For the health conscious, this is a debate because white rice is generally processed compared to brown rice which is more natural and has less processing performed upon it.
The question is, is there a big difference between white and brown rice and is brown healthier for you than white as we are led to believe?
Brown Rice and White Rice – The Difference
Every type of rice is mainly carbohydrates with small amounts of protein and hardly any fat content. There is still the question, is brown rice better than white rice?
Brown rice is a whole grain, so, all parts of the grain which includes the fibrous bran, the carb-rich endosperm and the healthy and nutritious germ.
Compare this to white rice which has the bran and the germ removed, so, it doesn’t contain the healthier portions. This is the main reason brown rice is considered the healthier option.
Minerals and Vitamins
Brown rice has a considerable advantage over white rice nutrition when you take a look at the content. It contains higher levels of fiber and antioxidants along with more vital minerals and vitamins.
When you look at white rice as a comparison, it contains mainly carbs and empty calories and hardly any nutrients.
As a comparison, refer to the table below:
|White Rice (RDI)||Brown Rice (RDI)|
The Downside of Brown Rice
Brown rice does have a downside, and the first one being it contains anti-nutrients. These are compounds found in plants which reduce the absorption of specific nutrients. The ones contained in brown are as follows:
Phytic Acid can have some health benefits, although it does reduce the ability for the body to absorb iron and zinc.
In the long-term, this could be a contributory factor toward mineral deficiencies. With this being said, for any person eating a varied diet, it should not pose a problem.
Arsenic is found in higher levels in brown rice. This heavy metal is a naturally occurring element although it has been shown to be on the increase due to pollution in the environment. During studies, significant amounts have been found in rice and rice-based products.
Exposure to arsenic in the long-term can lead to a higher risk of chronic disease which includes: type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Brown rice vs. white rice in this section would swing in favor of white rice, but this is pure to the fact it has been processed, and most of the harmful ingredients are destroyed.
Diabetes and Blood Sugars
As brown rice is high in magnesium and fiber, it can aid in controlling blood sugar levels. This is the same as eating any other whole grain products.
Individuals who regularly eat wholegrain products have a 31% lower chance of contracting type 2 diabetes, compared to people who eat fewer whole grains.
All of this stems down to the GI (glycemic index) and is where food increases blood sugar levels. White rice has a GI of 89 compared to the lower number of brown rice of GI 50. Foods with a high GI contribute to type 2 diabetes and other ailments.
Brown and White Rice – Other Health Effects
There are other factors of health which are affected differently by white and brown rice and can include heart disease, weight control, and antioxidant levels.
Plant compounds called lignans are found in brown rice which helps in the fight against heart disease. This they do by reducing fat levels in the blood.
As a result blood pressure is lowered as is inflammation of the arteries. Such is the effect that studies show there up to a 21% lower risk of heart disease when eating brown rice due to the whole grain.
Studies in animals suggest eating white rice might decrease blood antioxidant levels in type 2 diabetics. Brown rice, on the other hand, increases these antioxidant levels in obese women.
Studies conclude that eating whole grain products such as brown rice might reduce the overall BMI (body mass index), especially around the waist and hips.
Many studies show that brown rice above white rice can help when consumed in healthy diets for weight loss.
As fiber in white rice is negligible compared to the high amount of brown rice, it will not pass through the body as efficiently. This makes it a factor in an increase of the BMI.
After all, this information, is brown rice healthier than white rice? On the whole, brown rice wins and is the better of the two, but eating white rice every now and again won’t hurt if you prefer the taste, and it certainly won’t do any harm when consumed in moderation.