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White Rice & Triglycerides

By Jay Schwartz

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends eating more foods in the bread, cereal, rice and pasta group than foods in any other group because they can "help prevent diseases that result from poor nutrition," including cancer and heart disease, according to "Essentials for Health and Wellness." However, the USDA and other health-related groups consider white rice less healthy than brown rice and wild rice. White rice's negative impact on triglycerides is part of its problem.


Two major types of fats can be found in blood: triglycerides and cholesterol. Higher amounts of triglycerides in your blood increase your risk of heart disease. "Controlling Cholesterol The Natural Way" reports that men are at high risk of heart disease if their triglyceride level is above 133 mg/dL if they're 20 to 39 years old, above 170 mg/dL if they're 40 to 59 and above 154 mg/dL if they're 60 and older. The high-risk minimums for women in the same age groups are 107, 141 and 147 mg/dL, respectively.


Body fat and food are the primary sources of high triglyceride levels. "The Top Ten Ways to Decrease Elevated Triglycerides," a University of Massachusetts Medical School report, identifies eating fewer "refined carbohydrate-containing foods," including white rice, as the third way to reduce your triglycerides. Eating fewer sweets and drinking less alcohol are the first and second ways. The report also recommends that you eat more high-fiber foods. This is important because brown rice and wild rice have more fiber than white rice.


Unrefined carbohydrates such as apples lower triglyceride levels, while refined carbohydrates such as apple juice raise triglyceride levels because a lot of fiber is removed during the food manufacturing process, according to "The New Pritikin Program." Whole grains such as brown rice and wild rice are unrefined carbohydrates, while refined grains such as white rice are refined carbohydrates. Milling whole grains into refined grains improves their shelf life, but also removes their fiber and iron, according to the USDA report "What Foods Are In The Grain Group?"


The kind of white rice you eat can affect your triglyceride levels because some white rice has more fiber than others, according to "Fiber Content of Selected Foods," a USDA report. Dry white rice, with 4.1 g of fiber per cup, is the only white rice with more fiber than the least fiber-rich brown rice and wild rice. Raw white rice, cooked white rice, instant white rice and the only white rice not enriched with folic acid, niacin, riboflavin and thiamin have 2.4, 1.6, 1 and 0.6 g of fiber per cup, respectively.


White rice raises your triglyceride levels for a second reason, according to the late Dr. Robert Atkins – it rapidly increases your blood-sugar levels. Sugar's glycemic index is 100. White rice's 88 glycemic-index score is among the highest of any food. Brown rice has a 55 score. Atkins, unlike most other nutritionists, believed that unrefined carbs can also raise your triglycerides because they can rapidly increase your blood-sugar levels. Potatoes have an 85 glycemic index.

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