White or brown rice? 2% or skim? Eat this, not that
You’re in the grocery store, facing an intimidating wall of cooking oils – coconut, sunflower, olive, peanut, palm. You’ve heard positive things about both olive and coconut oil – but how are you supposed to know which to choose?
Kelly Ritchie, a registered dietitian at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill., offers insight on this and some of your other common food choice questions.
- Olive or coconut oil? Olive oil is mainly made up of mono- and polyunsaturated fats, which are heart healthy and low in saturated fats. Coconut oil is much higher in saturated fats, which can raise your bad cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease.
- White or brown rice? Brown rice is the natural form of rice and contains more fiber and nutrients than white rice. The increased fiber content in brown rice will help you feel fuller longer, decrease a chance for sugar spike and help lower cholesterol. Some people are concerned about the association of rice and arsenic; arsenic is an element found in the ground, and since rice grows in the ground, it does absorb a small amount. Consuming a moderate amount of rice is considered safe. Still concerned? You can decrease the amount of arsenic in rice by cooking it in extra water and draining the excess water after the rice is cooked.
- 2% or skim milk? Both skim and 2% milk contain the same amount of vitamin D and calcium, which are essential for building and maintaining bone health. But skim milk is lower in calories, fat and cholesterol than 2% milk.
- White or wheat bread? Whole grain bread is vital! The two types of grains are refined and whole. Refined products are processed and remove the bran and germ from the grain. Both wheat and white bread can be refined. Whole grain products contain more fiber, iron and B vitamins. Check the ingredients on nutrition labels to ensure the product is whole grain.
- Milk or dark chocolate? Dark chocolate made from real cocoa beans is not only rich in flavor but also antioxidants. Having a small amount of dark chocolate can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, improve mood and provide anti-inflammatory responses.
“Everything in moderation is key!” Ritchie says. “You want to maintain an overall healthy diet that includes lean meats/proteins, legumes, a variety of vegetables and fruits and grains. Do not eliminate food groups from your diet. And remember: even too much of a good thing can be bad.”
About the Author
Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is the public affairs coordinator at Advocate Children's Hospital. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.