You've heard that brown rice and green tea are superb for your health, but it's hard to sort through all of the rumors about these foods. Brown rice provides dietary fiber as well as numerous phytochemicals, while refined white rice lacks many of these helpful substances. Green tea boosts alertness and could thwart disease, but scientists are still researching the drink's healing potential. As with all foods, moderation is key. The best way to eat a healthy diet is to incorporate a wide array of fruits, vegetables, grains and lean proteins.
Fiber in Rice
At 3.4 grams per cup, brown rice provides about 14 percent of the daily fiber needs for most women under 50. In contrast, white rice has about half a gram of fiber per cup. High-fiber foods are linked to reduced constipation and lower risk of hemorrhoids and diverticular disease. They also may help prevent heart disease and certain types of cancer, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Researchers are still studying the phytonutrients, or plant nutrients, in brown rice and other whole grains for potential health benefits.
Rice and Diabetes
Choosing brown rice over white rice may reduce your risk of diabetes, according to a report published in the "Archives of Internal Medicine" journal in 2010. Researchers reviewed results from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and the Nurses' Health Study I and II, which followed 157,463 women and 39,765 men. They found that substituting one-third of a serving of white rice with brown rice daily resulted in a 16-percent reduction in Type 2 diabetes risk.
Green Tea Catechins
Green tea is a hot topic, and science is still catching up on the possible benefits. All teas contain antioxidants called catechins -- but green tea has triple the amount of black or oolong teas, which undergo more processing. These catechins may reduce risk of diabetes, cancer, heart disease and stroke, according to North Dakota State University food and nutrition specialists.
Tea and Weight
It would be pretty sweet to sip your way to a lean physique, and green tea does have a slight effect on weight loss -- but probably not enough for significant results. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews published an analysis of studies from numerous databases and found that participants in non-Japanese trials who drank green tea lost an average of 0.1 pound more than those who did not drink green tea. Japanese study results were counted separately and ranged from no difference at all to slight reductions in body mass.
Consumer Reports found that rice, especially brown rice, contains arsenic, and those who eat rice have 44 percent more of this toxic metal in their bodies than non-rice eaters. The Food and Drug Administration hasn't established safe arsenic levels yet, and there's no evidence of ill effects. However, the FDA is in the process of conducting a comprehensive analysis of arsenic in rice. In an initial report published in September, 2012, they found levels ranging from 1.2 micrograms to 11.1 micrograms of arsenic per serving, with domestically grown brown rice containing the most.
Genmaicha, or brown rice green tea, is green tea with toasted brown rice that may resemble popcorn kernels. The rice gives the tea a nutty flavor, but it is not clear whether it provides any additional health benefits. One study on genmaicha and breast cancer among Japanese women, published in the "Breast Cancer Research" journal in 2010, found no correlation, indicating that brown rice green tea does not offer protection from breast cancer.
- MayoClinic.com: Whole Grains: Hearty Options for a Healthy Diet
- Consumer Reports: Arsenic in Your Food
- Health.gov: Choose a Diet With Plenty of Grain Products, Vegetables, and Fruits
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Agricultural Library: Nutrient Data for 20037, Rice, Brown, Long-Grain, Cooked
- Harvard School of Public Health: Daily Fiber Requirements
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Agricultural Library: Nutrient Data for 20045, Rice, White, Long-Grain, Regular, Cooked
- PubMed.gov: White Rice, Brown Rice, and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in U.S. Men and Women
- North Dakota State University: Take Time for Tea FN-1328
- Pubmed.gov: Green Tea for Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance in Overweight or Obese Adults
- Harvard School of Public Health: Health Gains from Whole Grains
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.