is created equal. Black rice, often known as forbidden rice, has more protein and fiber than any other rice variety with 8.5 grams of protein and 4.9 grams of fiber per 100 grams. Black rice is also a good source of iron, B vitamins and magnesium. It’s also lower on the glycemic index than white or brown, making it a smart choice for those conscious about their blood sugar. With a low GI rating of 42.3, black rice easily beats out brown and white, which are 50 and 89 respectively.


Black, purple and red rice offer significantly higher antioxidant counts than brown or white varieties. The pigments in these grains have been shown to protect against chronic diseases, perhaps due to phytochemicals reducing inflammation and combating free radicals in the body. Black rice bran may also improve the health of gut flora.


I stocked up on black rice today during my monthly trip to the Asian market to pick up durian, natto, jackfruit and other exotic foods. I paid $1.73/lb. If you're willing to buy 10 lbs, it's available on Amazon for $3.84/lb, or about $7/lb for lesser quantities.



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For me, no bread, no pasta, no dairy, no meat, no processed... But I've no prob eating black ("wild rice" WTF that means) and some other grains -- red rice, purple barley, groats, oatmeal, oat & wheat germ, rye, cous cous... And I love purple yams, sweet potatoes -- I steam them then drizzle with amazing olive oil, put on some spices, and love the chewing experience. And I love quinoa but don't like hearing some of the stuff going on with quinoa farmers in Bolivia...


Starch is good, right? Legumes like quinoa and all those kidney, black, pinto... I tend to buy Trader Joes CANNED beans sans added salt, which I realize ain't hip here.... But dry beans just take too durn long. Except lentils, which I eat like crazy starving person.


And Dean inspired me to eat natto, but I stopped because I don't like damned styrofoam cartons, so I gave up on this rich vitamin k2 source :-(

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It appears you may be a bit confused:

But I've no prob eating black ("wild rice" WTF that means) ...


Black rice and so-called "wild" rice are not the same. Wild rice is not a rice at all, but part of the grass family. See here for a discussion of the differences.
TL;DR - True "black" rice that you get at Asian markets appears more healthy than so-called wild rice. 

Except lentils, which I eat like crazy starving person.


For the record, I don't recommend or endorse eating crazy starving people. :-)

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Of course this study [1] was just in fruit flies, but nonetheless:


Results demonstrated that [black Rice Extract] could prolong the mean lifespan of fruit flies by 14%,





[1] Food Funct. 2012 Dec;3(12):1271-9. doi: 10.1039/c2fo30135k.

Black rice extract extends the lifespan of fruit flies.
Zuo Y(1), Peng C, Liang Y, Ma KY, Yu H, Edwin Chan HY, Chen ZY.
Author information: 
(1)Food and Nutritional Sciences Programme, School of Life Sciences, The Chinese 
University of Hong Kong, Shatin, N.T., Hong Kong, China.
Black rice is rich in anthocyanin antioxidants. The present study investigated
the lifespan-prolonging activity of black rice extracts (BREs) and its effect on 
gene expressions of CuZnSOD (SOD1), MnSOD (SOD2), catalase (CAT), methuselah
(Mth) and Rpn11 involved in the antioxidant system and ageing of fruit flies. The
OR wild type fly was maintained on a control diet or two experimental diets
containing 10 mg ml(-1) BRE (BRE10) or 30 mg ml(-1) BRE (BRE30). Results
demonstrated that BRE30 could prolong the mean lifespan of fruit flies by 14%,
accompanied with up-regulation of mRNA SOD1, SOD2, CAT and Rpn11, and with
down-regulation of Mth. It was also found that BRE30 could attenuate the
paraquat-induced neurodegeneration in OR wild type flies accompanied by
up-regulation of SOD1, SOD2, CAT and Rpn11. In addition, BRE30 supplementation
increased the survival time of OR wild type flies and Alzheimer transgenic flies 
Aβ42 33769 with chronic exposure to paraquat. It was concluded that BREs could
extend the lifespan of fruit flies, most likely by regulating the genes of SOD1, 
SOD2, CAT, Mth and Rpn11 at the transcriptional level.
PMID: 22930061
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Thank you Dean, for this intriguing find. I simply stayed away from rice on principle, figuring the high methionine content plus the generally poor calorie/nutrient ratio was a no-no for a CRON diet. However, black rice flew under the radar for me, and your enthusiasm is contagious. 


