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Whole Grain Benefits

From Farro To Freekeh, Here Are 13 Rice Alternatives To Know



Photo: Jessica Gavin by Lauren Golangco

July 03, 2021

Learn about the nutritional benefits, flavors, and textures of various types of rice and other rice substitutes. Spoiler alert: Wild rice, actually not a rice variety!


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White rice is an essential part of Asian cuisine. It plays a central role in many dishes across all meals, from nasi lemak to banana leaf rice. However, there are many other varieties of rice and rice substitutes to explore, each with their own nutritional profile, texture, and taste. Read on to learn about different varieties of rice, grains, seeds, noodles, and even plant fibers!

Related: Everyone should know how to cook rice, says Chef Jowett Yu

White rice - the staple food we know and love!

Photo: Love and Lemons, LLC.

Despite its low fiber content and high glycemic index (GI) (around 73 GI), white rice remains one of the most popular grains in the world – largely thanks to its extreme versatility and market availability. This common grain comes in many different forms and has found its place in many different cuisines. For example, short grain arborio rice is very popular in Italian dishes, while long grain jasmine rice is widely used in Southeast Asia – including Hong Kong!

Brown rice - very similar to white rice, but with added benefits from whole grains.

Photo: Cookie and Kate

Unlike white rice, brown rice still has its very nutritious bran and germs intact. These provide brown rice with much more fiber, antioxidants, and important vitamins and minerals compared to white rice. Additionally, brown rice has a lower GI of around 64-72, which means it’s better at maintaining blood sugar levels and allowing for slower energy release.

Similar: 11 Hong Kong restaurants for the best claypot rice

Red rice - one of the most nutritious varieties with low GI and antioxidant properties!

Photo: Kompass & Gabel

Called “the most nutritious variety of rice” by some, red rice is full of fiber and anthocyanins, the compounds that are responsible for the reddish hue of the grain and have an antioxidant effect. At around 55 GI, this variety of rice also has a lower GI than both white rice and brown rice. While there are both whole grain and partially ground varieties of red rice, keep in mind that the latter lack some of the nutrients than the former – opt for whole grains for maximum benefits!

Black rice - another low GI rice variety with antioxidant properties thanks to the anthocyanins.

Photo: Feast at home

Black rice – also known as banned rice or purple rice – is also filled with anthocyanins, making this cereal option another great source of antioxidants. In addition to having a firmer texture and nuttier taste than the other rice varieties, black rice also has a lower GI of 42.3.

Wild rice - actually not a rice variant, but the seeds of a water grass!

Photo: Cookie and Kate

Don’t let the name fool you – wild rice is actually a seed! While its fiber content is similar to that of brown rice, wild rice is much higher in protein, has a lower GI (45), and also contains all nine essential amino acids – those that our bodies cannot make and must therefore be ingested through our diet. Expect a strong chew and a taste reminiscent of black tea from this “rice”!

ICYMI: 7 Zero Waste Stores in Hong Kong

Adlai - a rice alternative that is grown in many regions of the country.

Photo: Healthyrow Enterprises

Adlai is an ancient grain that has become increasingly popular in recent years. Of the 11 local varieties documented by the Philippine Bureau of Agricultural Research, Guilan is the most popular variety, usually referred to as “Common Adlai”. The slightly nutty, chewy grains look and taste very similar to white rice, but have a lot more protein and fiber while maintaining a low GI (around 35), making them an excellent rice substitute.

Quinoa - a common rice alternative that is actually a seed!

Photo: Gimme Some Oven

Although quinoa is considered a grain by many, this hugely popular low GI (53) rice alternative is actually a seed! Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, plus lots of fiber, protein, and a good amount of healthy fats.

Related: The Ingredients in Traditional Chinese Medicine That Can Boost Your Health

Shirataki Rice - an extremely low calorie option that soaks up any flavor you throw in your direction!

Photo: The Low Carb Muse

Consisting of about “97% water and 3% glucomannan fibers”, Shirataki rice or konjak rice has a very low calorie and carbohydrate profile. While its texture is different from regular rice, it is also a great addition to savory or soupy dishes as it is “near-tasteless” and will soak up all of the flavor easily.

Couscous - a

Photo: Jennifer Segal

Couscous is another common rice alternative that actually does not belong to the grain family – rather, couscous is a “small-beaded pasta” made from semolina flour. There are three main types of couscous, each different in size: Moroccan (the smallest), Israeli, and Lebanese (the largest). While couscous is delicious and extremely versatile, it doesn’t have the best nutritional profile and a mean GI of 65.

