Rice is one of the most widely consumed foods in the world, but not all rice is created equal. Depending on how it is processed, rice can have different nutritional values and health effects. The most common types of rice are brown rice and white rice, but which one is better for your health? In this article, we will compare the differences, benefits, and disadvantages of brown rice and white rice.
The Difference Between Brown Rice and White Rice
Brown rice and white rice come from the same grain, but they differ in how much of the grain is removed during milling. Whole grains, like brown rice, include the bran, germ, and endosperm rather than just one of these components. The fiber and antioxidant-rich bran is the outer layer. The germ, located on the inside, is rich in nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and good fats. The energy-providing starchy core is found in the endosperm.
White rice, on the other hand, is a refined grain, which means it has been stripped of the bran and the germ, leaving only the endosperm. This process removes most of the nutrients and fiber from white rice, making it less nutritious than brown rice. However, some white rice is enriched with added vitamins and minerals to replace some of the lost nutrients.
|Nutrients||White rice, Unenriched||White Rice, Enriched||Brown Rice, Unenriched|
|Protein||2.9 grams||2.9 grams||2.6 grams|
|Carbs||30 grams||26 grams||23 grams|
|Fat||0.4 grams||0.4 grams||0.9 grams|
|Fiber||0.9 grams||0.9 grams||1.8 grams|
|Folate||1% of the RDI||20% of the RDI||1% of the RDI|
|Manganese||18% of the RDI||18% of the RDI||45% of the RDI|
|Thiamine||5% of the RDI||14% of the RDI||6% of the RDI|
|Selenium||13% of the RDI||13% of the RDI||14% of the RDI|
|Niacin||12% of the RDI||12% of the RDI||8% of the RDI|
|Iron||1% of the RDI||10% of the RDI||2% of the RDI|
|Vitamin B6||8% of the RDI||8% of the RDI||7% of the RDI|
|Phosphorus||6% of the RDI||6% of the RDI||8% of the RDI|
|Copper||4% of the RDI||4% of the RDI||5% of the RDI|
|Magnesium||2% of the RDI||2% of the RDI||11% of the RDI|
|Zinc||2% of the RDI||2% of the RDI||4% of the RDI|
Benefits of Brown Rice
Brown rice has several advantages over white rice in terms of nutrition and health. Here are some of the benefits of brown rice:
Brown rice contains more vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals than white rice. For example, one cup of cooked brown rice provides 88% of the daily value (DV) for manganese, a mineral that helps with metabolism and bone health. The same amount of white rice provides only 17% of the DV for manganese. Brown rice also has more magnesium, phosphorus, niacin, thiamine, and vitamin B6 than white rice.
2. Positive Effects on Blood Sugar Levels
Brown rice has a lower glycemic index (GI) than white rice, which means it causes a smaller rise in blood sugar levels after eating. A high GI diet can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity. Brown rice also has more fiber than white rice, which can slow down the absorption of sugar and improve insulin sensitivity.
3. May Reduce The Risk of Heart Disease
Brown rice may help lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure, which are risk factors for heart disease. A study of over 200,000 people found that those who ate more whole grains like brown rice had a lower risk of coronary heart disease than those who ate less. Another study found that replacing white rice with brown rice or other whole grains reduced systolic blood pressure and inflammation markers in people with metabolic syndrome.
4. Rich in Antioxidants
Brown rice contains more antioxidants than white rice, especially in the bran layer. Antioxidants are substances that protect cells from oxidative stress and inflammation, which can lead to chronic diseases like cancer and aging. Some of the antioxidants in brown rice include phenolic acids, flavonoids, anthocyanins, and tocopherols.
5. Aids in Weight Control
Brown rice can help with weight management by increasing satiety and reducing calorie intake. A study of overweight women found that those who ate brown rice for six weeks lost more weight and body fat than those who ate white rice. Another study found that eating brown rice instead of white rice reduced waist circumference and body mass index (BMI) in obese adults.
6. Reduces High Cholesterol
Eating brown rice regularly decreases LDL cholesterol, according to research. Brown rice may reduce cholesterol levels by providing more fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals than white rice. Fiber can help lower cholesterol by binding to bile acids in the digestive tract and preventing them from being reabsorbed into the bloodstream. Antioxidants and phytochemicals can help prevent oxidative stress and inflammation, which can damage the blood vessels and increase the risk of heart disease.
Potential Disadvantages of White Rice
White rice is not necessarily bad for you, but it has some drawbacks compared to brown rice. Here are some of the disadvantages of white rice:
- Contains antinutrients: White rice may contain antinutrients like phytic acid and lectins, which can interfere with the absorption of minerals like iron, zinc, and calcium. However, these antinutrients are also present in brown rice and other grains, and their effects can be reduced by soaking, sprouting, or fermenting the grains before cooking.
- May contain arsenic: White rice may have higher levels of arsenic than brown rice because arsenic accumulates in the bran layer, which is removed from white rice. Arsenic is a toxic element that can cause health problems like cancer, diabetes, and neurological disorders. However, the amount of arsenic in rice varies depending on the type, origin, and cooking method of the rice. To reduce arsenic exposure from rice, you can rinse the rice before cooking, cook it with more water, and drain the excess water after cooking.
- Low in fiber: White rice is a low-fiber food. Fiber is important for digestive health and can help you feel full and satisfied after eating. However, white rice has been stripped of most of its fiber during the milling process.
White and brown rice have various nutritional and health benefits. Whole brown rice has more fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals than white rice. Brown rice may also decrease cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, oxidative stress, and weight. Brown rice provides more minerals and fiber than refined white rice. Antinutrients and arsenic in white rice may impair mineral absorption and create health issues. White rice may be part of a balanced diet if consumed in moderation and alongside other healthy foods. Your taste, health objectives, and diet determine whether you choose brown or white rice.