That said, looking over the links you so kindly provided, I notice that the blueberry-anthocyanin comparison is not to black rice per se, but to black rice bran - a very, very, very, different proposition indeed. It's the same as with the bran of any number of grains (f.ex. oats) - I may consider adding bran to my diet on account of a favorable calorie/micronutrient ratio, but that proposition changes dramatically if you now include the whole grain, where compared to the bran just by itself, the calorie/micronutrient ratio falls off the cliff. If I could buy black rice bran by itself, this might be a worthy candidate addition for my diet. But with the whole black rice, my enthusiasm collapses. I'm not saying "under no circumstances! Poison!", but it opens up a whole lot of questions. For example, I see black rice at my local Sprouts (no, not "wild rice"), at a not unreasonable $4/lb (not super cheap, but not bloodcurdling) - and to my eye, while it certainly has a black color, I can't quite tell how much bran remains on those grains - I'm sure the amount is somewhat variable. So that right there my question is: how much bran is there on that grain, and subsequently what is the real anthocyanin/calorie ratio - I suspect that when it comes to black rice, rather than black rice bran, the advantage reverts to blueberries per calories consumed. Note too, that in that paper you cited (although if I see "flies", "worms", "yeast" and the like in a paper, I immediately stop reading - zero actionable info for a human CRONie, IMHO) they are talking about an "extract" - again, neatly bypassing the whole rice grain issue - presumably an "extract" is a concentrated essence of the bioactive molecules - not super inspiring considering that it bears no resemblance to how you would take in those molecules in the diet of black rice, all swabbed in tons of calories etc.


Furthermore to the whole "bran" issue, of any grain - bran incorporates fatty acids. This means it can go rancid, with unknown - though probably deleterious - consequences on the health benefits. Therefore, you must make sure the bran (and the rice associated with it, if that's how it comes) is not old and has been kept in reasonable conditions. That is hard to discern when you're buying it online. You don't know what you're buying, unless you have trustworthy information. Presumably it's better when you're buying it from bins in a supermarket, because at least you can surmise that the rice has not been sitting in the store for ages, as bins are regularly filled up; of course you still don't know how long and under what conditions it's been kept in the warehouse before it got to the store, and indeed all along the chain from the fields.


There are additional issues - as can be expected, there are all sorts of cultivars of black rice, with varying chemical profiles - certainly some healthier(?) than others. I did in fact notice that the black rice sold at my local Sprouts looks dramatically different from the one they sell at the local ethnic food store (which comes in bags, and the label indicates Thailand as origin). So what are you buying and how do you know? Here is an interesting look at some such differences - note the part I bolded - the variability depending on cultivar is insanely huge:




J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Jul 14;58(13):7580-7. doi: 10.1021/jf1007665.

Phenolic profiles and antioxidant activity of black rice bran of different commercially available varieties.


Increased consumption of whole grains has been associated with reduced risk of developing major chronic diseases. These health benefits have been attributed in part to their unique phytochemicals. Previous studies on black rice mainly focused on anthocyanins. Little is known about the phytochemical profiles and antioxidant activities of different black rice varieties. The objective of this study was to determine the phytochemical profiles and antioxidant activity of rice bran samples from 12 diverse varieties of black rice. The free, bound, and total phenolic contents of black rice bran samples ranged from 2086 to 7043, from 221.2 to 382.7, and from 2365 to 7367 mg of gallic acid equiv/100 g of dry weight (DW), respectively. The percentage contribution of free phenolics to the total ranged from 88.2 to 95.6%. The average values of free, bound, and total phenolic contents of black rice bran were 8, 1.5, and 6 times higher than those of white rice bran, respectively (p < 0.05). The free, bound, and total flavonoid contents of black rice bran samples ranged from 3462 to 12061, from 126.7 to 386.9, and from 3596 to 12448 mg of catechin equiv/100 g of DW, respectively. The percentage contribution of free flavonoids to the total ranged from 96.3 to 97.6%. The average values of free, bound, and total flavonoid contents of black rice bran were 7.4, 1.9, and 6.7 times higher than those of white rice bran, respectively (p < 0.05). The free, bound, and total anthocyanin contents of black rice bran samples ranged from 1227 to 5096, from 4.89 to 8.23, and from 1231 to 5101 mg of cyanidin-3-glucoside equiv/100 g of DW, respectively. The percentage contribution of free anthocyanins to the total ranged from 99.5 to 99.9%. Cyanidin-3-glucoside, cyanidin-3-rutinoside, and peonidin-3-glucoside were detected in black rice bran samples and ranged from 736.6 to 2557, from 22.70 to 96.62, and from 100.7 to 534.2 mg/100 g of DW, respectively. The free, bound, and total antioxidant activities of black rice bran samples ranged from 476.9 to 180, from 47.91 to 79.48, and from 537.5 to 1876 mumol of Trolox equiv/g of DW, respectively. The percentage contribution of free antioxidant activity to the total ranged from 88.7 to 96.0%. The average values of free, bound, and total antioxidant activity of black rice bran were more than 8, 1.5, and 6 times higher than those of white rice bran, respectively (p < 0.05). The total antioxidant activity of black rice bran was correlated to the content of total phenolics, total flavonoids, and total anthocyanins and also was significantly correlated to the contents of cyanidin-3-glucoside, cyanidin-3-rutinoside, and peonidin-3-glucoside. These results indicate that there are significant differences in phytochemical content and antioxidant activity among the different black rice varieties. [bold - TomBAvoider] Black rice bran has higher content of phenolics, flavonoids, and anthocyanins and has higher antioxidant activity when compared to white rice bran. Interestingly, the phenolics, flavonoids, and anthocyanins of black rice bran are mainly present in free form. Knowing the phytochemical profile and antioxidant activity of black rice bran gives insights to its potential application to promote health.


