Essential nutrients are compounds that the body cannot make or make enough of to support growth, disease prevention, and good health. While there are many essential nutrients, they can be broken into two categories: macronutrients and micronutrients.
Micronutrients – Vitamins, Minerals, Enzymes
- Vitamins are vital for warding off disease and staying healthy. The body needs these micronutrients to support its functions. There are 13 essential vitamins that the body needs to function properly, including vitamins A, C, B6, and D. Vitamins are necessary for healthy vision, skin, and bones.
- Like vitamins, minerals help support the body. They’re necessary for many body functions, including building strong bones and teeth, regulating your metabolism, and staying properly hydrated. Common minerals are calcium, iron, and zinc.
- Called micronutrients because they are needed only in minuscule amounts, these substances are the “magic wands” that enable the body to produce enzymes, hormones and other substances essential for proper growth and development.
- Micronutrients have many important functions in the body, but one of the most vital is to help enzymes — proteins that keep all of our organs functioning — do their jobs. The body and brain cannot function without enzymes.
Macronutrients – Proteins, Carbohydrates, Fats
- Source of calories and the raw material for building
- Quality is important: Refined? Feedlot? Rancid?
- Need in the right proportions – different for each individual and at different times of life
- Must be well-digested – To start, are you chewing your food well?
- Avoid large quantity but poor quality
Proteins: 1 gram = 4 calories – Sources: grains with legumes, nuts and seeds, poultry, meats, dairy, eggs, protein powders
Fats: 1 gram = 9 calories – Saturated fats are animal fats, butter or ghee, coconut and palm oils. Monounsaturated fats are found in olives, avocados, canola oil and almonds. Polyunsaturated fats are vegetable oils, flax, walnuts, and fish.
Carbohydrates: 1 gram = 4 calories – There are refined carbs like refined (processed) grains, fruit juices, sodas, sugars (fructose, processed honey, sugar, etc.) and unrefined carbs like whole grains, legumes, root and leafy vegetables.
- Carbohydrates that have been stripped of the bran and germ layer, leaving only the endosperm
- Refined carbs are the equivalent to sugar on the glycemic index. The Glycemic Index (GI) is a relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels.
- Grinding whole grains increases the surface area which in turn increases the glycemic index. Whole wheat breads are very close to white breads in their effect on glucose levels.
- Commercial bakers use bromide, a known toxin, to “condition” flour.
- Causes blood sugar imbalances – sharp rise followed by a steep fall
- Annual per capita consumption is rising. In 1913 it was 40 pounds and in 1999 it was 64 pounds consumed on average per person in the U.S..
- The average teen boys eats 109 pounds of sugar a year.
- In 2001-2004, intake of added sugars for Americans was 22.2 teaspoons per day or 355 calories.
- Refined sugar has NO supporting vitamins or minerals – only calories.
- Refined sugar is acid-forming and it flushes minerals from the body.
- Refined sugar contributes to emotional imbalance, hyperactivity, dental problems, weakened immunity, and Candida yeast overgrowth
- Refined sugar promotes the growth of cancerous cells.
- Salt is found in all processed products. Sodium must be balanced with potassium. The Standard American Diet (SAD!) is high in refined salt and causes an imbalance. This imbalance leads to edema, hypertension, and cellular disease.
- Modern salt is baked and processed so that all trace minerals have been removed. Often dextrose and aluminum are added.
- Unrefined salt contains trace minerals. Look for salt that isn’t white! Grey, pink, brown is better!
Commercial beef and dairy
- Contain hormones and antibiotics – These animals are fed an unnatural diet which often includes genetically modified plants. Cows are also often fed other animals. Cows are vegetarians. Cows are given estrogen enhancements to increase growth rate and milk production. They are overcrowded and disease is rampant.
- Contain concentrated pesticide residue
- Pasteurization and homogenization may lead to allergies and food intolerances
- Contribute to sluggish liver and imbalances in the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems
- Consuming leads to antibiotic resistance in humans
- Meat is colored and treated with preservatives.
Better animal fats:
- Seek grass-fed sources. This choice will be free of toxins and be higher in omega-3s.
- Use organic butter and ghee (from grazed cows). They both contain beneficial saturated fats. Saturated fats lead to higher availability of antioxidants.
