Brown food vs white food: Which one is the healthier option? – Firstpost

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When it comes to food, is brown better than white? Nature’s bounty provides us with foods that come in many colours, and of course, all of them have their own set of benefits. Some, however, are sure to do you more good than others.

You might have heard of the purple food movement, which celebrities like Mariah Carey promote. The brown food movement is something quite similar: It proposes that you should cut out white foods, and choose brown ones over them. The reason behind this is simply that brown-coloured ingredients cover more nutritional categories, and are deemed healthier than their white counterparts.

Brown food vs white food: Which one is the healthier option?

Representational image. Image source: Getty Images.

Brown is better

For example, take rice. White rice is full of carbohydrates, and eating it regularly will provide you with the ability to absorb more minerals and vitamins. But white rice, when eaten in excess, can lead to unnecessary weight gain. Brown rice, as a study published in the journal Antioxidants in 2018 mentions, is full of dietary fibre and phytochemicals and can help your body fight diabetes, high cholesterol and heart diseases. 

It’s the same with brown sugar. Compared to its white, refined version, brown sugar is more nutritious. Brown sugar, because of the addition of molasses in its manufacturing process, has calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium – while white sugar has none of these minerals. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 1985 explained how brown sugar has a huge nutritional impact on human diet, and another research published in Pharmacognosy Reviews in 2015 describes how this sugar variety can help treat jaundice and urinary diseases.

Which brown foods should you have?

Think about all the naturally brown foods available around you, and you will find that they are all healthier, and their consumption is supported by India’s traditional medicine as well. Here are 11 brown food items that you must include in your diet:

  1. Jaggery is recommended for its antioxidant qualities and can help you flush out toxins from your body while fighting signs of ageing, indigestion and liver damage as well. It also makes for a healthy dessert.
  2. Brown rice is rich in fibre and minerals and will keep your digestive system in order while helping you maintain a healthy weight. It’s a versatile ingredient you can use for every meal.
  3. Walnuts are great for your skin and hair health, and they can help you fight diabetes and heart diseases. Better snack on these instead of junk food to stay fit.
  4. Almonds can help you fight cholesterol, diabetes and they can prevent kidney stones as well. They also make for great snacks but don’t remove the skin as it is full of antioxidants.
  5. Chickpeas, which come in light brown kabuli chana and dark brown kala chana varieties, are a great source of protein and minerals. Make an evening snack or curry with them, or add them to your salads.
  6. Potatoes are brown, and they provide essential carbohydrates apart from being a rich source of vitamin B6. Of course, frying them won’t help your health at all – so cook them without oil or with very little oil.
  7. Dates have a high iron content and reduce the risk of anaemia and heart diseases. They’re full of natural sugars and you can opt for a few dates in place of dessert sometimes.
  8. Whole wheat flour or atta is a rich source of dietary fibre and minerals, any day a better option than maida or refined flour. Apart from making rotis and bread with it, you can also bake cakes with whole wheat flour.
  9. Flaxseeds provide healthy fats, antioxidants and dietary fibre, and are a part of almost every weight loss programme out there. Dry roast them and you can add them to salads, curries or just snack on them directly.
  10. Brown mushroom varieties like shiitake, porcini, morel, etc are chock full of protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants – and they are quite delicious too. There’s no dearth of dishes you can whip up with those, from curries to sandwiches and healthy pizzas.
  11. Brown spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin and star anise are exceptionally rich in antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits too. You can add minimal amounts of these spices to get a boost of flavour and health.

Here’s the downside of focusing too much on brown foods

While all these brown foods are bound to help you, it is important to note that foods that are naturally red, purple, orange, yellow or green also have immense health benefits. To ensure that you receive your daily requirements of nutrients, you need to explore all types of foods readily available in nature. 

What you need to keep in mind is your body’s type, and then figure out which foods you should have and which ones you should avoid. There are high chances that you will be recommended more brown foods by nutritionists, but when it comes to fruits, for example, you will have to explore more colours no matter how much you are committed to limiting yourself to just brown foods. 

For more on this topic, please read our articles on Healthy Foods.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

Updated Date: Jan 13, 2020 19:00:12 IST

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