(NaturalHealth365) During the 1980s and 1990s, rice cakes became a popular diet food as it was low in fat and calories. Dieters felt less guilty by trading their 200 calorie cookie in for a 60 calorie rice cake. After all, they didn’t have to give up snacking and still lose weight.
While these low calorie snacks were a ‘godsend’ to many dieters of the 1990s, dieters began opting for healthier diet foods in the 21st century. With genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on the rise, consumers were not only looking for low fat and low calorie snacks. Instead, they were opting for purer ingredients and began opting for “organic” choices. Naturally, finding organic rice cakes was a dream come true for most dieters.
The toxic story behind organic rice cakes
Brands like Lundberg Family Farms, Van Rice Products (Plum•M•Good), and PureHarvest offer organic rice cakes to consumers. And, while many brands stamp “organic” on their packaging, only Lundberg offers “USDA Certified Organic.” But, even with certified organic rice cakes, consumers should beware.
These organic snacks actually have little to offer dieters or anyone who enjoys them as snacks. In fact, they have little nutrition value to offer and are purely empty calories. More than that, they contain arsenic – which places your health at risk for chronic disease.
Empty calories to help you gain weight, not health
Rice cakes (organic or not) may be low in calories, but they are also “empty” calories. Take a look at any package ingredient label for rice cakes, and you’ll find a whole lot of nothing. There is no protein, no fat, no fiber, and barely any vitamins and minerals. If anything, they do contain a tiny bit of iron and some manganese.
In reality, this seemingly popular snack is very imbalanced as a healthy diet food.
The simple carbohydrates in organic rice cakes actually spike food cravings. While some ingredients may be organic, they are still a refined snack that is basically sprinkled with salt and spices and sprayed with artificial flavoring. Not the best food to help balance blood sugar levels – which is the keep to avoiding food cravings.
According to Harvard Medical School, an average sized rice cake (25 grams) has a glycemic index of 82. The glycemic index is a system that ranks foods on a scale of 1 to 100 based on their effect on blood sugar levels. Foods given higher values cause the most rapid rise in blood sugar.
As a reference point, pure glucose has a value of 100. So, as you can see, rice cakes rank pretty high at 82.
High blood sugar levels alter brain function
A recent study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that high glycemic carbohydrates – like rice cakes – do affect the brain in a way that may lead to overeating. In the study, 12 overweight or obese men aged 18 to 35 were fed two meals controlled for calories, macronutrients, and palatability on two occasions.
However, one meal was made with high glycemic carbs and the other with low glycemic carbs. It turned out that the high glycemic meal decreased plasma glucose, increased hunger, and selectively stimulated brain regions associated with reward and craving. Many other studies confirm the same outcome in their experiments when it comes to glycemic index.
Children advised by the FDA not to consume rice cakes due to arsenic
Since 2011, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been testing products with arsenic much more carefully due to its increased poisoning. Rice and rice products are included, and testing has proven samples to contain above levels of arsenic.
Arsenic is a natural semi-metallic element that can be found in rocks, soil, water, air, and plants. In some areas of the world, natural arsenic levels can be difficult to detect as it has no flavor or odor.
But, no doubt, eating foods with high levels can be extremely dangerous and can cause major health complications such as cancer (skin, lung, bladder, kidney, liver, prostate), diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. It can even cause reproductive problems and compromise the immune system.
While the FDA states that the levels are arsenic will not affect human health in the short-term, they are still testing the effects for long-term health. Therefore, they have warned that children, Asian-Americans, and those with Celiac disease should limit their intake of rice products.
Our future depends on intelligent food choices today
Consumer Reports state that they believe children are much more vulnerable to the levels found in rice and rice products. After all, children are much smaller and therefore arsenic levels are higher for them. Check out this video – below:
So, how many rice cakes pose arsenic risk? Only one to three per week! And, don’t rely on organic rice cakes either. Consumer Reports states “organic rice takes up arsenic the same way conventional rices do.”
Bottom line: Organic rice cakes proven to not to be a healthy diet food. All around, rice cakes pose a threat to human health. If they don’t contain arsenic, they are still dangerous to blood sugar levels and don’t provide any nutrition. This makes them an unhealthy diet food. Instead, choose organic snacks that are natural sources that include vegetables, fruits, and nuts.
About the author: Abby Campbell is a medical, health, and nutrition research writer. She’s dedicated to helping people live a healthy lifestyle in all aspects – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Abby practices, writes, and coaches on natural preventive care, nutritional medicine, and complementary and alternative therapy.
Sources for this article include:
Food & Nutrition
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