Is Brown Rice better for you than White rice?
If you were to ask 100 people off the street which of the two types of rice was healthier the vast majority of people would agree that brown rice was better for you.
Why then is white rice still so much more popular than its brown counterpart? Estimates state that around 70% of the rice consumed in the United States is actually white. Many people choose their food based on its appearance and it is true that white rice looks a lot tastier.
But don’t let appearances fool you. I am a huge fan of brown rice and find it far more delicious than the white version.
I live in a part of the world (Northern Thailand) with a staggering choice of rice but despite the small variation in cost, plain white rice is still far more popular than any other type of rice and is the only form available in at least 90% of restaurants.
Whether you are ordering your rice boiled or fried, the chances are that you will be eating white rice. Given that rice is eaten with nearly every single meal over here, this seems like a missed opportunity to improve the health of an entire nation. But old habits definitely seem to die hard.
Why you should opt for Brown Rice
Numerous studies prove that we should be changing our eating habits and substituting our white rice for brown but before I get onto the numerous benefits of brown rice let us take a look at the differences.
Before your white rice gets refined, it looks no different to brown rice. Unlike the white rice you are so familiar with, brown rice still possesses the bran and the hull.
These side hulls and bran confer a natural wholeness to your grains and are very rich in proteins as well as healthy nutrients like thiamine, magnesium, potassium, calcium and fiber. It has a lower glycemic index than white rice which makes it ideal for people with diabetes or simply looking to shed a few pounds.
Unfortunately, the refinement process strips the rice of much of its natural goodness. Many of the vitamins and minerals are lost or reduced in quantity when white rice is refined.
Because of this, white rice is fortified with synthetic vitamins and minerals like iron before it can be marketed as a nutritious product. Despite the fact that white rice has been fortified, it does not meet the minimum requirements for nutrition for a single serving of food defined by the U.S FDA.
What are the Benefits of Brown Rice?
1. For Type 2 Diabetes
According to a recent large scale study, eating brown rice instead of white rice can reduce your risk of getting type 2 diabetes. This is a significant finding for countries like the US where white rice consumption has increased greatly over the couple of decades.
Unfortunately, nearly 20 million Americans suffer from type 2 diabetes. The study which was published in 2010 by the Harvard school of Health demonstrated that eating at least two servings of brown rice each week was linked to a reduction in type 2 diabetes. The researchers also found that eating 5 servings or more of white rice each week increases the risk.
The researchers estimated that eating brown rice instead of white rice could reduce the risk of developing diabetes up to 16%. While that figure is impressive, it should be noted that a further reduction to 36% occurred if you replaced white rice with whole grains like wheat or barley. (1)
2. Brown Rice is Rich in Selenium
Unlike white rice, brown rice is a great source of many minerals including selenium. Selenium is known to reduce the risk of numerous common health conditions including heart disease, arthritis and even cancer.
3. Brown Rice is Rich in Manganese
Manganese is a vital mineral that helps the body to synthesize fats and can also help benefit the nervous system and the reproductive system. A single cup of brown rice will provide you with around 80% of the recommended daily requirement of manganese far in excess of the amount offered by white rice.
4. Brown Rice is rich in Natural Oils
The type of naturally-occurring oils that brown rice provides us with are extremely beneficial for the body. They are natural fats that can help with weight control and also to manage cholesterol levels.
5. For Weight Control
Although carbohydrates have a bad rap when it comes to weight loss, brown rice is still a far better option than its white counterpart if weight control is a goal of yours. Brown rice is richer in fiber which makes it easier to digest and can help keep your bowel functions ticking over properly.
Compared to white rice, brown rice also helps you to feel fuller which should cut down on your snacking and calorific intake. While serious weight loss requires a fairly strict dietary and exercise plan, there is no doubt that replacing your white for a healthier more nutritious brown can help achieve your goals.
6. Brown Rice is High in Fiber
Brown rice is a great source of healthy fiber and we all know just how important that fiber is for your health. Having said that, most of us get nowhere near the recommended levels of fiber intake but simply swapping white for brown will help you get closer to the mark.
High fiber food like brown rice can ease any digestive complaints that you may have including diarrhea and constipation and has even been linked to a reduction in risk of diseases like colon cancer.
7. Brown Rice is Rich in Natural Antioxidants
It is of course vital that we get plenty of antioxidants into our systems to combat the devastating effect of the free radicals that we encounter each day. When we talk about antioxidants, many people instantly think of berries and other types of fruit or veg but make no mistake – brown rice is an excellent antioxidant in its own right.
Eating brown rice instead of white will help prevent cellular damage, slow down the aging process and protect against a multitude of diseases.
8. Brown Rice is more Wholesome and Unrefined
When you buy brown rice you are definitely getting a lot more bang for that buck of yours especially when it comes to wholesome nutritional value. Unlike white rice, its mineral and vitamin content is not diminished by refinement and there is absolutely no need to add synthetic compounds in order to enrich it.
Apart from the overall health effects of consuming whole grains, they can help protect the heart against diseases like arterial plaque and further help the heart by controlling your cholesterol level.
9. Protects against Yeast Infection
People who are suffering from a yeast infection like Candida can benefit from eating whole foods like brown rice. Unlike white rice, it is low in the starches and sugars that are not allowed during a Candida treatment protocol.
Moreover, because brown rice is so much more easily digested and comes with a very high content of fiber, it can help those with a sensitive digestive system to recover quickly from a yeast overgrowth.
10. Brown Rice is Absolutely Delicious
Sand last but not least, one of the best reasons for making the switch is that brown rice tastes incredible. I know that taste is subjective, but there is no comparison between brown and white rice for me.
Brown rice has a much fuller and richer flavor and can be used in exactly the same way that you cooked your plain old white rice. Give it a go….your body and your taste buds will thank you for it.
One Last Note
This is not to say that white rice has no redeeming qualities. Cooked and cooled White Rice is rich in Type-3 Resistant Starches (RS). Resistant starches have many benefits for digestion and gut flora.