Did you know… that a spoonful of black rice bran contains more powerful antioxidants than a spoonful of blueberries?
The “Forbidden Rice”
In ancient China, black rice was known as “forbidden rice” because only the emperor and members of the royal family were allowed to eat it. Black rice was first introduced to the United States in the 1990’s.
Characteristics of Black Rice
Color: Raw black rice is black or dark brown. When cooked, it becomes a deep purple-burgundy due to the healthful pigments (anthocyanins). The color will transfer to other foods, so if you combine brown rice with black, it’ll turn a purple hue.
Taste: Black rice has a roasted nutty taste. It’s used in Asian desserts as well as for food coloring, noodles, sushi, and pudding.
Storage: Store in the refrigerator and use within 3 months.
Black rice is a whole grain and more nutritious than brown and white rice. It has more fiber, protein, and iron as well as fewer calories and carbohydrates. Here’s how they compare:
1/4 cup uncooked BLACK rice (Organic Black Pearl Rice by Lundberg® Family Farms)
33 grams carbohydrates
5 grams protein
3 grams fiber
1/4 cup uncooked BROWN rice (by Sukoyaka Genmai)
42 grams carbohydrates
3 grams protein
3 grams fiber
1/4 cup uncooked WHITE rice (by Rice Select™)
45 grams carbohydrates
3 grams protein
Not a significant source of dietary fiber or iron.
Research shows if you don’t take care of the “inner lining” of your blood vessels, you may be setting yourself up for heart disease or a stroke. Here are some important tips to improve how long and how well your arteries function.
The Relevance of “Endothelial Dysfunction”
The inner lining of your blood vessels is called the “endothelium”. Endothelial function declines with age and is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. When the lining fails to function optimally, it’s called “endothelial dysfunction” or ED. Think of a healthy endothelium as being smooth (think Teflon®) where nothing sticks to it.
ED refers to a spectrum of damaging changes that take place in the endothelium, such as the smooth inner lining becomes inflamed and “rough” (think sandpaper) from the constant assaults of substances like sodium, high blood sugar, and cortisol (stress hormone). When the endothelium becomes rough, arterial plaque* sticks to the artery wall (think spackling paste or putty).
*Plaque is fatty, waxy substance made up of materials, such as fat, cholesterol, calcium, waste products from cells, and fibrin (a clotting agent).
When Plaque Builds Up and Ruptures
As more plaque deposits build up, your artery narrows and reduces blood flow. This is known as “hardening of the arteries” or atherosclerosis. Plaque not only accumulates in the arteries, it can also rupture and create a blood clot at the ruptured area. Your body sees this rupture as an “injury” and rushes to repair it with platelets (or “thrombocytes”) to rapidly cover up the rupture and form a plug, or clot.
Platelets are very large colorless blood cells (think super glue). They help wounds heal and form blood clots to slow or stop bleeding by clumping and forming plugs in injured blood vessels.
When Plaque Breaks Away
Ruptured plaque can also break away and travel through the blood to other areas in your body and cause a blood clot. If the clot is big enough, it can block the flow of blood to arteries in various organs — e.g., lungs (pulmonary embolism), heart (heart attack), or brain (stroke).
Nearly sixty percent of men suffer from varicose veins, so it’s not a common problem for just women and grandmas. Young men are afflicted as well. Here’s how to keep your veins healthy, strong, and functional.
What are Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are gnarled, enlarged veins, most commonly appearing in the legs and feet, and they are visible under the surface of the skin. These ballooned veins develop a bluish/brown appearance, but they’re not just a cosmetic concern.
The Cause — It’s All About the Valves!
They occur when the valves in your veins do not work properly. Your blood is supposed to flow in ONE direction thanks to many one-way valves in your veins. Your veins have to return blood to your heart— that is, your blood has to flow “upstream”. Once it reaches the heart, it is routed to your lungs to reoxygenate.
Faulty valves cause blood to flow back into the vein and then enlarge and swell. Due to excess pressure on the valves, they get stretched and less elastic (flexible). Depending on the vein, you have 1-13 valves per vein.
