White or brown rice? 2% or skim? Eat this, not that

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.”

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  1. Stephanie Johnson July 30, 2017 at 10:48 am · Reply

    Holly Brenza I am a cancer patient at Advocate Condell Medical Center and I find it very disturbing that you are posting vital health related articles without having a medical background or doing proper research. You marked a comment I made as spam…I AM A PATIENT PAYING YOUR SALARY. Not spam. I am thankful that there are doctors at other major medical centers who understand science and don’t just disseminate the status quo.
    Check out Dr. Phinney, Dr. FUNG, my own oncologist Dr. KESSLERING, Dr. Westman, I could go on. Dr. Andreas. The following YouTube video explains why cancer patients should not eat low fat

    • Holly Brenza

      Hi Stephanie,

      Thank you for your comment. These recommendations are from one of our registered dietitians on staff. They are general tips that may not apply in every single individual’s case.

      Thanks for reading!


  2. Holly-
    I do appreciate this article and saw that Kelly Ritchie (the registered dietitian) was listed as giving this advice. I fully understood that this advice was for the general public and that it would not replace any advice from a physician or dietitian for a specific patient related to their personal situation.
    Keep this info coming! There is a lot of conflicting dietary information out there and I really enjoy the information that Advocate provides.

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About the Author

Holly Brenza
Holly Brenza

Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator on the content team at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. 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.