PMID: 20521821


To sum up - is there a source of fresh black rice bran one can purchase with reliable provenance and handling history? If yes, that's a very exciting proposition. If no, then things become mighty murky, mighty fast. And as the paper I cited above shows, there is a gigantic difference is biochemical makeup between the cultivars of black rice - possibly resulting in drastically different health impact. Think about the lowest gack level of olive oil compared to carefully selected EVOO. It seems entirely possible that it's just as true for different black rice varieties. You might be buying gack, or something very valuable. No way to tell, unless you have a good black rice culture established the way we have with olive oil, where people test these things in labs. I wouldn't dream of buying random olive oil (in fact, I'm extremely careful and only buy from one source that tests their EVOOs extensively). Why should I buy black rice with any less consideration, especially given irrefutable evidence that there are vast differences between varietals? 


Anyhow, back to black rice bran - a quick search shows "purple rice bran" (not black) for purchase here:




And a gaggle of various products some only tangentially related on alibaba:




Now, I have no idea about the integrity of the products in those links, and alibaba as a source of food items freaks me out (as does any food sourced in China!), but it's a wild and wooly world out there - a casual google search turns up no really established trustworthy sources of black rice bran.


In short: questions, questions, questions. At first I practically fainted with gratitude for the amazing black rice discovery, but after looking into it, I've slowly backed off, casting a wary eye. But I certainly don't want to put off anyone from what might be potentially a very valuable food: Bon Appetit!

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Thanks for digging into black rice! Great information. You are of course correct that the bran (or generally, an extract or distilled form of a food) will likely have more phytochemicals than the germ, or than the whole rice grain, on a per-calorie basis. But as you point out, the rice bran is more likely to be rancid than the whole rice grain. And you are certainly right in saying the phytochemical content varies from one cultivar to the next. But variations in healthfulness due to differences in cultivar, processing, and freshness is true of virtually all foods, not just black rice. In fact, according to [1] the reigning king of anthocyanins, blueberries, appears to vary much more dramatically by cultivar in their anthocyanin content than black rice. Here is the graph of anthocyanin content of various blueberry cultivars from [1]:




Your data showed anthocyanin content in black rice (bran) varied by a factor of 2-4 between cultivars. Here was see total anthocyanin content varied by more than an order of magnitude between the blueberry cultivars with the highest and lowest amount of anthocyanins. Does that mean we shouldn't bother eating blueberries if we don't know their pedigree?


Of course not. You buy those blueberries that are available to you, and I personally I'm grateful to live in a society where blueberries are available year-round if one is willing to go with the frozen variety. 


Variability from one food to the next, and from one form or cultivar of the same food to another, is exactly why I'm such a strong advocate for dietary diversity. By eating a very wide variety of (plant) foods, each in relatively small amounts but as unprocessed and fresh as possible, you avoid relying on any one food as being a "nutritional superstar", and you minimize your exposure to potential detrimental components of the food too, such as pesticides, chemical contaminants, heavy metals, etc. So my solution is to eat both blueberries and black rice to make sure I'm getting a healthy dose of anthocyanins, and relatively little of the bad stuff that could potentially be high in one or the other.


