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Why does everyone avoid white rice?

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Hi guys,

I just had an urge to share my thoughts on white rice. I've heard from everyone and everywhere of North America that refined carbs (such as white bread, white rice, etc.) is bad for you. Well, because I come from a Chinese family, we have rice with almost every meal. Even breakfast is usually a type of porridge (congee) of rice boiled with many times its volume of water. However, we just cannot eat brown rice or another type of naturally enriched whole-grain rice, because it's not of our preference.

Since learning about health and nutrition (and doing some serious self-research), I've argued with my mother (previously a gynecologist in China) about this.

XD I'd like to pose our side of this "white rice=bad" arguement to CC. Firstly, we all know that China/Japan/other countries of Asia have the highest consumption of rice in the world. I don't know what percentage of this is white rice, but my parents are always saying "pshh EVERYONE eats white rice!" Both of them grew up in some of the poorest parts of China, from farmers. And with 5+ siblings each, they grew up from infantry drinking ONLY the smoothest "broth" from boiled water and white rice. And on most days of their life until university, all they ate was white rice with some preserved vegetables, and the weekly roast eel. But my parents are two of the healthiest people I know.

If white rice is just empty calories, then, added with the fact that in their childhood/adolescence, they worked probably several times as hard as the children of today, how can people be so afraid of consuming white rice?

XD And, my dad, being a traditional acupuncturist doctor, thinks the "western" food guide (like Canada Food Guide or Food Pyramid) doesn't cover all there is to nutrition. His opinion is that people should take time to understand the traditional Chinese yingyang method of thinking and eating.

If you are interested in finding out about it (I know I was), just wiki "Traditional Chinese Medicine". The concepts revolve around "warm", "cold", and neutral foods. The idea is that no WHOLE food (aka 100% unprocessed food) is directly bad for the body. It's just that some foods are too "warm" for a naturally "cold" person, therefore causing imbalances in their body. This can partially explain why some people claim works well for them and they really enjoy eating it, while others have completely different preferences. Being aware of how "hot" or "cold" you are, plus portion and calorie control, is the most effective way of maintaining one's health (says my dad).

>_< Sorry if it seems like I'm making no sense in this ranting, and please understand that I'm not arguing that white rice is healthier than brown or anything. I still think it CAN be eaten in moderation and enjoyed free-of-guilt occasionally. I simply want to share this reasonable explanation with the CC community.

 Any thoughts? ^^;;

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I found the book. It's Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions & Modern Nutrition by Paul Pitchford. Apparently there is a new version out dated 2002. I must have had the older one, I bought it at Half Priced Books a few years ago.

I might go buy the new one. It did have some very good nutritional information and some important health ideas.

Please keep in mind if you explore this book it does come from a radical viewpoint that everything the author says is 100% correct and our society has it all wrong. Not that I don't think our society has it wrong in some aspects. I'm sure most people would be healthier if they followed this book as opposed to a lot of others.

pgeorgian, I'm not concerned with the timeframe of which they originated. I speak from personal experience - not just mine, but also from several family members, in multiple instances as well. Why a lot of Eastern medicine does work is because plants do contain chemicals (and can be extracted, purified, and condensed into pill form) that interact with our body. It's not that there is no basis.

But like I said, a lot of times, I'd say the percentages of getting better v. not, compared to Western medicine, are lower, and vary drastically depending on what method you start straying into.

People diagnosed with cancer should not be led to believe that taking a bunch of herbs will heal them. Maybe Eastern medicine can help regulate you, relieve a headache even, but it's far from a miracle science. Unfortunately, a lot of people perpetuate misinformation under the guise of Eastern medicine.

Mar 03 2008 19:26
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Everything in moderation.

I used to eat massive amounts of white rice when I was younger and noticed no ill effects.  It was my basic starch with everything - sushi, mongolian buffet, stir fries of all kinds; covered with peanut sauce, teriyaki, or sriracha hot sauce - you name it.  I've had rice cookers for 30 years, about as long as you've been able to buy them in the USA. My original National cooker from Uwajimaya still works, and I have a real appetite for glutinous sticky rice.  But a year ago I tested very high on blood glucose.  I was older and obese, and couldn't handle carbs the way I did when I younger and fitter.  White rice and dry breakfast cereal were the first things I took out of my diet, and my blood glucose was back to normal in a couple of weeks.

I've lost weight and have gone back to eating both of these foods, in moderate portions, without ill effects.  I've formed an opinion that high GI foods (such as white rice and potatoes) can be blended with low GI foods (such as meat or vegetables) to produce a lowered GI effect.  But I'm certain that if I ate rice the way I did when I was 35 I would be right back in trouble again. 

I heard a similar story from an older Japanese businessman several years ago: Rice is for kids, but when you're an adult you have to watch it.  I didn't believe him until I saw what it did to me.

One last thing, regarding "empty" calories.  White rice definitely falls into that category, as do boiled potatoes (my ancestor's food).  Excepting refined sugar, these are about as uncomplex as a carbohydrate can get.  So how can so many people live healthy lives, in so many different cultures, where these empty calories are the backbone of their diet?  My first thought is moderation.  You don't see the negative effects of these foods unless you overeat them.  Yes, they are processed quickly, leaving your stomach cramped and empty when they are gone. Yes, they are devoid of protein, fat, vitamins and fiber.  You have to get those nutrients somewhere else in your diet, but you really need them only in low amounts.  Bottom line, our basic need is for a minimum number of calories in order to survive, and any kind of calorie counts. 
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Good post Kagura! Thanks for the info. I plan on studying up more about the hot food/cold food/neutral foods concept. 

I try to learn what I can about different foods, different herbs and medicines, etc. of all cultures. With knowledge comes power. Power to make informed decisions. If your knowledge is limited, so are your choices.

As with anything, some things work for some people and not for others. It doesn't make it wrong, it just makes it wrong for you.

Off subject Kagura,  but I am very impressed with your writing skills and ability to communicate your thoughts clearly.  I never would have guessed you were only 14 years old!


I'm OBSESSED with sushi, therefore I LOVE white rice. I think it is good in moderation and I doubt I could even find brown rice at a sushi bar. I have used brown rice in stir fry and what not... it all tastes good to me.

I am going to go and research this hot and cold method. thanks!

Mmmmm! White rice .....mmmmm! yum! I haven't cut this from my diet at all. I just watch the portion sizes. I love white rice waaaayyy too much to cut it out. Just thinking about it is making me want to have some. I am having congee (Chinese rice porridge) for my snack tonight. I guess it's like a treat to me!!
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HI, I would really really like to know when Asians started eating white rice. I'm especially excited to know since I recently watched a Chinese movie that takes place in 280 AD, and they were eating WHITE RICE!!! My friend told me, HA so there is proof that white rice has been around for a long time. I really don't think so--I think the movie was wrong. Please let me know if you or your parents can tell me when white rice was first eaten by Asians.

Thanks so much,


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