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Which grains should you choose in your bowls?

Grain bowls are guilt-free fast food for the health-conscious. But what sets the different bases apart?

HOE I YUNE on 07 Jan 2019

The New Paper


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If you want low-carb, this is it - cauliflower florets are pulsed in a food processor until they've broken down into tiny granules resembling rice.


This is an excellent source of vitamin C (thought to protect against immune system deficiencies), vitamin K (which regulates normal blood clotting) and folate (which helps in red blood cell formation).


"Cauliflower rice contains a high level of antioxidant phytochemicals, which could protect against development of cancer in its early stages," said Yishun Community Hospital's principal dietitian Chan Sue Mei.


Cauliflower also helps reduce the body's oxidative stress, which is stress as a result of exposure to toxins like cigarette smoke and too much alcohol.




A gluten-free staple, quinoa is a seed - not actually a grain. The selling point? Being high in protein and a great source of zinc, copper and magnesium - all of which are great for bone health.


Ms Chan said: "Quinoa also contains relatively high levels of flavonoids, a type of antioxidant which can protect against chronic diseases."




You should always choose one of these options over white rice.


According to Ms Bonnie Lau, lead dietitian at digital health company Holmusk, these contain almost five times more fibre as well as more vitamins and minerals - which usually gets stripped away in the processing of white rice.


Red rice also has antioxidants called anthocyanins - found in some fruits and vegetables - thought to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline and cancer, said Ms Chan.


Brown rice, she added, has niacin (commonly known as vitamin B3), which is often used to treat anxiety.




Most people like barley for its softer texture and malty taste - and when added to a soup dish, it gives it a velvety and silky feel, with some bite. Barley has more fibre than brown rice and quinoa, and is also a good source of iron, niacin and vitamin B6.




Soba is made from a mix of buckwheat flour and white flour. Buckwheat is a good source of manganese and magnesium, said Ms Lau. Manganese is for better bone health, glucose metabolism and wound healing, while magnesium maintains muscle and nerve functions and keeps the heart's rhythm steady.


Source: The New Paper © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.


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