Is Brown Rice Healthier Than White Rice?

In recent years, rice consumption has dramatically increased in the United States. While the vast majority of the rice we eat is white, are there health benefits of switching to brown rice?

First things first, brown rice is the whole grain with just the outer husk removed through a milling process. White rice, on the other hand, is brown rice that is heavily milled to take away the bran and much of the germ.

The germ contains essential oils which otherwise cause brown rice to go bad after 6 – 8 months. Because this germ is removed in white rice, it can last up to 10 years before spoiling. It is the longer shelf life of white rice has made it extremely popular. Unfortunately, the heavy milling process also removes the rice’s fiber, vitamins and nutrients.

When comparing white rice to brown, consider the follow statistics. Brown rice has:

  • About 7x more fiber
  • Fewer carbs
  • A lower glycemic index (doesn’t result in blood sugar spikes)
  • 2.5x more iron
  • 3x more vitamin B3
  • 4x more vitamin B1
  • 4x more magnesium
  • 10x more vitamin B6
  • Fewer calories

White rice has also been linked to increased risk of type 2 diabetes. According to researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, eating two or more servings of brown rice weekly lowers the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Eating five or more servings of white rice weekly increases that risk. In fact, researchers concluded that replacing 50 grams of white rice daily with brown rice would lower the overall type 2 diabetes risk in an individual by 16%.

The bottom line: If rice is part of your diet, brown rice is a much healthier option. Despite its shorter shelf life, it offers a number of benefits over the more refined alternative.

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  1. Wow! What great facts! I’ll really have to push the white rice out. I’ve heard it’s technically a grass, but does anyone know how wild rices compare to brown rice? Thanks for the advice!

  2. Disappointing, but not surprising. I tried switching to brown rice but I just can’t choke it down. I gave up rice altogether and switched to quinoa instead. I still like white rice better, but I guess this is healthier.

    • Hey Lynn. Since you mentioned Quinoa, I have a great recipe for a Quinoa “Pilaf.” Instead of water, boil your quinoa with chicken broth and lemon juice. After it’s done setting, you add some fresh chopped parsely. It’s even good as a chilled snack!

  3. down side of brown rice is the cooking time… personally i just use Quinoa now too…

  4. christopher says:

    ive had brown rice with sushi lately.if prepared correctly-its very tasty.couple of years ago i purchased a 10lb bag of white rice.its true white rice keeps-two years and not a big white rice next rice purchase-exclusively brown rice.thanx for the info-im totally finished with the white stuff.

  5. This is almost a superfood the likes of spinach, kiwi, broccoli, sweet potato. Small changes in diet choices make a big difference. I keep my brown rice in the freezer, it basically keeps forever. I use a medium sized rice cooker, on auto, and it does an amazing job. Some rice kernels might have a very slight crunch… but since when is “crunchy” something bad with food ??? 🙂

    • @edgreen69 says:

      2014 update: Rice is nice but barley is bitchin’ ! It’s a far healthier food than rice. Plus, rice if left out at room temperature can actually kill you (search it) !

  6. I think it’s also very important for you to mention that people who have kidney disease, digest problem, or some certain disease such as gout should avoid brown rice.

  7. brown basmati rice is def worth the extra time it takes to cook… the aroma alone will make you hungry…
    ~ cheers..

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