Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Practically Paleo Perspective: Rice

A commenter asked me for my opinion on rice, so here you have it.

[Updated 4/20/12:  The original version of this post illustrates some of the poor reasoning I fell into as a result of reading books and blogs by people advocating paleo diet, while ignoring the bulk of research on diet and health.  My critiques and corrections of the original appear in brackets.]

Botany and Antinutrients

Rice is the seed of a monocotyledonous plant known to botanists as Oryza sativa. 

Like other seeds, whole (brown) rice contains chemical defenses against predation, primarily present in the hull and bran of the seed.  They include phytin (phytate), trypsin inhibitor, oryzacystatin and haemagglutinin-lectin.

Phytate binds minerals including calcium, zinc and iron; it also binds with protein.  Heat (cooking) does not denature phytate.  Studies have found that subjects fed brown rice diets have poorer mineral balance when compared to subjects fed milled rice diets.  On the other hand, phytate protects against dental caries, so white rice promotes dental decay more than brown rice.

[4/20/12:   Phytate fears are not founded on good science.  Science does not support claims that dietary phytate causes harm to humans.  Humans adapt to phytate ingestion, dietary vitamin C cancels the negative effect of phytate on mineral absorption, phytate adversely affects mineral balance only if the diet is deficient in minerals, and research has shown that dietary phytate has a strong health benefits for prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease and cancer; it even inhibits the growth of malignant tumors.]

Trypsin inhibitor occurs in rice bran.  Steaming rice bran at 100 degrees C (212 F) inactivates trypsin inhibitor.  [4/20/12:  This means that boiled brown rice has no active trypsin inhibitor.] Polishing rice eliminates trypsin inhibitor.

Haemagglutinins  or lectins consist of globulins that agglutinate mammalian red blood cells and precipitate glycoconjugates or polysaccharides. Lectins bind to specific carbohydrate receptor sites on the intestinal mucosal cells and thus interfere with the absorption of nutrients across the intestinal wall.  Rice lectin agglutinates human A, B and O group erythrocytesAccording to the FAO, rice lectin sharply loses activity when heated to 100 degrees C. [4/20/12: Hence, since we boil rice at 100 degrees C before eating it, we don't have to worry about this lectin.]

Oryzacystatin is an inhibitor of protein-digesting enzymes.  Oryzacystatin remains 100% active after at least 30 minutes of boiling.

Rice also contains an allergenic protein that occurs primarily in the milled rice, not the bran, and remains stable (60%) even after boiling for 60 minutes at 100 C (212 F).

[4/20/12: Rice allergies occur in only 10% of atopic patients in Japan and less in Europeans and Americans.  Compare this to beef allergy:

"The prevalence of beef allergy is between 3% and 6.5% among children with atopic dermatitis and can be up to 20% in cow's milk allergic children. Several studies reported an incidence of 1-2% of food-induced anaphylactic reactions caused by ingestion of beef. In another study an even higher figure of 9% of anaphylactic events from foods were induced by beef."
These data appear to indicate a much greater incidence of anaphylactic events triggered by beef than by rice.]
Nutritional value

Rice has a very high carbohydrate content and low levels of micronutrients compared to vegetables or fruits.  The following table compares the levels of selected vitamins and minerals in 50-kcal portions of brown rice and a selection of vegetables and fruits.  Red numbers indicate items with the highest levels among the foods compared. Click on image to see larger version.

Notice that brown rice does not have the highest level of any of the nutrients listed.  White potatoes have twice as much riboflavin (B2), 2.5 times as much folate, vitamin C not present in rice, 10 times more potassium, more than 3 times as much iron, and 25% more calcium than brown rice.    Sweet potatoes supply carotenes (provitamin A) and vitamin C not present in brown rice, three times as much B2, 5.5 times as much folate, 9 times as much potassium, slightly more iron, and more than 3 times as much calcium.  Winter squash also makes brown rice pale in comparison.

Strawberries have 10 times as much B2, 12.5 times as much potassium, nearly 3 times as much iron, and more than 5 times as much calcium.

No matter which vegetable or fruit you compare to brown rice, you find the vegetable or fruit makes brown rice pale in comparison.