Barley - similar to Adlai, with a chewy texture and a slightly nutty taste.

Photo: Of course

Barley is another high-fiber grain that is widely used as a rice substitute – and aside from shirataki (which has a GI of 0 due to its low calorie content), it has the lowest GI on the list at just 28. Similar to Adlai, barley has a chewy texture and a mild, nutty taste. It’s usually sold either peeled or pearled, with peeled barley still having the bran and germ intact and therefore providing more protein and fiber per serving than the pearled variety.

See also: Plant Chef Peggy Chan on Zero Foodprint Asia

Bulgur - the fastest cooking whole grain, perfect for anyone looking for a practical, high-fiber alternative.

Photo: Deliciously Mediterranean

Bulgur is best known for its place in tabbouleh and other salads, but bulgur is also a good substitute for rice. Like adlai and barley, bulgur is a tough, slightly nutty grain, but also the “fastest cooking” whole grain, which makes it particularly handy for anyone looking for a high-fiber, low GI alternative (46).

Farro - an ancient whole grain that can take some time to prepare, but has great taste and texture!

Photo: Pinchandswirl

Another common low GI rice substitute is Farro (45 GI). The preparation of this original whole grain takes a little longer, but it promises a great bite and a nutty, slightly cinnamon-like taste that is worth the effort. The pearl and semi-pearl varieties do not need to be soaked overnight, but they are also less nutritious than the protein-rich and fiber-rich whole Farro.

Freekeh - a whole grain with a unique smoke flavor and a low GI!

Photo: Live Eat Learn

Like many on the list, this cereal has a slightly nutty flavor and chewy texture, which makes it a great substitute for rice – but Freekeh also has a mild, smoky flavor thanks to the roasting process that removes the peel. Although Freekeh is generally sold as whole grain or crack, the only difference between them is that Cracked Freekeh has been broken into smaller pieces for faster cooking and a softer texture. Therefore, both technically are whole grains and their nutritional benefits are the same: low GI (43), high fiber, and high protein.

Related: The best noodles in Hong Kong, according to food stylist Gloria Chung

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Whole Grain Benefits

How to live longer: Whole grains can boost longevity Introduction



In recent years, supermarkets have struggled to meet demand for healthier foods after the evidence of healthy eating increased. Fruits and vegetables are often revered for their endless benefits, but in recent years other foods have also proven to be buffers against a number of ailments. There is a growing line of research highlighting the health benefits of consuming whole grains and their potential longevity effects.

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Doctor Qi Sun, associate professor at Harvard Medical School, stated that a whole-grain diet is also “linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and certain types of cancer.”

The study was based on nutritional information from more than 100,000 men and women followed for more than 20 years.

Participants who replaced one serving of refined grains per day with whole grain products reduced their risk of death by eight percent over the study period.

Research suggests that the longevity effects are due to the compounds, particularly fiber, magnesium, vitamins, and phytochemicals.


Dietary guidelines recommend eating at least three servings of whole grains a day, with a survivor reducing the overall risk of death by 5 percent.

A serving of whole grains is equivalent to 28 grams or 1 ounce, that’s three cups of popcorn, one cup of whole grain muesli or a slice of whole grain bread.

In addition, the results showed that the risk of death was reduced by 20 percent during the study period if a daily serving of red meat was replaced with whole grain products.

Sun said, “If you really look at whole grain consumption with other diseases, stroke, heart disease, and colon cancer, whole grains are consistently associated with lower risk for these diseases.

“Half of the grains that a person consumes every day should come from whole grain products.”

David Jacobs, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota School who was not involved in the study, commented: “[The study] showed, as some other studies have shown in several other contexts, that consumption of whole grains is associated with reduced all-cause mortality and mortality from cardiovascular disease, but not particularly strongly associated with mortality from cancer.

“It is a very difficult thing in nutritional epidemiology to separate such things and make certain statements.”

The researchers also explained that whole grains have a lower glycemic index, meaning they result in less increases and decreases in blood sugar, and explain how the food might protect against type 2 diabetes.

The Mayo Clinic notes that unrefined whole grains are a superior source of fiber when compared to other nutrients.

The health authority recommends adding them to your diet by “enjoying breakfasts that contain whole grains, such as whole bran flakes, whole wheat meal, or oatmeal”.

“Replace plan bagels with wholegrain toast or wholegrain bagels,” it continues. “Bring sandwiches with whole grain bread or rolls.”

