We all know of those friends and family members who are proud of themselves for switching to brown rice either because they want to lose a few pounds or get healthier or both. First of all, good for them. Whatever works, right? Find more about a comparison of brown rice vs white rice.
- Brown Rice Vs White Rice
- Brown Rice Vs White Rice: Nutritionally Speaking
- Benefits Of White Rice
- Benefits Of Brown Rice
- Good For Blood Sugar
- The Bottom Line
Brown Rice Vs White Rice
But that has undoubtedly made all of us curious enough to learn if brown rice is really all that much better than white rice. You’re not the only one with this query. So, we decided to check it out and answer the question for you.
The Basics About White Rice
Let’s get started with white rice. In its current form, this is a highly processed food item. So, if you are careful about avoiding processed grains, you should be wary of white rice. Having said that, here’s what you need to know about grains.
If a grain has bran, endosperm and germ it is called a whole grain. The bran is the skin outside the kernel and it has vitamins, antioxidants and fiber. It also has essential minerals, protein and some good fats. The endosperm has carbs, vitamins, minerals and protein.
Processed white rice, which is all of it, does not have germ and bran which does not have a lot of nutrition. That means when you are eating out, you don’t consume a lot of fiber and not so many minerals and vitamins either.
But that’s only in its raw form and in comparison to brown rice because in the US, iron, folate and vitamin B1 are added to white rice which makes it a better choice.
With white rice, there is also an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart diseases when you consume white rice. But there’s a lot of good stuff about white rice too. We’ll get to that in a minute.
What’s The Fuss About Brown Rice?
Compared to brown rice, white rice does not have extra benefits like fiber, protein, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. Brown rice also makes sure that you feel full for a longer period of time which means you will consume fewer calories. And brown rice is also good for the bacteria in your gut.
Unlike white rice, it is better for those who are trying to avoid the risk of type 2 diabetes because its glycemic index is lower. It also brings down glucose levels and insulin resistance which makes it a preferred choice among those who are trying to lose weight.
That’s why those rice-eating friends and family members of ours are eager to switch to white rice.
Brown Rice Vs White Rice: Nutritionally Speaking
In terms of the nutrients they provide, white and brown rice vary quite a bit. Now, a lot of this depends on the manufacturer which is why you must read the nutritional content table on the pack just like you should with every other food item. But generally speaking, this is what you are looking at.
Brown rice comes with quite a bit of magnesium. In half a cup of brown rice, you are likely to find about 11 percent magnesium recommended for you on a daily basis. Magnesium is good for you because it helps with:
- Muscle contractions
- Cell production
- Blood coagulation
- Bone development
There are vital bodily functions and everyone needs an average of 270-400 mg of magnesium every day. The specific amount recommended for you on a daily basis depends on your age and sex. But pregnant or breastfeeding women need more than others. And brown rice has four times the amount of magnesium than white rice.
Brown rice also has 1-3 g more fiber compared to white rice. Fiber is known best for its ability to help you poop but it helps your body perform a few other important functions.
- Makes you feel full and helps manage weight
- Lowers cholesterol levels
- Nourishes gut bacteria
- Good for your heart health
- Control blood sugar which helps avoid diabetes
Like with magnesium, the specifics of daily fiber intake also depend on factors like age and your daily calorie consumption. But on average, men under 50 years of age should consume about 40 grams every day and those who are older should get at least 30 grams. Women who are under 50 years of age should take 25 grams a day and those who are older must get 21 grams a day.
White rice wins this round because an average serving cup of white rice has 195-222 mcg of folate. That is 50 percent of the 400 mcg of the recommended intake for everyone, on average.
Folate plays an important role in:
- Making genetic material like DNA
- Helps the process of cell division
Now, folate is important for everyone but those who are planning a pregnancy or are already pregnant need more of it. Those who are pregnant should take 600 mcg and those who are breastfeeding need 500 mcg of folate.