Then if you compare brown to white rice:

Brown Rice vs. White Rice

Brown Rice (1 cup)
White Rice (1 cup)
Energy (kcal)
Protein (g)
Carbohydrate (g)
Fat (g)
Fiber (g)
Thiamin (mg)
0.3 (synthetic)
Riboflavin (mg)
0.03 (synthetic)
Niacin (mg)
2.8 (synthetic)
Pyridoxine (mg)
Folacin (mcg)
109.8 (synthetic)
Calcium (mg)
2.7 (fortified)

Laying aside the synthetic fortification, brown rice supplies nearly 3 times as much pyridoxine, 10 times as much calcium, almost 6 times as much magnesium, more than 3 times as much phosphorus, more than 3 times as much potassium, and almost twice as much zinc.  Therefore, white rice doesn't hold a candle to brown rice, and brown rice doesn't hold a candle to white potatoes.

[4/20/12:  Turn this around, and judge by energy, protein, and carbohydrate delivery per unit volume, and you find that brown rice surpasses non-starchy vegetables and fruits.  We need some foods for energy and macronutrients, and some foods for micronutrients.  Brown rice is a nutrient-dense starch and energy source compared to white rice.]

White or brown, rice is basically filler with little nutritional value compared to vegetables and fruits.  If you eat rice, you crowd out more nutrient-dense sources of carbohydrate. 

[4/20/12:  Wow, what a ridiculous argument!  Both brown and white rice are much more nutrient-dense than fats like butter, lard, and olive oil, so I would have been more correct to state that fats are fillers compared to brown rice.  When I compared the micronutrient content of two equicaloric diets, one high in meat and supplying most of its energy from fat, and the other low in meat and supplying most of its energy from starches like brown rice, the starch-based diet won hands down.]


Environmentalist vegetarians like to blame livestock for global warming, but according to Wikipedia:

In many countries where rice is the main cereal crop, rice cultivation is responsible for most of the methane emissions....Methane is twenty times more effective as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
[4/20/12:  This is an example of the half-truths used to support paleo perspectives.  How about taking a look at relative contributions of rice compared to animal products?  A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition calculated the amounts of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane) emitted in the production of 22 different commonly consumed foods, in kg of CO2 equivalents per kg of final product:   Rice, 1.3;  eggs, 2.5; rapeseed oil, 3.0; chicken, 4.3; cod, 8.5; pork, 9.3; cheese, 11; beef, 30.  So the favored foods of low carb and paleo diets produce 2 to 23 times as much greenhouse gas emissions as rice.]

Further, rice fields are the principal breeding grounds for mosquitos that carry malaria.

So there you have my perspective on rice.   I do not recommend regular consumption of either brown or white rice. [Line through added on 4/20/12.]

[4/20/12:  I now highly recommend eating rice and other grains as staple foods, and I no longer recommend eating eggs, poultry, fish, pork, or beef or beef products.  Grains are far superior to meats and fats as human energy sources and for health support, and have much less deleterious effect on the environment.  Science has shown us that meat- and fat-based paleo dieting is not beneficial to human health, animal welfare, or for ecosystem preservation.]

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Paleo Strength Works For Women Too; and Paleo Kits

Kristen Onesi Liberati pulls some heavy weight, showing women their potential:

Kristen's husband Steve Liberati heads Steve's Club, a Crossfit Affiliate in Camden, New Jersey with a unique mission:

Steve's Club is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization offering young athletes (and non-athletes) of Camden, NJ world-class coaching, community and training techniques used by elite and professional athletes worldwide to help strengthen the foundation of our future.

Specifically, Steve helps at-risk kids grow into productive, positive people through Crossfit training.  I resonate with Steve's message:

 "The greatest discovery any alien outsider could make about Camden is its overriding response to failure: If it didn’t work last year, do it AGAIN this year (and if possible do it MORE). Every year they pass more laws, hire more police, build more prisons, and sentence more offenders for longer periods-all without moving one inch closer to “ending” crime. If it didn’t work last year or the year before that or the year before that or the year before that, but you can be sure we’ll try it again this year, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that it won’t work this year either. Every year they spend more money on schools, hoping to “fix” whatever’s wrong with them, and every year the schools remain stubbornly unfixed. Spending money didn’t work last year or the year before that or the year before that, but you can be sure we’ll try it again this year, knowing beyond shadow of a doubt that it won’t work this year either. Every year they try to make the criminals go away, and every year they remain with us. We couldn’t shoehorn these criminals back into the “the mainstream” last year or the year before that or the year before that or the year before that, but you can be sure we’ll try it again this year, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that it won’t work this year either. Maybe its time to TRY something DIFFERENT. Afterall, IF Camden is saved, it will not be saved by old minds with new programs but by new minds with no programs at all."
How fitting that Steve has the surname Liberati -- the liberator!

