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Does Brown Rice Raise Triglycerides?

by
author image Jan Sheehan
Jan Sheehan is an award-winning medical and nutrition writer, having entered journalism in 1992. She is a former contributing editor for "Parents" magazine. She has also written nutrition articles for "Self," "Fitness," "Ladies' Home Journal," "Health" and other magazines. Sheehan has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Purdue University.
Does Brown Rice Raise Triglycerides?
A close-up of brown rice in a bowl. Photo Credit chorboon_photo/iStock/Getty Images

Some carbohydrates raise triglycerides, but brown rice has the opposite effect. The American Heart Association, or AHA, recommends eating brown rice and avoiding refined grains, such as white rice. Adding brown rice to your diet can lower your triglycerides and your weight.

Triglycerides

Triglycerides are a type of fat in the blood. High triglycerides have been linked to hardening of the arteries, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke, according to Medline Plus, a service of the National Institutes of Health. Excess calories are converted into triglycerides and stored as fat until they’re needed for energy. A diet very high in carbohydrates is one culprit when triglycerides are high. The Mayo Clinic notes that sugars and simple carbohydrates, like white rice, can raise triglycerides. Complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice, won't raise your triglycerides as much.

Brown Rice

Brown rice is a whole grain, which means its outer shell hasn’t been removed in processing. Whole grains are healthier than refined grains because the whole grain contains vitamins, iron and dietary fiber. These nutrients are removed during the processing of refined grains. According to the AHA, refined grains are often enriched with B vitamins and iron -- but not fiber -- after processing. Fiber-rich whole grains, such as brown rice, will help you feel full without high calories, reducing hunger and helping you maintain a healthy weight.

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Effects

The Cleveland Clinic indicates that eating brown rice, while limiting white rice and other refined grains, will help control your triglycerides. Eating the right foods can start to lower your triglycerides within a few days, reports the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. Even if you don’t have high triglycerides, eating too many refined grains and foods with added sugar may affect your triglycerides, the AHA reports. Fiber-rich whole grains, such as brown rice, also help lower your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. In a 2011 Northwestern University study, young and middle-aged adults who ate a high-fiber diet had a lower lifetime risk of heart disease than low-fiber eaters.

Recommendations

To reduce your triglycerides, the Cleveland Clinic recommends a healthy diet that includes moderate amounts of whole grains, such as brown rice. If your triglycerides are 150 mg/dl or higher, avoid succumbing to the couch. Regular exercise, such as brisk walking, can lower your triglycerides. The AHA recommends getting 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise five or more days a week. Combining exercise with diet changes is recommended. The bottom line is that brown rice won’t raise your triglycerides. In fact, this nutritious grain can keep your triglycerides in a healthy range, protecting you from heart disease.

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