Hooray for Chipotle Mexican Grill

Every time I walk into our beloved, local Chipotle Mexican Grill, I glare into the server’s eyes as if she has the power to make lasting changes to their menu selection. Uncontrollable words fly out of my mouth that sound something like, “When are we going to see some brown rice around here?” I can always count on her best blank look as a predictable response to my interrogation. This behavior has gone on for several years that I can remember. My three kids roll their mortified, adolescent eyes, convinced that their mom is the creepiest food Nazi they know. I ignore them once again and carry on with my mission…changing the world one person at a time.

Last week I walked into my favorite Chipotle Mexican Grill and what do you know? I saw brown rice in the serving line up! Hallelujah!!! There is hope for humanity. What is the big deal about brown rice and why have health conscious food lovers who frequent Chipotle been asking for it?

The difference between brown rice and white rice has been taking on global importance in recent years. Food researchers and the scientific community understand the nutritional value of brown rice. However, white rice seems to be replacing brown rice as the rice of choice among most of the world’s population, especially in poorer countries where much of the nutritional foundation is based on cheaper, more easily obtained and distributed grains. This is causing a considerable number of health issues that are difficult to manage from a global public health standpoint. The current movement is bringing us back to whole grains like brown rice.

Brown rice is one of the healthiest cereal grains for more than half the world’s population. This variety retains most of its outer layers of nutrition, increasing its supply of minerals such as magnesium and selenium, as well as a whole lot of fiber.

One cup of brown rice provides about 265 mg of magnesium, an important mineral that facilitates the activities of more than 300 enzymes in the body. Benefits of magnesium include the facilitation of the secretion of glucose and insulin, increased heart health, regulation of blood pressure, and balancing the calming effects that calcium has on muscles and the nervous system.

One cup of brown rice provides approximately 45 mg of selenium in the diet. Selenium rich foods are shown to help reduce the risk of colon cancer. Selenium also plays a vital role in metabolism, hormonal, antioxidant and immune functions through DNA repair in damaged cells.

The fiber advantages alone by switching from white rice to brown rice makes it all worth the trouble and possible expense, but you won’t pay more money for a brown rice burrito bowl at Chipotle. We need 40-50 Grams of fiber every day. Most Americans who eat the Standard American Diet (SAD) are only getting 20 Gm on a really good, high fiber day. It’s no wonder constipation plagues many desperate people from behind closed bathroom doors. Half the constipation sufferers don’t even know they’re constipated! That’s a topic for another blog!

When the food industry creates a grain of white rice, it strips away the outer layers of the rice, taking with it the fiber and much of the nutrition. The poor rice is left standing alone in a pool of simple sugars, turning the grain into a simple carbohydrate instead of a complex carbohydrate. Some areas are trying to compensate for this nutritional blunder by adding a multivitamin back into the grain. This is similar to the difference between a whole grain sprouted bread and Wonder Bread. Are you starting to see the big picture?

Fiber is one of the most important nutrients for overall good health. Fiber helps to reduce cholesterol levels that creep up when we eat too many animals, including their eggs and their body fluids. Fiber helps to prevent the build up of plaque in the arteries, improves cardiovascular health, regulates blood sugar levels, and helps to rid the digestive tract of toxins and carcinogens, lowering the risk of cancer. Need I continue? A high fiber colon is a happy colon. A happy colon is a happy life…

So, you might be asking yourself what the point of this blog is. Here is the public health tip for the day: Each and every one of us is a powerful consumer. As long as we keep spending money, we can change the world. Don’t ever be afraid to ask your grocer to carry your favorite healthy brand of pasta. Approach the administrator of your child’s school and ask how you can help create healthier snacks and lunches for the kids. Recommend to your restauranteer healthy changes you would like to see, even if it makes you feel stupid when your kids roll their eyes at you. Finally, never, ever give up. It took three years of me staring down the poor Chipotle server and asking her 237 times to get brown rice in there before I saw it magically appear. Not only did my local Chipotle start carrying the brown rice, but the entire corporate chain made the switch. Consumer consciousness and public pressure with our wallets are what make the world go around.

The closing quote for the day: “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”  Mother Teresa