I would substitute for Camden the name of any "government" and it would remain just as true.  Try this:

After all, IF the U.S. is saved, it will not be saved by old minds with new programs but BY NEW MINDS WITH NO PROGRAMS AT ALL.

New minds realize that programs don't work because they attempt to impose order from top down.  True social order comes from the spontaneous interactions of healthy human hearts and minds, which generate community from bottom up.  The way Steve and the rest of us do it.

The very highest [ruler] is barely known by men.
Then comes that which they know and love,
Then that which is feared.
Then that which is despised.

He who does not trust enough will not be trusted.

When actions are performed without unnecessary speech,
People say, "We did it [ourselves]!"

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 17.

Politicians act as if they have expertise in all aspects of human behavior, economics, health care, nutrition, science, automotive manufacturing, insurance....on and on; they believe and want us to believe that they have qualifications to tell everyone how to do everything from birth to death.  But as Steve points out, their "programs" rarely if ever address root causes, and their abundant failures demonstrate that they don't have a clue how things or people work.  In fact if you trace the loop you will find that their "programs" create the problems, not solve them.

The more laws and restrictions there are,
The poorer people become.
The sharper men's weapons,
The more trouble in the land.
The more ingenious and clever men are,
The more strange things happen.
The more rules and regulations,
The more thieves and robbers.

Therefore the sage says:
I take no action and people are reformed.
I enjoy peace and people become honest.
I do nothing and people become rich.
I have no desires and people return to the good and simple life.

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 57

Obviously few if any politicians are sages, most are goons.  I would call them clever--like a cleaver, good at splitting things apart, as in divide and conquer--but not intelligent or even less, wise.

Take the red pill, and you see their game:  They keep stealing more and more of our time and productivity from us (via taxes),  leaving us less and less capable of caring for our families, friends, and communities on our own.  Even under these circumstances we do our best to help one another, but when half your income goes to the goons with the biggest guns ("government"), you have to keep almost every thing you make for your self and don't have much extra available to help your extended family, friends, or community.  Then the goons say "Look at how evil you masses are, you guys don't care for your own, you need our Programs."  So then they raise taxes and tyranny up another notch with the claim that this will "help" the people.  Taoists saw through the game thousands of years ago:

Why are the people starving?
Because the rulers eat up the money in taxes.
Therefore the people are starving.

Why are the people rebellious?
Because the rulers interfere to much.
Therefore they are rebellious.

Why do the people think so little of death?
Because the rulers demand to much of life.
Therefore the people take death lightly.

Having little to live on, one knows better than to value life too much.

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 75.

Politicians and other misanthropists would have us believe that without their top-down interference in our lives no one would take care of anyone else, that people like Steve don't exist.  They want you to believe that if they didn't "control" your life with their "programs" we would live in chaos, going at each other's throats with machetes.  I can't think of anything more bullshit than this, and I believe that Steve and you also, my dear reader, prove it.  Just look at your life.  Have you not done your best to do more good than harm?  Do you not help the helpless when you can?  Do you not care for children and do your best to support the youth and care for the elders?

Why?  Humans evolved as cooperative creatures engaged in  cooperative hunting and gathering, sharing food, mutual aid in times of need, and mutual protection from predators. Natural selection favored cooperation and devotion to family and friends, and especially the youth and elders who had experience.  Tribes full of people who cooperated and loved children and taught them well certainly had more descendants than tribes full of miscreants who couldn't care less about their children.  Cooperative people not only survived, they thrived, and jerks either had no mates, rightfully got the death penalty directly, or got expelled from the tribe to deal with the wild cats on their own (good riddance and good luck!).

Don't let the misanthropes, the control freaks, the goons and thugs, define you in their own image, as a beast. Stand up and claim your humanity.   You would put their tax and tyranny schemes to shame by naturally living out paleolithic "ethics," if you just let your human nature free and put your intelligence and love into helping your family, friends, and community.

Steve supports the club in part by producing Paleokits:

I bet you'll support them when you see their purpose, because I feel pretty confident you wouldn't read this blog if you didn't have a compassion ten times larger than a politician's cleverness.