Brown or white rice? Organic or non-organic? Which is the healthier choice?
Life is full of choices. Every day, we make decisions. They may be simple no-brainers (what should I wear to work today?) or life altering ones (should I quit my high-paying job and do what I love instead?).
With the growing health trend, dietery choices have become a serious issue for many people especially Asians. We show you not just what’s good for you, but what’s best.
GREEN OR BLACK TEA?
Black tea leaves are fully fermented, while green tea leaves are not fermented at all. The antioxidant epigallocatechin galiate – EGCG – is present in green tea in its potent, natural state. During fermentation, black tea is oxidized and converted into less potent compounds. Continuing research however, seems to indicate that the antioxidants in black tea – theaflavin and thearubigens have health benefits similar to green tea.
The view: At the moment, green tea appears to have the upper hand. It contains less caffeine, minimizing the unwanted side effects of the substance, stains the teeth less and is richer in natural antioxidants.
ORGANIC OR NON-ORGANIC?
Organic food products are processed without chemical fertilizers, insectisides, animal antibiotics or growth hormones.
The view: Both conventional and organic foods carry the same nutritional values and meet the same quality and safety standards. However, a person with sensitives to chemicals should go for organic produce.
BROWN OR WHITE RICE?
White rice is simply brown rice that has undergone additional polishing. This polishing is detrimental to the nutritional value of rice as it removes important nutrients such as the B vitamins, vitamin E, folic acid, iron, magnesium and potassium. Brown rice also has a higher fibre content.
The view: Today, there is fortified white rice, where lost nutrients are replaced using the synthetic sources. But for all-natural goodness, brown rice is definitely much healthier.
PORK OR CHICKEN?
The white meat of chicken is far better than any cut pork. A single chicken breast has half the calories and a quarter less fat than a slice of pork. Go for skinless, as chicken skin is rich in saturated fat.
The view: If you can’t do without pork, shop for the leanest cuts. Tenderloin is the leanest and it has only 4gm of fat.
BROWN BREAD OR WHITE BREAD?
Brown bread comes from whole wheat or whole-meal flour, while white bread comes from refined wheat flour.
The view: Wheat flour has the bran and germ removed, causing it to lose nutrients. Most white breads are now fortified with vitamins and minerals that are chemically re-introduced into the mix. The fibre content, though, remains much lower than that of brown bread. As with rice, brown bread is better and healthier option.
BUTTER OR MARGARINE?
Because butter comes from animal fat, it contains cholesterol and saturated fat that increase low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or ‘bad cholesterol’. On the other hand, margarine is processed through hydrogenation – a process which adds trans-fat. And, trans-fat lowers high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol.
The view: On your next grocery trip, pick margarine with zero trans-fat and 2gm or less of saturated fat. Your best choice is soft-tub margarine, which has the lowest saturated and trans-fat content and without the cholesterol.
WHITE MEAT OR RED MEAT?
The issue with red meat is that many of its cuts contain high levels of saturated fat. Chicken, turkey and fish have less saturated fat and total calories compared to pork loin, roast beef and ground meat.
The view: You don’t need to completely cut red meat from your diet. It is still one of the richest sources of iron, protein, zinc and B vitamins. Just eat red meat sparingly and try to get the leanest cuts and remove the skin together with the visible fat.