Ask the Experts: Grains and Gun Safety

Ask the Experts: Grains and Gun Safety

From the food you eat to external factors that could endanger your children, there are steps you can take to lower risks for your family.

Q: I love rice but I am afraid it’s not so good for me—kind of the white bread of grains, my wife tells me. What’s the real story? —George G., Monroe, LA

A: She’s mostly right, George. Amarath, barley, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgar, corn, faro, freekeh, millet, oats, quinoa (really a grass), rye, sorghum, spelt, teff, triticale, wheat and wild rice. Those are all whole grains, and what they all have in common is that they retain the highly fibrous and nutrition-packed parts of the grain—bran, germ and endosperm. White rice (as well as white bread and standard pastas) retains only the starchy endosperm, making it nutrition-poor and much more likely to spike your blood sugar and contribute to weight gain.

But not all whole grains are created equal. For example, 1.5 ounces of freekeh has 6 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein; quinoa has 3 and 5.5, respectively. And a review of 45 studies on whole grains found that neither white nor brown rice reduced your risk of stroke, heart disease or cancer—unlike the heart-protective powers of 100 percent whole wheat.

That said, brown rice is healthier for you than white rice—it delivers fiber, thiamine, B6, vitamin E, protein, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium and manganese—and a meta-analysis of 16 studies found a 32 percent reduction in the risk for type 2 diabetes from eating three servings of whole grain, including brown rice, daily.

The bottom line: If you’re eating rice, make it brown rice. But don’t make it your main grain. Experiment with the flavors of those freekeh and not-so-freaky grains listed up top—and check out The Super Grains You Should Be Eating at

Q: The amount of gun violence in this country gets more frightening every day. And young children are frequently victims! What’s going on and what can we do about it? —Jayne G., Lincoln, NE

A: One of the latest heartbreaking tales of the death of a child from firearms is, as of this writing, about a three-year-old boy in Indiana who found a loaded semiautomatic rifle and shot himself in the face. That comes two weeks after a two-year-old boy in Louisiana grabbed a gun from a kitchen counter and killed himself.

Every year from 2002 to 2014, nearly 1,300 children up to age 17 died, while 5,790 were treated for gunshot wounds, according to a study in the journal Pediatrics. And from 2014 to 2015, Stanford University researchers say there were 2,715 pediatric firearm fatalities. A new Johns Hopkins study says the cost exceeds $270 million annually for ER and hospital treatment of youngsters who’ve been shot.

How does this happen?
A study presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics 2018 National Conference found around one in three children live in homes with a firearm. And only 34 percent of parents stored their gun locked, unloaded and separate from ammunition.

On top of that, parents often fail to ask about firearm storage in homes where their children spend time. (Both the two- and three-year-old who shot themselves were not at home.)

In addition, most parents assume kids can tell the difference between a toy gun and a real one. But researchers from Emory University School of Medicine say in their test, only 41 percent of children, ages 7 to 17, identified both correctly.

What can be done?

  • Establish responsible gun laws. Stanford Medical School researchers found there are twice as many pediatric firearm deaths in states with the most lenient gun regulations compared with states where gun laws are strictest.
  • Lock guns away and secure ammunition separately.
  • Parents, always inquire if there’s a gun where your child will be spending time and how it’s secured. If it’s not secured, politely get your kid and leave.
  • If you are part of the 66 percent of Americans who favor stricter gun-safety legislation, let your representatives know.
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