Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Which is the Healthier Choice?

Rice has been a staple of the diet for thousands of years in cultures around the world, particularly in many Asian countries, including China, India, Japan, and South Korea. But this grain’s popularity has since gone global and the grain has taken up permanent residence in many pantries across America.

Historically, white rice has been the traditional choice, however, brown rice has also become a popular choice, especially thanks to its reputation of having greater health benefits than white rice. But what are the nutritional benefits of brown rice compared to white rice? How do white and brown rice differ from each other, and how do those differences affect our health (if at all)? Is it really healthier to replace white rice with brown rice when ordering takeout or deciding what to make for dinner? It’s time to uncover all your burning rice nutrition questions.

Nutritional Comparison between White and Brown Rice

How do these relatives of rice differ physically and nutritionally? Clinical dietitian Caitlin Carr, MS, RD, explains that physically because of the refining process, white rice has only part of the anatomy of a normal grain of rice, which is the two major parts of a whole rice grain. Removes.

Whole grains, including whole rice grains (aka brown rice), are made up of three structures or layers – the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. White rice is made from brown rice by separating the husk and germ and leaving behind its starchy core, the endosperm.

Brown rice provides slightly more fiber than white rice.

This reveals some important nutritional differences between the two varieties of rice. In two-thirds of a cup, brown rice contains about two grams of fiber while white rice has only 0.5 grams.

Brown rice contains more vitamins and minerals than white rice.

Additionally, brown rice contains more essential minerals like manganese, phosphorus, selenium and magnesium, as well as B-vitamins like niacin and folate, when compared with white rice per cup, says Carr.

Brown rice provides more plant compounds than white rice.

Brown rice is also a good source of plant compounds like flavonoids. These additional phytonutrients found in brown rice help support better gut, bone, heart, immune and metabolic health.

Brown Rice Nutrition and Health Benefits

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Brown rice is digested more slowly and causes fewer blood-sugar spikes.

Due to its fiber content, brown rice is a complex carbohydrate, while white rice is a simple carbohydrate. This means that brown rice takes a little longer to digest than white rice, explains Carr. The increased digestion time of brown rice provides more stable energy levels and also has a positive effect on blood sugar through a more gradual rise and fall of sugar levels. This benefit is especially important for people with metabolic concerns like type 2 diabetes, as it can make blood sugar management easier.

The soluble fiber in brown rice supports healthy gut and digestion.

Carr says brown rice also contains soluble fiber, which is beneficial for maintaining bowel regularity, reducing cholesterol levels, and nourishing our gut microbiome. When microorganisms in the gut microbiome metabolize soluble fiber, they produce short-chain fatty acids that are absorbed by the gut lining, triggering a cascade of events that reduce inflammation and oxidative stress throughout the body. Suggests to do.

This benefit is part of the reason why a thriving gut microbiome is linked to better immune, gut and brain health, among other impressive benefits.

White Rice Nutrition and Health Considerations

Kara Cormack

As we have already begun to see, white rice is not extremely Due to the low amount of fiber and micronutrients in it, it provides nutrition equal to brown rice. The low fiber content in white rice also equates to a higher score on the glycemic index, a scale measuring how quickly a given food will raise blood sugar. This index ranks foods on a scale of zero to 100, where the higher the score, the faster the food is digested in the body, and the faster our blood sugar rises.

As refined, or simple, carbohydrates, white rice has a glycemic index of 70 while brown rice has a glycemic index of 50. Because of this, consuming white rice too often may put us at risk for type 2 diabetes, according to a 2019 review.

However, this doesn’t mean that white rice can’t be part of a balanced, healthy diet, especially when eaten with healthy, high-fiber and high-protein sources. Brown and white rice are both naturally gluten-free and low FODMAP foods, notes Carr. To test a temporary elimination diet for individuals with celiac and/or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), rice [of either variety] This can be a good carbohydrate option to include in their meal plans.

Taste and texture comparison

The eating experience between these two grains is similar, and they are generally easy to substitute for one another, however, there are some notable differences. White rice offers a softer texture and a more neutral, mild flavor. Brown rice, on the other hand, has a chewier texture and nuttier flavor. If white rice has always been your favorite, it may take some time to get used to these differences, but that doesn’t stop brown rice from being an equally delicious swap-out for white rice in most recipes.


White rice is a delicious, traditional, and comforting comfort food for many of us, but when you look at the nutritional details, there’s no denying that it’s packed with beneficial fiber, micronutrients, and plant nutrients. Brown rice is a notch higher in terms of compounds. And while white rice eaten in limited amounts can still fit into a healthy, balanced lifestyle, consuming brown rice from time to time can certainly provide some nutritional benefits.

I love that both white and brown rice are economical sources of carbohydrates that can be used in many recipes, made in batches, and easily stored, says Carr. Some delicious ways to enjoy white or brown rice include stir-fries, fried rice, sushi, curries, rice and beans, rice casserole, jambalaya, baked rice, soups, chicken and rice dishes and stews.

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