Posted by on March 24, 2012 - 4:45pm


Eating more white rice may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, especially for Asian populations, Qi Sun, PhD, of Harvard and colleagues reported in the British Medical Journal.  Patients who ate the greatest amounts of the grain had a 27% greater risk of developing the disease than those who ate the least, and the relative risk was higher among Asian patients.

"Although rice has been a staple food in Asian populations for thousands of years, this transition [to more sedentary lifestyles and greater availability of food] may render Asian populations more susceptible to the adverse effects of high intakes of white rice, as well as other sources of refined carbohydrates, such as pastries, white bread, and sugar sweetened beverages," they wrote.

The glycemic index of white rice is higher than that of other whole grains, largely due to processing. It's also the primary contributor to dietary glycemic load for populations that consume rice as a staple food, such as Asians.   Sun and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of four prospective cohort analyses in Asian and Western populations, totaling 352,384 patients with follow-up ranging from 4 to 22 years.

Overall, Sun and colleagues found a positive association between white rice intake and type 2 diabetes, which was stronger in Asian populations.   Asians with the highest intake had a 55% greater risk of diabetes than Asian patients who ate the least rice.   The risk was also heightened in Western populations, but the confidence interval was not significant..

In secondary analyses, the association appeared to be more pronounced in women than in men, they added.

They cautioned, however, that the meta-analysis was limited by the observational nature of the included studies and by their reliance on food frequency questionnaires to assess dietary intake. Also, they did not analyze consumption of brown rice, since only one of the four studies examined this food.

In an accompanying editorial, Bruce Neal, MD, of the University of Sydney in Australia, cautioned that the "interpretation of the observed association, and, in particular, determination of the likelihood of causality, are problematic."   Neal warned that the highest and lowest levels of rice intake varied greatly between studies, and that what's really needed is a "more sophisticated analysis based on primary rather than summary data."    Hopefully, we will have better research tools in the future to better assess dietary factors.


Hu EA, et al "White rice consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: meta-analysis and systematic review" BMJ 2012; DOI: 10.1136/bmj.e1454.
Neal B "White rice and risk of type 2 diabetes" BMJ 2012; DOI: 10.1136/bmj.e2021.

Posted by on April 14, 2011 - 2:44pm

We all keep hearing that we need to eat more whole grains, but does everyone know what they are?   It's pretty obvious they are NOT that swishy white bread that we used to make dough balls out of when we were kids (to use for bait while fishing!).    Whole grains are cereal grains that consist of the intact, ground, cracked or flaked kernel, which includes the bran, the germ and the inner most part of the kernel (endosperm).  Examples of whole grains include whole wheat, oatmeal, whole-grain cornmeal, brown rice, whole-grain barley, whole rye, and buckwheat.

When checking the ingredient list, it is best if they list the whole grain first on the list (usually the most abundant of the ingredients).  The general recommendation is to have have three one-ounce equivalents of whole grains daily to help reduce the risk of chronic disease such as heart disease and cancer.

Examples of a one ounce equivalent are:

  • 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup cooked 100% whole-grain pasta
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice or whole-grain barley
  • 1 regular slice of 100% whole-grain breast
  • 1 cup of whole-grain ready-to-eat cereal (flakes or rounds) or 1 1/4 cup puffed.
Posted by on November 23, 2010 - 2:09pm

November is the busiest month of the year for the US Department of Agriculture Meat & Poultry Hotline. During the week of Thanksgiving(November 25), they get lots of questions about how to safely cook a turkey. Here are answers to some of the more common questions.

How can I tell when the turkey is done?

Whether you roast, brine, deep fry or smoke your turkey, always use a food thermometer to check the temperature of the meat. You won’t overcook your turkey, and you can ensure it has been cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F to destroy bacteria and prevent foodborne illness. Check the temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. If the turkey is stuffed, the stuffing must also reach 165 °F.

How long does it take to cook a turkey?

Use the Turkey Roasting Chart to determine how long to cook your turkey. These times are approximate and based on fresh or thawed birds at a refrigerator temperature of 40 °F or below.

Is it safe to cook a turkey from the frozen state?

Yes, the cooking time will take at least 50 percent longer than recommended for a fully thawed turkey. Remember to remove the giblet package before cooking your turkey (there are a lot of funny stories about first time turkey cookers who forget to do this!). Remove the giblets carefully with tongs or a fork and use the giblets for the gravy or dressing per your favorite recipe.

Can I cook two turkeys at the same time?

Cooking two turkeys of about the same weight does not double the roasting time. Cooking time is determined by the weight of one bird. Just make sure there is sufficient oven space for proper heat circulation.

What about storing leftovers?

Bacteria spread fastest at temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F, so chilling food safely reduces the risk of foodborne illness. Discard any turkey, stuffing, and gravy left out at room temperature longer than 2 hours. Divide leftovers into smaller portions. Refrigerate or freeze in covered shallow containers for quicker cooling.
Use refrigerated turkey, stuffing, and gravy within 3 to 4 days or freeze it. Use frozen turkey and stuffing leftovers within 2 to 6 months for best quality. Reheat to 165 °F or until hot and steaming. Gravy should come to a rolling boil.

Can I call the Meat & Poultry Hotline on Thanksgiving Day?

Yes! The Hotline will be staffed from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern Time on Thanksgiving Day. Call toll-free at 1-888-674-6854. (Our usual hours are Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Eastern Time.) You can also ask a question in English or Spanish at, available 24 hours a day

Posted by on September 28, 2010 - 8:58am

Did you know that perishable food carried in an old-fashioned brown bag can be unsafe to eat by lunchtime?  Now that children and teens are back in school, it may be a good idea to take a look at how you are packing your kids' lunches.  Most food experts recommend that an insulated lunch box is the best way to keep their lunches safe.   Insulated boxes help maintain food at a safe temperature until lunchtime.   Perishable foods such as cold cut sandwiches and yogurt , can be left out at room temperature for only 2 hours before they may become unsafe to eat.   But with an insulated box and a chilled freezer gel pack , perishable food can stay cold and safe to eat until lunch.  These suggestion also apply to mom and dad who bring their lunches to work.    However, in many cases, parents have access to refrigerators at work, something the kids don't have.

Other safety tips:

Clean Hands: Wash your hands before preparing lunches, and remind  your children to wash their hands before eating.

Freeze your juice box:  When frozen they can be used as freezer packs.   By lunchtime, the juice should be thawed and ready to drink.

Hot Foods:  To keep hot foods hot, use an insulated thermos bottle.

Non-perishable Foods:   Lunch items that don't need to be refrigerated include whole fruits and vegetables, hard cheese, canned meat and fish, chips, bread,  peanut butter, jelly, pickles and mustard,