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Whole Grain Benefits

Tom Brady reveals he doesn’t ‘eat much bread’ and experts say it can keep you young



Tom Brady isn’t a fan of bread, but that didn’t stop him from becoming a Subway spokesperson.

The six-time NFL Super Bowl champion confirmed his new partnership with the global sandwich chain in an Instagram post he shared with his 10.1 million followers on Sunday.

“As this new commercial will tell you, I don’t eat a lot of bread, but at the end of the day I know size when I see it,” he wrote.


Brady, 44, shared his strict anti-inflammatory diet that excludes white flour, sugar, and gluten – key ingredients found in most commercially made breads. While the NFL quarterback allegedly avoids bread to keep his digestive system in tip-top shape, it turns out that scraping bread off can help you look and feel young.

Registered nutritionist Maryann Walsh of Walsh Nutrition Consulting told Fox News that some carbohydrate-free guests report having more energy throughout the day. report that they have more energy throughout the day.

“Consuming large amounts of bread or refined carbohydrates can cause blood sugar spikes, followed by a blood sugar drop that makes you feel sluggish,” said Walsh. “By eliminating or significantly reducing bread, it can help some experience more sustained blood sugar levels, resulting in more sustained energy levels.”

She added, “Blood sugar spikes from overeating can accelerate aging, as Advanced Glycation End Products (aptly named AGEs) accelerate aging. AGEs are associated with increased oxidative stress and inflammation, leading to undesirable accelerated skin aging and joint inflammation, and an increased susceptibility to diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. “


Tom Brady, 44, shared his strict anti-inflammatory diet that excludes white flour, sugar, and gluten - key ingredients found in most commercially made breads.  (iStock)

Tom Brady, 44, shared his strict anti-inflammatory diet that excludes white flour, sugar, and gluten – key ingredients found in most commercially made breads. (iStock)

Aside from potential energy and longevity, Walsh said avoiding bread could contribute to an overall leaner figure.

“Since bread is an important source of carbohydrates, it can cause water retention in the body, which can make many feel bloated,” she said. “Carbohydrates turn into glycogen in the body, and glycogen normally holds two to three times its weight in water. Because of this, when people start a low-carb diet, they lose weight quickly when they start out because, in addition to losing fat, often they don’t hold on as much water . “


It’s not clear if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback watched a fountain of youth from cutting bread, but Brady’s personal chef – Allen Campbell – told that the NFL star is following an organic, gluten-free diet to keep his guts healthy maintain health.

“Gluten is the protein in bread that can ‘react’ with our immune system,” said registered nutritionist Caroline Thomason in an interview with Fox News. “In people who are sensitive to gluten and who experience negative reactions when they eat bread, gluten increases the inflammation in their bodies.”

Gluten is a protein found in various types of grain, including wheat, barley, and rye.

Gluten is a protein found in various types of grain, including wheat, barley, and rye.

She continued, “The symptoms of gluten intolerance can be insidious. These include rashes, indigestion, gas, headaches, and fatigue.”


Other symptoms of gluten sensitivity include joint pain, fatigue, and gastrointestinal issues, which she said can happen to people who have been diagnosed with celiac disease or not, according to Walsh.

“Gluten-free bread and pasta are available, but it’s important to note that just because a product is gluten-free doesn’t mean it’s low in carbohydrates,” said Walsh. “Anyone who hopes to feel better by doing without or reducing bread will want to enjoy gluten-free bread sparingly.”


Jinan Banna, a nutrition professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, told Fox News that people who are not sensitive to gluten have little reason to avoid bread.

While there are benefits to not overeating, most people don't need to cut out carbohydrates or gluten to stay healthy.

While there are benefits to not overeating, most people don’t need to cut out carbohydrates or gluten to stay healthy.

“Bread is a source of carbohydrates that our bodies can use for energy, and it’s also rich in vitamins and minerals,” said Banna. “Whole grain bread also provides several grams of fiber per slice, which is important for digestive health, weight management, and maintaining heart health.”


In addition to Brady’s bread- and gluten-free diet, the quarterback is also said to exclude selected vegetables from his diet for similar gut health reasons.

“Tom Brady is likely to exclude nightshades – tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, etc. – from his diet because they have also been shown to work with our immune systems,” said Thomason. “This is especially true for people with autoimmune diseases who are more prone to lower immune systems.”


Brady’s representatives did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

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Whole Grain Benefits

What Is Cellulose and Is It Safe to Eat?



Cellulose is a fiber found in fruits, vegetables, and other plant foods as part of a plant’s cell walls. It occurs in tree bark and in the leaves of a plant.

