A new meta-analysis from the Harvard School of Public Health shows that eating foods rich in magnesium could cut the risk of cardiovascular disease, the industrial world's greatest killer, by 30 percent.
The study of 313,041 individuals will be published in the July 2013 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Dr Dariush Mozaffarian, one of the study’s co-authors, described the link established between increased intake of magnesium and lower heart disease risk as “the most robust evidence yet.”
The Harvard scientists noted that their conclusions favor the consumption of magnesium rich foods like whole grains, legumes and vegetables although the researchers also suggested clinical trials to determine the effectiveness of magnesium supplements in combating heart disease. As the eighth most common element on earth, magnesium taken in pill form could prove to be an inexpensive cardiovascular therapy.
In 2004 researchers at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard school of Public health concluded that more magnesium in the diet could cut the risk of type 2 diabetes. Magnesium is also required for maintaining strong bones and healthy blood pressure.
People are at greater risk for magnesium deficiency as they age. Symptoms can include headaches, including migraines; leg cramps; muscle weakness; restless leg syndrome; and cardiac arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat.
Magnesium rich foods include pumpkin seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, broccoli, squash, soybeans, sesame seeds, halibut and black beans.
Brown rice is a whole, natural grain that is produced when its inedible husk is milled away. Brown rice has a subtle, nutty flavor. If the rice keeps getting ground down so that the bran and germ are removed, the result is white rice. This extra milling removes fiber, manganese, folate, zinc, vitamin B1, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, iron, phosphorus, the fatty acids, and 75 percent of the magnesium. In fact, rice bran is one of the richest sources of magnesium; 52 grams of rice bran supplies more than 100 percent of the daily recommended amount.
Milling rice to make it white so degrades its nutritional worth that small amounts of B vitamins and iron must be applied to the rice as a coating before it’s allowed to be sold in the US, but 11 nutrients, including magnesium, are not added back.
Brown rice has fewer calories and carbohydrates, with more nutrients than white rice. Because white rice has a higher glycemic index than brown rice it raises blood sugar levels more rapidly. According to a 2010 study at the Harvard School of Public Health, replacing 50 daily grams of white rice with brown rice would cut the risk of an individual developing type 2 diabetes by 16 percent.
Unfortunately in the United States more than 2/3 of the rice consumed is white rice. In some Asian cultures there’s a bias against brown rice because traditionally it’s been consumed by the poor. The only problem with brown rice is that it doesn’t store as well as white rice because brown rice still retains the essential oils in the germ, so brown rice can go rancid in a few months.
This is an easy to make dish that is nutritionally rich, tasty and low calorie. It serves four:
1 cup of brown rice
1 cup of brown lentils
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon of turmeric
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium onion, minced
¼ teaspoon of salt
Like beans lentils are legumes, so they are high in protein. They are also rich in iron, folate, phosphorus, manganese and thiamin while low in fat. The rice and beans also contain magnesium. Turmeric is a powerful anti oxidant that has been used as an anti inflammatory in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine. It's best known as one of the spices in curry. Garlic and onions have cancer fighting properties.
Brown lentils tend to retain their shape better than those of other colors. Rinse the lentils of any dirt picked up in harvesting. The brown rice has already been milled so it doesn’t have to be cleaned.
Place 4 cups 2 ounces of water in a large sauce pan with a tight fitting lid. Add all ingredients except for the egg. Boil, stir well, cover and then turn down the heat. Simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally while checking to make sure you're not burning your dish. When all the water is absorbed, fold in the egg. Yields a full cup each with 379 calories, with 18 grams of protein , 70 grams of carbohydrates and just 3 grams of fat per serving .
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Photo of heart exam by Amanda Mills courtesy of Public Health Image Library. Brown rice and lentils photos courtesy of photos-public-domain.com