On the topic of (black) rice and freshness, one thing that attracted to me to the black rice in my Asian market was the packaging. Rather than being left out in a bin, the black rice I purchased is in thick, vacuum-sealed bag:





And coming from a brand by the name "Wise Wife", how could you imagine anything less than top quality?





[1] Plants 2013, 2(1), 57-71; doi:10.3390/plants2010057

Antioxidant Activities and Anti-Cancer Cell Proliferation Properties of Natsuhaze (Vaccinium oldhamii Miq.), Shashanbo (V. bracteatum Thunb.) and Blueberry Cultivars
Hirotoshi Tsuda 1, Hisato Kunitake 2,*, Ryoko Kawasaki-Takaki 2,†, Kazuo Nishiyama 2, Masao Yamasaki 2, Haruki Komatsu 3 and Chizuko Yukizaki 4
Abstract: Antioxidants are abundant in blueberries, and while there are many studies concerning the bioactive compound of fruit, it is only recently that the wild Vaccinium species has attracted attention for their diverse and abundant chemical components. The aim of this study was to investigate the bioactive compounds of blueberry cultivars and wild species found in Japan. Among the five extracts of the Vaccinium species, Natsuhaze (Vaccinium oldhamii Miq.) was found to be the most effective at inhibiting the growth of HL-60 human leukemia cells in vitro. Although all ethanol extracts showed a growth inhibitory effect on HL-60 cells, the degree of the effects differed among the species. The extract of Natsuhaze induced apoptotic bodies and nucleosomal DNA fragmentation in the HL-60 cells. Of the extracts tested, that of Natsuhaze contained the largest amount of total polyphenols and showed the greatest antioxidant activity, but the anthocyanin content of Natsuhaze was similar to that of rabbiteye blueberry (V. virgatum Ait.). The results showed that total polyphenols contributed to the high antioxidant activity and growth inhibitory effect on HL-60 human leukemia cells of Natsuhaze extract.
Keywords: anthocyanin; fruit; HL-60 human leukemia cells; polyphenol; Vaccinium corymbosum; V. virgatum
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Thank you, Dean, those are good points. But to your observation, yes, I do in fact try my best to carefully select my food and F&V with phytochemicals in view. There are naturally practical considerations - there is no way obviously, for me to actually test what I buy, so I have resort to guesses and rules of thumb. For example, there are different blueberry cultivars at my local Trader Joe's in the frozen section. There are the largish ones which are pale and white/greenish on the inside, and there are the small and very dark ones which are labeled "wild". In a series of assumptions, I am guessing that the smaller darker "wild" blueberries have more phytochemicals - just a guess of course. Same with all F&V - more intense colors, are one criterion. Also for those where the skin/rind is consumed, often the bennies reside more in the skin, and so I select smaller ones, so that the ratio of rind to core is more favorable (pure geometry!). Another trick, is to pick F&V where I can see signs of a virus infection - for example, that happens with apples, where it's clearly visible in the skin as a sort of lesion. I have read that in such situations, the fruits often respond to the stress of such an attack with chemical defenses, and those chemicals are the ones which have health bennies for us, humans (a side benefit is that other shoppers usually avoid such "blemished" fruit, leaving more for me  :ph34r:). Again, I can't know or prove that any of those rules of thumb are valid or make an appreciable difference, but I am most certainly acutely aware of the issue of cultivar differences. Where I can ascertain such with laboratory precision, I certainly do so (as I do in the case of EVOO selection).


I do like the "Wise Wife", hah, though I wonder if they have any sort of "expiration" date on those packages - the Thailand packages of black rice at my Jons supermarket do have them, and not so far into the future (November 2016)... of course I have no idea when they were packaged, as I never paid attention to black rice before. In general, polished grain lasts longer, as without the more fatty bran and other grain portions they are not as prone to growing rancid. The flip side is that the polished ones are unfortunately the least interesting from a calorie/micronutrient point of view. 

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All good points Tom.


I too do the best I can to maximize phytonutrients when selecting fruits and veggies using very similar rules of thumb. The rule "the darker the color the better" is what attracted me to the black rice in the first place.


The "Wise Wife" black rice I purchased does have an "Best By" date on it - 12/31/2017. The Asian market I frequent is quite popular, so stock turnover is high. I take it to be a good sign that it has a date so far in the future, and suspect it is a result of its oxygen-free packaging, which greatly extends the shelf-life of rice.



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Thanks, TomB, for suggesting blemished apples, that's something I've not made habit, a good tip, and for solid sounding reasons you cited. Makes sense to me: plants fight. Sometimes I see the superficial skins of organic fruit appear more blemished than the skins of conventional -- adding to your reasoning.


