Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Staple food - A Blessing or a Disaster?

by Bun 0 comments

Some Food for my thoughts.

Throughout Human civilization, food is a problem, it was never easy to obtain. It's difficult to find food that lasts for prolonged storage. That was the problem, until several vital crops species were discovered. These species not only gives plenty of energy, they're easy to grow and also can be stored for much longer periods of time.

Rice cultivation. Picture from Tree Hugger

Throughout different nations and cultures, certain food are grown in huge quantity and are eaten as the main energy source. These foods are sure to be present in every meal and are known as Staple food.

Staple or Stapled?
In my culture, Rice is our staple, elsewhere in the world you'd find people eating Bread, Potatoes and all kinds of products made from these staple crops. I'm respectful for these food because without them, we would never have enough food to support the enormous population that we have now(about 7 billion).

These very same food that supported our large population have also seemed to been stapled and embedded into our diet. Here in my country, the older generations thinks that one would die without eating Rice. Staple food are excellent sources of energy but many of these foods are sadly, very poor in nutrients, especially after processing. Let's take a look at rice processing.

Milling is the removal of husk and bran of the rice. The husks are not pleasant to be eaten while the bran have oil that can turn bad easily. These two parts of the rice are removed for economic reasons and yet in truth, they're provide the gist of Micro-nutrients in rice, just like the skin of the Apple is.

On the list we can only see Calcium and the rest below it are Vitamin B's. I believe there are much more nutrient loss than that but from here you can already see the impact that processing does. And don't forget the loss of Micro-nutrients from our processing such as storage, washing and cooking!

Glycemic Index of various Staple food
Now let's take a look at the GI of several major staple food.

White rice, boiled - 73±4 (High)
White wheat bread - 75±2 (High)
Whole wheat/whole meal bread - 74±2 (High)
Potato, boiled - 78±4 (High)
Potato, Baked - 98 (Everest High)
Corn tortilla - 46±4 (low)
Spaghetti, white - 49±2 (low)
*taken from mendosa.com, please visit him, great dude!

High GI foods are those with value 70 and above
Medium GI foods are those between 56~69
Low GI foods are those below 55

(Notice the difference in GI difference that 'wholemeal' bread makes! Not much.)

Not as bad as you expected?
Take a look at the GI of Table Sugar, the ones found in sweets, cakes, coke and everywhere.
Sucrose(Table Sugar) - 65±4

So much for the Complex Carbohydrate. These staples are the culprits that are spiking our blood sugars. It's good if you're not eating them but if you are, please be aware. Not all staples are bad, you just have to pick the right one, like spaghetti, I eat spaghetti often.

What's the plan?
Remember, it's not only about the GI factor but also lack of Vitamins and Mineral contents of many of these foods.I'm not against staple food, I've grown up eating them until recently. What I propose is not to eliminate but rather, replace some of these energy source with nutrient dense ones, such as fruits and vegetables. Eat a little less rice, take in a little more vegetables or skip that potato, eat a fruit afterwards.

Every little step counts to a healthy living.

Comments 0 comments

Teck Bun
Former Obese. Diagnosed with Type II Diabetes in 2003. Weighing 100kg in my glory days, 30kg less now.
More about me here

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