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Red and Black Rice for Heart Health

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You should consider adding healthy whole grains to your diet. This means things like 100% whole wheat, whole oats, bulgur, and now even red or black rice which has been shown to reduce the arterial plaque which leads to heart disease.  READ MORE

Whole grains have a variety of health benefits to offer consumers. Studies show that individuals that are in the upper quintile of whole grain intake have a 29% lower risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) than those who eat less whole grain. Researchers believe it is the components within the whole grain that gives it these awesome benefits. Whole grains have dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals antioxidants, phytosterols and other chemicals. Researchers of the study are promoting at least 3 servings a day to get these benefits. New research shows that adding the whole grain red or black rice may also be beneficial.

Despite changes in lifestyle and the widespread use of statin cholesterol reducing medications, cardiovascular disease remains the nation’s #1 killer.  The treatment of cardiovascular disease with rice diets was suggested several decades ago by Dr. Walter Kempner and his Rice Diet experiments. More than 50 years ago, his studies showed that consumption of white rice decreased blood pressure and lowered hypercholesterolemia in humans. Unfortunately, his diet hardly consisted of anything else.

There are different types of rice. Eighty-five percent of rice consumed by humans is white rice; the rest is colored rice, most of which is red and black rice. Red and black rice are planted mainly in South Asian and other countries such as Italy, Greece and the United States. Europeans eat more black rice than South Asians. Colored rice has long been consumed in China and is considered to be a health food, but there are no studies available concerning the effects of consumption of red or black rice on atherosclerosis or cardiovascular diseases.

In animal studies involving rabbits. Switching from white rice to red or black was clearly beneficial. Mice were divided into groups. They were all fed a high cholesterol except for the control group. Groups were fed black rice diet, red rice diet or white rice diet for 10 weeks.

The area of atherosclerotic plaque was 50% lower in rabbits fed the red or black rice diets than in those fed the white rice diet. Serum HDL (good) cholesterol was greater in the red rice and black rice groups as well as antioxidant levels. Red or black rice consumption reduced or retarded the progression of atherosclerotic plaque development induced by dietary cholesterol.

The researchers believe the higher HDL levels and increased antioxidant leading to decreased oxidative status may be mechanisms of the anti-atherogenic effect of red or black rice.

“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 and antioxidants,” Zhimin Xu, PhD, of Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, says in a news release. “If berries are used to boost health, why not black rice and black rice bran?”