Medically Reviewed by Dr. C.H. Weaver 08/04/21
Rice may just be the perfect, all-around grain—it’s gluten free and high in fiber, making it a healthy addition to any diet. But not all rice is created equally. If you want to add rice to your diet, brown is better.
The Difference Between Brown Rice and White Rice
When rice is harvested, the seeds are milled to remove the outer grain husks. The result is brown rice—a whole grain. If the brown rice is further milled—to remove the germ and the inner husk (bran)—the result is white rice. But removing the inner husk also means removing precious nutrients, including fiber, magnesium, manganese, selenium, vitamin B6, and zinc.
Why Brown is Better
Most of the vitamins, minerals, and fiber of rice reside in the inner husk that is left intact in brown rice. White rice, on the other hand, is simply the starchy part of the rice that’s left after the nutrient-dense husk is removed. Many people prefer white rice because it is fluffier and has a shorter cooking time, but white rice fails to offer the nutritional benefits of brown rice.
Brown rice is high in fiber, which means it can help stabilize blood sugar levels, promote digestion, and possibly even help prevent colon cancer. Furthermore, because it is a “slow-release sugar,” brown rice is a better option for diabetics than white rice. In fact, a recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine indicated that eating two or more servings of brown rice per week may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 16 percent.1 In contrast, individuals who consumed five or more servings of white rice per week had a 17 percent increased risk of diabetes compared to those who consumed less than one serving per month. White rice is higher on the glycemic index, and therefore raises blood sugar levels more quickly.
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Cooking Brown Rice
Brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice and requires a little more water. It has a chewy texture and nutty flavor compared to fluffy white rice—but it’s delicious and nutritious. Choose this whole grain for whole health.
- Sun Q, Spiegelman D, Van Dam RM, et al. White rice, brown rice, and risk of type 2 diabetes in U.S. men and women. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2010; 170(11): 961-969.