Health: Health Benefits of Brown vs. White Rice    


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Rice is a staple for many people around the world. It is not just nutritious and tasty, but also goes well with a huge range of other foods. The two types of rice most popular in the United States are white and brown rice. While both types of rice come from the same grain, they are refined a bit differently. Many people believe that brown rice is healthier than white rice, but what is the reality. Keep reading to find out about the differences between the two varieties.

Nutritional Value

Brown rice has more fiber and antioxidants, as well as vitamins and minerals, than white rice. This is because brown rice contains three layers of grain including bran, germ and endosperm. White rice, on the other hand, is a refined grain with the bran and germ layers removed. This is important because these layers contain various nutrients, such as magnesium, selenium, niacin, copper and vitamin B6. What many people don’t realize, however, is that most manufacturers enrich white rice with nutrients to compensate for the ones lost during the refinement process. In addition, brown rice contains anti-nutrients, such as phytic acid, which affect the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.

Calories

Both white and brown rice are about equal in terms of calories (they have a similar protein, fat, carb and fiber content), so it doesn’t really matter which one you consume if you are on a diet. In this case, whether you lose weight or gain weight depends solely on the size of the portions you eat. Why not use your rice cooker to prepare only as much rice as you can eat at a time so you are not tempted to overeat.

Digestibility

While both white and brown rice are well tolerated, white rice is associated with fewer digestive issues, such as gas or bloating, than brown rice. This is because white rice doesn’t have the outer layer and anti-nutrients of brown rice, which can occasionally irritate or inflame the gut.

Glycemic Index

The glycemic index ranks the speed at which the body converts carbs into glucose. A GI rating under 55 is considered low, a rating between 56 and 69 is considered medium, and a rating over 70 is high. Simple carbs have a high GI rating as they are converted into glucose quickly while complex carbs have a lower GI rating. Both brown and white rice have a very similar GI rating, with brown rice rating at 50 to 87 and white rice at 43 to 89.

Arsenic

Both white and brown rice contain arsenic—an element toxic to humans—that can be found in seafood, milk, and even water and air. According to an FDA report, brown rice contains more arsenic than white rice, as its outer layer retains more of the substance. There is no need to panic, however. There are some simple steps all of us can take to reduce the level of arsenic in rice including washing and soaking it for three hours before cooking, and cooking it in a large volume of water.