I've eaten the wild rice-like (apparently Zizania palustris) grain, and mixed it with wild blueberries, oh yes do try, because for what it's worth the combo is delicious. Atop zinzania mania I drizzle olive oil and black pepper, and oh boy am I happy. I've eaten zinzania with some cool Ojibwa way high up in Manitoba, and they consider the grass sacred. I thought it was just rice, though, so clearly I ain't so sacred...

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Spices, a whole 'nother ball of wax. Re: black pepper - piperine is a tricky one. I know MR is not enthusiastic about it, and generally avoids black pepper (are the archives scheduled to go up, btw.?). But red chili peppers could be a good substitution, what with capsaicin being rather CR friendly and brown fat activating.

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Well then maybe I'm screwed because I eat loads of black pepper. I eat it because I like it and thought it was okay-healthy. The problem is as soon as some genius-collection publishes an expensive, important mouse study concluding this and that ain't no good, along comes another mouse study publishing whoops, uh, sorry, that first one was not replicated, and it turns out the shit is actually awesome.


What research is trustable? Today black pepper sucks; tomorrow black pepper is amazing.

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Well then maybe I'm screwed because I eat loads of black pepper. I eat it because I like it and thought it was okay-healthy. The problem is as soon as some genius-collection publishes an expensive, important mouse study concluding this and that ain't no good, along comes another mouse study publishing whoops, uh, sorry, that first one was not replicated, and it turns out the shit is actually awesome.

What research is trustable? Today black pepper sucks; tomorrow black pepper is amazing.


Black pepper does seem to do a number on the liver's ability to detoxify. That's why eating black pepper with other spices (like turmeric) potentiates their impact - they remain in circulation a lot longer via black pepper's effect on liver detoxification.


As I said, my solution to the dietary conundrum over what exactly is healthy and what isn't is to eat lots of different things in small quantities. Case in point, here is a list of the spices I mix together and sprinkle on everything (well, everything but fruit):




I also eat a small amount of a mixture of fresh chopped garlic, ginger root, tumeric root, horseradish root and galanga root at every meal. 



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Right. No one is immune to that effect, no matter how careful. Once upon a time MR advocated somewhat high protein diets based on some rat results (Albatross paper). He has since strongly reversed - as I understand - and even deprecated some of those earlier rat studies. All we can do is guess as best we can, until there is as much clarity in medicine/biology as there is (comparatively) in physical sciences.


I know I constantly tweak my diet, and have been for close to 20 years now. Seeing all the contradictory research, and especially the poor methodology with a huge, huge number of studies, I have grown much more relaxed about it all - I always ask myself (1) does this new study contain actionable information (for me) (2) is it relevant to humans (3) what is the quality of the study. Thus, in general, I simply ignore any study done in vitro, any study that has one-celled organisms, yeasts, worms, flies etc. - if I read it, it's just out of curiosity, but has no impact on my changing any aspect of my life as a reaction to it. I also pretty much ignore "popular press" accounts of studies, having seen how routinely they distort the studies on which they report. And then we get to the studies themselves - often of very questionable design. I often wish they'd release raw data in all such studies, as has been advocated by the FDA for studies involving drugs, because you simply cannot trust their conclusions and inferences (not due to ill-will most of the time, but due to things being debatable, and not obvious).


Finally, I admit, many results I simply ignore, if they don't fit within what I already do - if f.ex. I came across a study that deprecated oranges vs apples and bananas in that it made it look as if oranges were actually detrimental to your health while apples were strongly positive. Now, in my quotidian F portion of F&V, I have what I call the "citrus platter": 1/3 of a red grapefruit, 1/3 blood orange, 1/3 rotating mandarin/tangerine (different cultivars), a bit of Satsuma rind - all amounts to about 60 calories. I also eat a small apple, berries (frozen, unless in season) + a small portion of whatever is either in season or on sale or just very nice that day (1/2 banana, or a plum etc.). So, as a result of that study, do I throw out the orange? No. I might slightly adjust the proportions in that I'll maybe cut down from 1/3 orange to 1/4, and proportionately enlarge the apple for caloric equivalence, but that's about it - small tweak. I can react with small tweaks that still fit within my overall diet. In other words, if a study looks solid and strong and well-designed, I might react to by slightly tweaking my diet because it fits within it overall (another example: switch from pea protein to a different plant protein with a better amino-acid profile). But if some study suddenly claims something wild that would utterly upend my diet altogether, I would demand a LOT of proof before I'd upend my diet. Big claims demand big proof. One study is seldom "big proof", especially if it runs in the teeth of tons of previous studies. 