- Eat wild-caught cold-water fish such as sardines and salmon
In some parts of the world, the word “to eat” literally means “to eat rice.” All varieties of rice are available throughout the year, supplying as much as half of the daily calories for half of the world’s population. Brown rice as an excellent source of manganese, and a good source of selenium, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, and niacin (vitamin B3).
The process that produces brown rice removes only the outermost layer, the hull, of the rice kernel and is the least damaging to its nutritional value.
The complete milling and polishing that converts brown rice into white rice destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1, 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids.
Fully milled and polished white rice is required by law in the US to be “enriched” with vitamins B1, B3 and iron. But the form of these nutrients when added back into the processed rice is not the same as in the original unprocessed version, and at least 11 lost nutrients are not replaced in any form even with rice “enrichment”.
The difference between brown rice and white rice is not just color! A whole grain of rice has several layers. Only the outermost layer, the hull, is removed to produce what we call brown rice. This process is the least damaging to the nutritional value of the rice and avoids the unnecessary loss of nutrients that occurs with further processing.
If brown rice is further milled to remove the bran and most of the germ layer, the result is a whiter rice, but also a rice that has lost many more nutrients. At this point the rice is still unpolished, and it takes polishing to produce the white rice we are used to seeing.
Polishing removes the aleurone layer of the grain. This is the layer filled with health-supportive, essential fats. Because these fats, once exposed to air by the refining process, are highly susceptible to oxidation, this layer is removed to extend the shelf life of the product. The resulting white rice is simply a refined starch that is largely bereft of its original nutrients.
How to Buy
Rice is available prepackaged as well as in bulk containers. If purchasing brown rice in a packaged container, check to see if there is a “use-by” date on the package since brown rice, owing to its natural oils, has the potential to become rancid if kept too long.
Research recently published suggests that some non-organic U.S. long grain rice may have 1.4 to 5 times more arsenic than rice from Europe, India or Bangladesh. For this reason, select organically grown rice whenever possible.
Just as with any other food that you may purchase in the bulk section, make sure that the bins containing the rice are covered and that the store has a good product turnover so as to ensure its maximal freshness. Whether purchasing rice in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure that there is no evidence of moisture.
How to Store
Since brown rice still features an oil-rich germ, it is more susceptible to becoming rancid than white rice and therefore should be stored in the refrigerator. Stored in an airtight container, brown rice will keep fresh for about six months.
The storage of cooked rice is controversial. Most organizations recommend 4-7 days of storage in the refrigerator at most. Be sure to keep your cooked rice in a tightly sealed container when stored in your refrigerator.
How to Cook
Soak the rice overnight. The arsenic will be released and you can rinse the rice before cooking. If you don’t have time, rinse the rice a number of times before cooking.
You will not wash away nutrients when you rinse rice. Rinsing rice actually rids the grains of surface starches, prevents clumping, and yields a clean, fresh taste.
For every 1 part rice, add five parts water.
Cook until the rice is tender, you do not have to boil away all the water.
Drain the rice and rinse with hot water to get rid of the last of the cooking water.
Use brown rice as a side dish with herbs or spruce it up with the toppings of your choice. Try nuts, sesame seeds, sautéed mushrooms, and scallions.
Make homemade vegetable sushi rolls by wrapping brown rice and your favorite vegetables in sheets of well-moistened nori.
Use rice leftovers for cold rice salads that are great for on-the-go lunches. Be creative and add either chicken or tofu plus your favorite vegetables, nuts, herbs and spices.
For a simple lunch or dinner entrée, serve beans and rice accompanied by the vegetables of your choice. This combo creates a complete protein.
Place rice and chopped vegetables in a pita bread, top with your favorite dressing, and enjoy a quick and easy lunch meal.
Lemon Brown Rice with Garlic and Thyme
Emily Farris, Food and Wine
2 T unsalted organic butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups brown rice (soaked overnight or rinsed well)
3 cups organic vegetable stock
Freshly ground pepper
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 T garlic, minced
2 T chopped fresh organic thyme or rosemary
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
2 T fresh lemon juice
zest of one lemon
1. In a large sauce pan, melt the butter. Add the shallots and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until soften.
2. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes.
3. Add the stock, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the broth is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 45 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and let stand, covered for 10 minutes, Fluff with a fork.
5. In a skillet, heat the oil, garlic, thyme and chili flakes over moderately low heat. Cook until garlic is just beginning to brown, about 3 minutes
6. Remove from heat and add lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper. Toss with the rice and serve.