These ballooned, gnarled veins are not just a cosmetic concern. These weak bulging vessels can rupture and bleed as well as cause swelling and throbbing (mild to moderate pain) which can cut into your daily activities. Worse yet, they can cause dangerous blood clots and skin ulcers (sores).
Legs feel heavy (especially after exercise or at night)
Researchers studied 55,000 adults aged 18 to 100 for over 15 years. They studied the following:
Whether they ran
How long they lived
Physicians recorded and analyzed the following:
Resting blood pressure
Body mass index (BMI)
Cardiorespiratory fitness (assessed using a maximal treadmill stress test)
Health behaviors (smoking, alcohol consumption, leisure-time physical activity)
Physician-diagnosed medical conditions
Parental history of cardiovascular disease
The study excluded analyses from individuals who reported participating in other activities besides running (e.g, cycling, swimming, walking, basketball, racquet sports, aerobic dance, and other sports-related activities).
The Results (Compared with Non-Runners):
Runners had a 30% lower risk of death from all causes .
Runners had a 45% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
Runners had a 50% lower risk of sudden cardiac death.
Cardiorespiratory fitness is a strong predictor of morbidity and mortality. (Morbidity is the condition of being unhealthy, ill, or diseased. Morbidity is the condition of being dead.) Runners had approximately 30% higher cardiorespiratory fitness than non-runners.
If You’re “Unhealthy”, Can You Still Benefit from Running?
One out of three adults has pre-diabetes, that’s, over 84 million people — and nine out of ten don’t even know they have it. Diabetes increases your risk of death by fifty percent. Many are familiar with the link between diabetes and eating too much refined sugar, but did you know there’s a diabetes link to potassium too?
The Battle with Blood Sugar
Your body processes the food you eat and turns it into a sugar called glucose. Diabetes is marked by high levels of glucose in your blood (hyperglycemia).This happens because glucose is ‘locked out’ from getting into your cells and starts to build up in your blood.
Blood sugar is a precious fuel for your body, but when it’s persistently high, glucose can damage nerves and vessels. Since glucose circulates throughout your entire body, high levels can cause damage anywhere.
Diabetes-related complications include:
Blood vessel damage that increases your risk of stroke and heart attack
Poor blood circulation
Nerve and vessel damage to your eyes (retinopathy), feet, and kidneys
What is Insulin?
Insulin (produced by the pancreas) is the hormone that’s needed for the glucose in your blood to enter your cells. Think of insulin as the ‘key’ that unlocks the cell door and lets glucose in. Without the ‘key’, your organs are starved of essential energy and can lead to cell death.
Types of Diabetes
The two most common forms of diabetes, known as Type 1 and Type 2, are distinctly different:
1. Type 1 diabetes mellitus: You DO NOT PRODUCE INSULIN and are unable to control the sugar in your blood. This form of diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells of your pancreas.
2. Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM): With this type, you DO NOT USE INSULIN efficiently and are unable to control the sugar in your blood.
90% of diabetes cases are type 2.
In T2DM, your cells become resistant to insulin. Your pancreas goes into overdrive producing more and more insulin in a futile attempt to get the glucose into your cells. As a result, your pancreas can eventually wear out (become permanently damaged) and can no longer produce enough insulin.
High blood sugar levels can erode your cells’ ability to make insulin. T2DM is preventable whereas Type 1 is not.
Waist Size and Diabetes
People who are overweight or obese, particularly with visceral fat (i.e., belly fat), are more likely to develop T2DM, but even normal weight individuals can develop diabetes.
If you’re a man and your waistline is over 40 inches, your risk for diabetes is 12 times higher than someone with a normal healthy size waist.
Normal waist size is half your height in inches. Therefore, weight loss is the primary goal in treating this form of type 2 diabetes.
What is Potassium?
Potassium is an electrolyte and mineral that helps keep your bodily fluids at the proper level.If your fluids are at normal levels, you can:
Contract your muscles without pain
Keep your heart beating correctly
Keep your brain functioning at its highest capability
Muscle cramps to more serious conditions, such as seizures, are symptoms of potassium deficiency which also means fluid imbalance.