Brown vs white rice, which one is better for your health?

which one is best for your health
(Image: © Louis Hansel/unsplash)

Rice is a multi-used grain consumed by people around the world.
Since decades in south Asia or Africa, rice is cultivated in more than 100 countries.
In accordance with the food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, rice represents about 19% of all calories available in the world.
Below we are going to learn more about the nutritional differences between white and brown rice, and which one is the best in some cases, in addition to possible risks.
Contents of this article:

Food collapse
Which rice is better for certain situations?
Possible risks and considerations
Rice and diabetes
Summary of nutritional information:
Depending on the USDA National Nutrient Database, 1 cup of long, cooked, and enriched

white rice grains contains

– 205 calories (kcal)
– 4.25 g (g) of protein
– 0.44 g of fat
– 44.51 grams of carbohydrates
– 0.6 g of fiber

Instead, the USDA National Nutrient Database indicates that 1 cup of long-cooked brown rice provides:
– 248 calories
– 5.53 grams of protein
– 1.96 g fat
– 51.67 grams of carbohydrates
– 3.2 grams of fiber

The table below, compares daily values of vitamins and minerals in one cup of cooked white or brown long-grain rice, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA):

Food and Drug Administration

The nutritional difference between them

The white rice is the brown rice which lost bran and seed
As a result, white rice is poor in some antioxidants, vitamin B, minerals, fats and fibers, and a small amount of protein.
Varieties of white rice are good enough to replace nutrients lost during processing. In the United States, manufacturers add B vitamins, such as thiamine, niacin, folic acid, as well as iron.
As shown in the above table, brown rice contains higher amounts of vitamins and minerals than white rice, except for iron and folate, and it includes the same amount of selenium.
Rice is gentle on the digestive system.

Both white and brown rice are gluten-free by nature.
Cooling the rice after being cooked leads to higher levels of fiber called starch resistance. This form of fiber may help promote bowel health, knowing that brown rice contains more fiber.

Which rice is the best?

In some cases, one of the two types of rice may have more benefit
Folate acid: Pregnant women, or those eligible to become pregnant or breastfeeding, need to increase folic acid levels.
Getting enough folic acid can help reduce the risk of some birth defects, especially neural tube defects.
Aside from the folic acid found naturally in foods, it is recommended for women who wish to become pregnant to get 400 (micrograms) of folic acid daily.
Since white rice is rich in folic acid, it can be a better option for people with excess folic acid needs or those at risk of not meeting their folic acid needs.

Kidney disease: Brown rice contains more phosphorous and potassium than white rice, thus people who suffer from kidney disease should limit their intake of brown rice because of its content of all these nutrients, and they have to pay attention to them in their diet.

A low-fiber diet: It is recommended to follow a low-fiber diet in some cases that include the intestine (such as obstruction, diarrhea), and after surgeries on the stomach or intestine.

White rice contains less fiber rather than brown rice, so it may be a better option when a low-fiber diet is needed.

However, the proportion of the fibers in brown rice is relatively low, so either one can be reliable.

High-fiber diet: By contrast, although brown rice is slightly higher in fiber than white rice, it may be a better option when a person needs to follow a high-fiber diet.
Fiber can help boost healthy cholesterol levels, moderate diet, manage weight, and relieve constipation.

Better Nutrition: Since brown rice is not stripped of bran and seed, it contains many vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, and this makes it the ideal choice for those looking to improve their level of nutrition thoroughly.

Possible risks and considerations

Poisons: Concerns have recently arisen about the amount of arsenic present in rice as it varies according to the type of rice, as well as the soil and where it was grown.
Since rice bran contains arsenic, brown rice contains more arsenic than white rice.
Concerns also appeared about cadmium, mercury, and lead in rice.
However, according to an article, there isn’t much research confirming that toxic elements of rice alone cause harm to people.
In contrast, a 2017 study found an eventual relationship between people who eat rice and a higher incidence of skin cancer.
The FDA recommends that adults and children follow a healthy diet that includes a variety of grains, and eating different types of grains is one way to reduce exposure to arsenic in rice.

Rice and diabetes: A review of studies examined the relationship between eating white rice and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The researchers found that eating white rice was associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, especially among Asian people.
The researchers also found that the possibility of developing type 2 diabetes increases by 11% for each meal of white rice consumed every day.
Another study compared white rice with brown rice in relation to type 2 diabetes.
The study also found that consuming white rice was more associated with the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
In contrast, eating more brown rice is associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Studies have also shown, people who are fed two times or more with brown rice every week are less concerned by the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 11% of people who eat the least amount of brown rice.
The researchers concluded that replacing white rice with brown rice can help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Some of the beneficial effects of brown rice maybe because it contains higher amounts of insoluble fiber and magnesium.


Generally speaking, brown rice looks to be a healthier option than white rice.
However, there may be some situations where white rice is the best option.
Both types of rice can fit a healthy diet.
While brown rice contains more fiber than white rice, it carries less fiber than many other whole grains.
This may be good for those who want to add more whole grains to their diet, which does not contain much fiber.
The fiber intake should be gradually increased with adequate fluid intake.
This can help prevent symptoms like diarrhea, constipation, flatulence, and bloating.

Originally published on Live Positively.

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