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The Health of White Rice and Brown Rice

I was recently tasked with answering a question about whether white rice was as good for you as brown rice. This is a reasonable question and many people have no doubt had this or a similar question.

First, a misconception needs to be cleared up. A lot of people are under the impression that white rice and brown rice are different species of rice. Simply put, they aren’t. Brown rice becomes white rice once the hull and the bran are removed.

This is important to understand when considering the relative health of both white and brown health. It has a great deal of bearing because most of the nutrition is found in the hull and bran. This shouldn’t be surprising. The same is true of wheat and it is the reason that whole wheat flour is healthier than bleached flour. It is also the reason that for maximum health, the skins of potatoes should be eaten along with the rest of the potato…most of the nutrition is found in the skin.

Would it be any surprise, then, that brown rice is healthier than white rice? We can get more specific. Here is the breakdown comparison between white and brown rice, per one cup serving, cooked rice:

Long grain brown ricecalories: 216carbohydrates: 44.8 gprotein: 5.0 gdietary fiber: 3.5 gvitamin K: 1.2 mcgthiamin: .2 mgniacin: 3.0 mgVitamin B6: .3 mgcalcium: 19.5 mgiron: .8 mgmagnesium: 83.9 mgsodium: 9.8 mgphosphorus: 162 mgpotassium: 83.9zinc: 1.2 mgcopper: .2 mgmanganese: 1.8 mgselenium: 19.1 mcgomega-3 fatty acids: 27.3 mgomega-6 fatty acids: 603 mgglycemic load: 22Long grain white ricecalories: 205carbohydrates: 44.5 gprotein: 4.2 gdietary fiber: .6 gvitamin K: 0 mcgthiamin: .3 mgniacin: 2.3 mgVitamin B6: .1 mgcalcium: 15.8 mgiron: 1.9 mgmagnesium: 19 mgsodium: 1.6 mgphosphorus: 68 mgpotassium: 55.3 mgzinc: .8 mgcopper: .1 mgmanganese: .7 mgselenium: 11.9 mcgomega-3 fatty acids: 20.5 mgomega-6 fatty acids: 98 mgglycemic load: 24

There you have it. Brown rice really is healthier than white rice. It is interesting that white rice is sometimes less expensive than brown rice, though it is more heavily processed. It should also be pointed out that most of the rice consumed, worldwide, about 78%, is white rice. What is more staggering is that a sizeable portion of the world population eats a half-cup of rice, with nothing added, twice a day, as their entire diet. Many people in wealthier countries like the US, UK, and Australia feel that it is a hardship to limit themselves to a 1,000 or even 2,000 calories per day diet. Imagine trying to survive on about 200 calories per day!

  • Do you eat brown rice or white rice?

    • I eat mostly brown rice
    • I eat mostly white rice
    • I don’t’ like brown rice
    • I don’t eat rice or only eat it rarely

What do you think?

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Written by Rex Trulove

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