Brown rice is healthier than white rice. As a whole grain, brown rice contains more nutrients and has a lower glycemic index.
However, no food is entirely good or entirely bad. Moderation is key. You do not need to eliminate white rice completely.. You can include various types of food in your diet while ensuring that you meet your nutritional requirements.
As far as calories are concerned, both white and brown rice are quite similar (about 365 calories in 100 grams of raw rice). Nevertheless, your nutrition is not confined to a mere caloric comparison.
What are the benefits of brown rice?
Brown rice is a whole grain, meaning that it contains the entire grain kernel, including the bran or the outer fibrous covering. Because brown rice is not milled, it has superior nutritional benefits to refined or white rice.
The brown rice kernel has three edible parts: outermost part or bran, middle part or germ, and innermost part or endosperm.
- Benefits of bran: Rich in fiber and nutrients such as B vitamins, zinc, iron, copper, magnesium, antioxidants, and other phytonutrients.
- Benefits of germ: Contains B vitamins, healthy fats, protein, vitamin E, antioxidants, and minerals.
- Benefits of endosperm: Contains carbohydrates, proteins, and small amounts of minerals and B vitamins.
Brown rice has a low glycemic index (about 55), which means it does not cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, making it suitable for people with diabetes. The high fiber content of brown rice also helps you stay full for longer, helping with weight management as well.
Health benefits of brown rice include:
- Lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack and stroke
- Promotes bowel health
- Manages blood cholesterol levels
- Regulates blood pressure
- Aids digestion and prevent constipation
- Maintains healthy weight
- Boosts immunity
- Promotes skin health
- Manages/lowers the risk of type II diabetes
- Helps reduce chronic inflammation
- May lower the risk of certain cancers
What are the side effects of brown rice?
Although brown rice is quite healthy due to its high fiber content, it may not be suitable for people suffering from health conditions where a fiber-restricted diet is advised, such as irritable bowel syndrome. Some people develop gas and abdominal discomfort by consuming high-fiber foods.
Brown rice tends to have a much higher arsenic content than white rice. Arsenic is a toxic element that accumulates in the outer layers (germ and bran) of brown rice. These layers are removed in the process of making white rice, which contains about 80% lower arsenic than the same variety of brown rice. Though the arsenic concentration in brown rice is generally not high enough to cause toxicity, pregnant women are advised to limit brown rice consumption.
What are the benefits of white rice?
White rice cooks faster than brown rice and has a neutral taste that is liked by most people. It has less fiber than brown rice, making it suitable for people with sensitive stomachs.
The lower arsenic content of white rice makes it safe for everyone, including pregnant women. Enriched white rice contains several nutrients, such as folic acid, which is particularly beneficial for pregnant women.
What are the side effects of white rice?
Because the outer layers of the grains are removed in its manufacturing, white rice is nutritionally inferior to brown rice. Even fortified white rice may not restore all the nutrients lost during processing.
White rice has a higher glycemic index, making it unsuitable for people with diabetes. The low fiber content of white rice is another disadvantage because it does not keep you full for long. Several studies suggest that white rice consumption is associated with a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.
Takeaway: brown rice vs. white rice
Brown rice is undoubtedly better than white rice in terms of nutritional content. However, this does not mean that moderate white rice consumption will ruin your health.
If you prefer eating white rice, try to meet your daily fiber requirement by eating plenty of vegetables and fruits. You can also include other fiber-rich grains in your diet, such as quinoa, oats, and amaranth.
Brown rice alone cannot make you lose weight, and white rice alone won’t make you gain weight. For optimal health, keep track of your calorie consumption, stay physically active, and eat a balanced diet with a variety of foods (whole grains, nuts, seeds, poultry, seafood, vegetables, and fruits).
Nutrition and Healthy Eating Resources
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Cleveland Clinic. Brown Rice or White Rice: Which Is Your Healthier Option? https://health.clevelandclinic.org/brown-rice-or-white-rice-which-is-your-healthier-option/
Harvard T. H. Chan. Rice. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/rice/
Consumer Reports. How much arsenic is in your rice? https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2015/01/how-much-arsenic-is-in-your-rice/index.htm