Key is to eat everything in moderation

Every food type has its pros and cons, be it fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins or minerals.

The benefits of brown rice are known to many, and recent promotion by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) has pushed brown rice to greater heights.

But there are little-known facts about brown rice that we should also take note of.

For one thing, brown rice contains more phytates than white rice. Phytates block the absorption of several health-beneficial minerals, including calcium, which is often source-deficient in many Asians.

In other words, one of the side effects of eating brown rice is poor bone density, increasing one's chance of developing osteoporosis.

So, while we may lower our chance of getting diabetes, we may be putting ourselves at risk of osteoporosis. Yet, osteoporosis, known as a silent disease, often goes undiagnosed until a fracture happens.

The HPB's website says that over a period of 30 years in Singapore, cases of hip fractures increased fivefold in women aged 50 and above, and 1.5 times in men of the same age group.

What's more frightening is that studies have shown that one in every five people with osteoporotic hip fractures dies within a year. The statistics are set to worsen with an ageing population.

Traditionally, brown rice is soaked for 12-24 hours prior to cooking to reduce the level of phytates.

Today, many brands of brown rice available in the market claim that soaking is not required prior to cooking. And consumers happily believe their claims and stop soaking the grains.

The result is that we are consuming brown rice less all its benefits, yet with all its side effects.

A study published in the International Journal Of Food Sciences And Nutrition found that brown basmati rice actually raised blood glucose levels more than white basmati rice.

The conclusion is that the colour of rice alone does not determine its effect on one's blood sugar level.

So, while we want to eat more healthily, let us be more discerning about food fads that are being promoted and eat everything in moderation.

Lai Wai Mun (Ms)