Unless you have a thyroid problem, you don’t hear a lot about selenium but it is important in many ways. Brown rice has a good deal of it. Selenium is very important when it comes to
- Protecting antioxidants
- Producing hormones (like thyroid)
- Maintaining immune functions
- Protecting your cells from cancer (by working with vitamin E)
This is another essential mineral and brown rice has about 88 percent of what the human body needs but white rice does not. Manganese is important to:
- Produce energy
- Antioxidant functioning
- Collagen production which is good for the skin
Benefits Of White Rice
We’ve not talked about the good things that come with white rice. And it’s important to note here that white rice is actually demonized a lot more than it deserves. So, here we go. Apart from being a staple in many cultures, white rice has a lot of benefits. Here’s why it is important for a healthy, balanced meal.
Brown Rice Has More Arsenic
White rice is better when compared to brown rice because it does not have as much arsenic. That’s right. Arsenic is a heavy metal that is toxic even though it is present in nature in many rice-based items. Unfortunately, there is a lot more of it in the atmosphere because of pollution.
Consuming it for a long time might increase the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other illnesses like cancer in humans. But if you consume it through brown rice in moderation, you don’t have to worry too much about it.
Brown Rice Has Antinutrients
White rice also does not have anti-nutrients like brown rice. These are compounds typically found in plants. They decrease the ability your body has to absorb some nutrients. Brown rice contains phytate or phytic acid which makes it harder for your body to digest food.
Now, phytate has some benefits like reducing your ability to absorb zinc and iron that come from food. That’s why soaking the rice, brown or white, before you cook it can be helpful. But consuming phytate on a daily basis for a long time can lead to mineral deficiencies.
But if you have a balanced and varied diet, you don’t have to worry much about it. And if you’re eating white rice, you can be even less concerned about it.
Benefits Of Brown Rice
After reading that, brown rice might seem like a bit of a drag and a diet fad but it is not. You have to look at this information from the lens of what works best for you. So, here’s a look at the advantages of switching to brown rice.
Fiber (100 g cooked rice)
Glycemic Index (GI)
89 (53 when cooked and reheated)
Protein (per serving)
Calories (long grain)
Carbs (per serving)
Rich In Nutrients
It has more nutrients like antioxidants and fiber when compared to white rice. It also has more minerals and vitamins even if only marginally. Take this for instance.
Rich In Antioxidants
Brown rice has antioxidants that are more powerful because of the bran. It helps reduce free radicals in the body and inflammation too. Brown rice is also known to help with type 2 diabetes, heart diseases and chronic conditions like cancer.
Good For Blood Sugar
Since brown sugar has more fiber and magnesium, it can help with blood sugar levels and blood pressure. That’s why substituting white rice with brown is a huge move in the right direction in the fight against diabetes and blood pressure.
In fact, consuming excessive amounts of white rice is known to have a connection to diabetes. This is because of the glycemic index or GI, which measures how soon a particular food item increases the blood sugar levels in the human body.
White rice has a GI of 89 whereas brown rice has only 50 which means white rice has warp speed when it comes to increasing blood sugar levels compared to brown rice. But it is important to note that both types of rice are rich in carbohydrates which contributes a great deal to blood sugar levels.
Now, you can reduce the GI of white rice by cooling it because in that process resistant starch is created which helps the food go through the digestive tract like soluble fiber does.
It helps if you cook rice the night before and store it in the fridge before you eat it. That drops its GI to 53 which is almost the same as the GI of brown rice. Now, there are some problems with reheating rice, but it is still not as bad.
You can also add oil or vinegar to rice to lower the GI. And trying varieties like basmati, black, red or wild rice is also a good idea because of their low GI.
The Bottom Line
A lot of people tend to shun rice, white or brown, in a misguided attempt to cut down on carbs. But rice is an important part of a balanced meal.
And while brown rice does have more benefits and fewer risks, white rice is perfectly fine to consume if you don’t overdo it.