If we react to every dodgy study, we'd be whiplashed back and forth on a daily basis. So it's best to carefully look and move slowly unless there's conclusive and very convincing evidence. My diet and lifestyle evolved over years of very careful consideration - it is now like a big battleship that is not liable to turn on a dime too quickly - unless there's proof that a torpedo is headed my way. Too many false alarms for me to jump at shadows.

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  • 2 weeks later...



It looks like Dr. Greger is one step behind me in extolling the virtues of black rice, per today's video Entitled Brown, Black, Purple and Red Unlike White on Rice (embedded below).


He starts by talking about the benefits of brown rice over white. One interesting tidbit he mentions from [1] - eating brown rice one or more times per week was associated with 40% decreased risk of colorectal cancer in the Adventist health study. The other three foods that also decreased CRC risk were legumes (>3 / wk) → 33% reduced risk, cooked green vegetables (>1 / day) → 24% risk, and dried fruit (>3/wk) → 24% risk.


He says naturally pigmented rice (black, red, purple) may be even healthier than brown rice. While we don't have clinical trials showing a benefit of these colorful rices over brown, he always eats them instead of brown, since they have everything brown rice has, plus lots of phytochemicals known from other studies (e.g. of blueberries) to be beneficial.






[1] Nutr Cancer. 2011;63(4):565-72. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2011.551988.

Foods and food groups associated with the incidence of colorectal polyps: the
Adventist Health Study.
Tantamango YM(1), Knutsen SF, Beeson WL, Fraser G, Sabate J.
Author information: 
(1)Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Loma
Linda University, Loma Linda, California 92350, USA. ytantamango@hotmail.com
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a leading cause of cancer death in the United States. 
The majority of CRC arise in adenomatous polyps and 25-35% of colon adenoma risk 
could be avoidable by modifying diet and lifestyle habits. We assessed the
association between diet and the risk of self-reported physician-diagnosed
colorectal polyps among 2,818 subjects who had undergone colonoscopy. Subjects
participated in 2 cohort studies: the AHS-1 in 1976 and the AHS-2 from 2002-2005.
Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to estimate the period risk of
incident cases of polyps; 441 cases of colorectal polyps were identified.
Multivariate analysis adjusted by age, sex, body mass index, and education showed
a protective association with higher frequency of consumption of cooked green
vegetables (OR 1 time/d vs. <5/wk = 0.76, 95% CI = 0.59-0.97) and dried fruit (OR
3+ times/wk vs. <1 time/wk = 0.76, 95%CI = 0.58-0.99). Consumption of legumes at 
least 3 times/wk reduced the risk by 33% after adjusting for meat intake.
Consumption of brown rice at least 1 time/wk reduced the risk by 40%. These
associations showed a dose-response effect. High frequency of consumption of
cooked green vegetables, dried fruit, legumes, and brown rice was associated with
a decreased risk of colorectal polyps.
PMCID: PMC3427008
PMID: 21547850
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Dean has convinced me of the merits of black rice, so I've cautiously incorporated it into my diet - at this point a small amount once a week. I bought a rice cooker (never had one, since I don't consume grains), and now I'm wondering if I should re-evaluate grains in general - buckwheat, oats, barley - though I cannot foresee taking in more than very modest quantities, as it's not easy to re-apportion the relatively hefty amount of calories by correspondingly cutting back elsewhere... the swap would have to be a net gain nutritionally. Not easy.


That said, I can report that the black rice has a very rich and interesting flavor. Plus makes it look like I've been eating ink. Pro tip: careful not to get any on your clothes, or you'll have a devil of a time getting it out... really very much like blueberries in that respect. Thanks again, Dean for bringing this to our attention!

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Thanks for the tip on the black rice.  I found quite a few choices from my nearest Asian grocer:


These were the ones I bought.  Both came in very thick, vacuum sealed bags.

The one on the left is obviously much "blacker" which I assume probably means more anthocyanins, but both produce dark purple water run off when cooking.  The one on the left has a strange smell after cooking, reminds me a little of natto actually (but not nearly as strong of a smell)!  Have you noticed this at all?  The other one did not have that smell.  Neither has a particularly strong flavor, I would say mildly "nutty".   I will add this to my repertoire.


p.s.  Now thanks to this thread, I have to buy some "home bell blueberry plants" (but I can't find a cross pollinator for zone 6!)

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