When you eat plant foods, you are consuming cellulose. But you may not know that cellulose fiber is also being removed from plants to be used as an additive in many other foods and sold as dietary supplements (1).

This article provides an overview of cellulose, where it is commonly found and whether it is safe to consume.

Cellulose consists of a number of sugar molecules that are linked together in a long chain. Since it is a fiber that forms plant cell walls, it is found in all plant foods.

When you ingest foods that contain it, the cellulose stays intact as it travels through your small intestine. Humans do not have the enzymes needed to break down cellulose (1).

Cellulose is also an insoluble fiber and does not dissolve in water. When consumed, insoluble fiber can help push food through the digestive system and aid in regular bowel movements (2).

In addition to their role in digestive health, fiber like cellulose can also be beneficial in other ways. Studies suggest that high fiber intake may reduce the risk of various diseases, including stomach cancer and heart disease (3).


Cellulose is an indigestible, insoluble fiber found in fruits, vegetables, and other plants.

Fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and other plant-based foods contain varying amounts of cellulose. The skin of plant foods usually contains more cellulose than the pulp.

Celery in particular has a very high cellulose content. If you’ve ever got stringy pieces of celery between your teeth, you’ve felt cellulose in action (4).

Cellulose is also a common food additive. In this use, it is obtained either from wood or waste from the production of plant-based foods such as oat shells or peanut and almond shells (1).

Other names for cellulose added to food include:

  • Cellulose rubber
  • microcrystalline cellulose
  • Sodium carboxymethyl cellulose
  • microcrystalline cellulose

Cellulose can be added to grated cheese or dried spice mixes to prevent lumps. It’s also found in some ice creams and frozen yogurts, especially low-fat varieties, to thicken or blend the product and add thickness without fat (1).

Bread products can be fortified with cellulose to increase their fiber content. Additionally, cellulose can add bulk to nutritional or low-calorie foods like meal replacement shakes so that they become filling without adding to total calories (1).

It’s worth noting that fiber is generally added to many foods, even things like yogurt and ground beef. If you are interested to see if the products you have bought contain cellulose or other added fiber, check the ingredients list.

Finally, cellulose is available in the form of dietary supplements. Cellulose supplements often contain a modified version of cellulose that forms a gel in the digestive tract.

Manufacturers of these supplements claim that they will help you fill your stomach, lower your caloric intake, and promote weight loss (2, 5).

However, it is unclear whether cellulose preparations meet their requirements.

A manufacturer-sponsored study of the weight loss effects of the cellulose supplement Plenity found that people who took the supplement lost more weight than those who took a placebo after 24 weeks. However, further long-term studies are required (5).


Cellulose is found in all plant-based foods and in the form of dietary supplements. It is a common food additive and is found in ice cream, grated cheese, and dietary foods, among others.

Eating cellulose – especially from whole fruits and vegetables, grains, beans, and other plant-based foods – is generally considered safe.

All of the possible disadvantages of cellulose are related to the side effects of consuming too much fiber. In general, if you eat too much cellulose, fiber, or take cellulosic supplements, you may experience:

  • Flatulence
  • Upset stomach
  • gas
  • constipation
  • diarrhea

Current dietary guidelines recommend that adults consume at least 25 grams of fiber per day from food, but may require more or less depending on age, gender, and personal needs (6).

If you are following a high-fiber diet or increasing your fiber intake, you should drink plenty of water to avoid unpleasant side effects. Exercise can also help.

Those on a low-fiber diet should limit their intake of cellulose. People with a health condition that affects the digestive system, such as: B. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) also need to watch out for cellulose in food.

Cellulose as a food additive is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The amounts of cellulose currently used in food are not considered to be hazardous to humans (7).

Keep in mind, however, that getting fiber from whole plant foods is usually better than getting it from additives or supplements. In addition to fiber, these foods provide many other beneficial nutrients and compounds.

Before adding any cellulosic supplements to your diet, it is best to speak with a doctor.


Consuming cellulose from foods, supplements, or additives is likely to be safe for most people. However, too much of it can lead to side effects that come with excessive consumption of fiber such as gas, gas, and abdominal pain.

Cellulose is a type of fiber that forms the cell walls of plants. When you eat plant foods, you are eating cellulose.

Many other foods, from grated cheese to low-calorie or diet foods, have cellulose added to support various properties. Cellulose also exists in the form of dietary supplements.

It is generally safe to consume cellulose. However, if you eat too much cellulose or fiber, you may experience nasty side effects such as gas and gas.

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