Diet and Nutrition

Brown Rice and White Rice - Which Is Better?

Written by
Dr. Sneha Kannan
and medically reviewed by Dr. Sumiya Sulthana

Published on Nov 16, 2019   -  4 min read



Do you believe that brown rice is healthier and good for your health, unlike white rice? Read the article to know if brown rice is really a good substitute for white rice.

Brown Rice and White Rice - Which Is Better?


Brown rice is said to be natural, healthy, and a better choice if you want to lose weight and stay healthy. White rice, on the other hand, is said to be unhealthy, processed, and makes you gain weight and raises the blood sugar levels.If given a choice, most people would choose brown rice for its tremendous health benefits. But are all these claims being made about brown and white rice true?

Rice a staple food for many. It is available in several colors and sizes. While white rice is consumed by most, some people eat brown rice as it is said to be a healthier option. In this article, I have tried to compare the nutritional values, benefits, and myths about both rice, which will help you choose the best rice for you when you are out shopping next time.

How Are Brown and White Rice Different?

Anatomy of a grain

Rice is basically a seed comprising of different layers, which is what differentiates white from brown rice. Brown rice is whole grain and white is refined. And as a general rule, whole grain is considered healthier than refined food.

The parts of whole-grain rice (brown rice) are:

1) Bran - It is the outer layer of the grain. This layer contains fiber, vitamin B, antioxidants, minerals and phytochemicals (biologically active compounds found in plants).

2) Endosperm - It is the middle and the largest layer. This layer contains protein, carbohydrates, and fewer quantities of vitamins and minerals.

3) Germ - This layer is present at one end of the inner portion of the grain. It contains fats, vitamins E and B, antioxidants, and phytochemicals.

As white rice goes through refining and processing, it is stripped of everything except the endosperm. So all you get from eating white rice is carbohydrates, some protein, and fewer vitamins and minerals. The antioxidants, fiber, and phytochemicals are lost.

This clearly indicates that brown rice is what you should be eating. But is it true? Let us see further.

Which Is More Nutritious, Brown or White Rice?

Let us compare the nutritional values of both.

nutritional values of  brown and white rice

And the vitamins and minerals content are:

vitamins and minerals values of brown and white rice

As you can see, brown rice has better omega fatty acids, minerals, fiber, and vitamins content. But, rice is not the only source of these nutrients. If you consume a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, you would already consume the required fiber, omega fatty acids, minerals, and nutrients. Rice should not be the major source of these things.

What Are the Health Benefits of Brown Rice?

The health benefits are:

1) Helps control blood sugar levels - Brown rice is said to maintain blood sugar levels as it contains high amount of magnesium and fiber. Some studies showed that eating brown rice and other whole grains regularly reduces the risk of diabetes. In lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes by 31 %.

White rice, on the other hand, has been said to increase the risk of diabetes. The high glycemic index (GI) is to be blamed here. GI is the measure of how fast a certain food item raises blood sugar. GI of brown rice is 50 and that of white rice is 89. This shows that white rice increases blood sugar levels faster compared to brown rice.

2) Lowers the risk of heart disease - Brown rice protects against heart disease with the help of a compound called lignans. This compound is said to lower the amount of fat in the blood, decrease inflammation in the blood vessels, and lowers blood pressure.

A recent analysis of some studies found that the risk of heart disease was lowered by 16 to 21 % in people who ate whole grains more.

3) Improves cholesterol levels - Brown rice and whole grains, if consumed regularly, helps lower total cholesterol levels. It also reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol and increases HDL (good) cholesterol.

4) Antioxidants - The outer surface of the brown rice (bran) is rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are good for your health, as it reduces the free radicals in the body and prevents damage caused by oxidation. High levels of antioxidant levels help prevent chronic diseases like cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

Many studies showed that white rice decreases blood antioxidant levels in type 2 diabetic patients.

5) Weight management - Brown rice helps reduce weight, BMI (body mass index) in obese individuals, and body circumference.

What Are the Side Effects of Eating Brown Rice?

Phytic acid - Brown rice contains phytic acid, which is an antinutrient. It prevents the absorptions of some nutrients in the body. Phytic acid reduces the body's ability to absorb iron and zinc from the diet you eat. This might lead to certain mineral deficiencies if brown rice is consumed for longer periods. You can prevent this by including various food items in your diet rather than relying entirely on white or brown rice.

Arsenic - Arsenic is a heavy metal and a toxic chemical naturally found in the environment. Due to pollution, it is found in fish, water, and other seafood. Significant amounts of arsenic have also been found in rice. Consumption arsenic increases the risk of chronic diseases.

White rice has a lesser amount of arsenic than brown rice. To prevent the effect of arsenic, soak brown rice for 3 hours and discard the water before cooking it. And cook rice in more water and drain excess water after the rice is cooked.

Now you know the benefits and side effects of eating brown rice. This information will be helpful in making the right choice. For more information, consult a nutritionist online.

Last reviewed at:
16 Nov 2019  -  4 min read




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