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Columnist
Sprouted brown rice a healthy choice but so is regular brown rice
Ask the Nutrionist
By Karen Collins | Columnist
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Published: 6/16/2010 12:00 AM

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Q. Is sprouted brown rice really a healthier choice than regular brown rice?

A. Sprouted brown rice (also called germinated brown rice) is regular brown rice that has been soaked for 12 to 24 hours and allowed to germinate before it is cooked. Fans of the product say that it's less irritating to the digestive tract and less likely to promote allergic reactions than regular rice and believe that its nutrients are better absorbed.

However, all rice is generally considered a non-irritating food and is unlikely to produce allergic reactions in most people.

Rice is a good source of water-soluble B vitamins, and because the water in which the rice soaks is discarded, we might be concerned about loss of those nutrients. I can't find a complete nutrient analysis to see whether or not there is a significant loss.

Emerging research suggests that sprouted brown rice may contain compounds that promote blood sugar control. However, the studies showing an advantage for diabetes are generally comparing sprouted brown rice to refined white rice; there's usually no difference compared to regular brown rice.

Whether or not it's actually healthier than regular brown rice, some people prefer it simply for its softer texture and mild nutty flavor. People who have trouble making the move from white to brown rice may find the taste and texture of sprouted brown rice a good mid-point between the two.

Q. In order to turn my fat to muscle, should I focus on exercise or diet?

A. Fat and muscle are actually two completely separate tissues that can't turn into one another. So you are looking at two separate goals: losing excess body fat and increasing muscle.

You burn more calories when you include regular physical activity in your life than when you are sedentary, which helps maintain weight and can slowly lead to weight loss.

But the amount of physical activity that most people with excess body fat can work into their lives doesn't usually lead to as much weight loss as they hope. Work physical activity into your lifestyle if you haven't already, but you'll probably be more successful at weight loss if you also change eating habits to decrease calorie consumption: low-calorie drink and food choices, smaller portion sizes or some combination of these.

To build more muscle, it's important that you eat a healthy diet that provides enough protein and other nutrients and doesn't cut calories too low. However, diet alone can't build muscle. Regular physical activity, including strength-training two or three times a week, is the recipe for more muscle.

• Provided by the American Institute for Cancer Research. Learn more about the group and it's New American Plate program at aicr.org.