Brown Rice VS White Rice: Which One is Really Better For You?

Uncooked brown and white rice side by side with spoons

I have always heard that brown rice is healthier and better for you, but I wanted to know the why? What are the differences and can you enjoy both white and brown equally? There are so many questions surrounding rice, so I set out to do a taste test to find out which one tastes better and did the research and got the details on one of our favorite carbs! Brown Rice versus White Rice…which one is really better? Let’s dig in and find out some more about the different types of rice and one of the world’s most important food crops!

What exactly is brown rice? All rice has 3 layers.  According to the Mahatma Website (a company that produces and sells made in the USA rice) brown rice “in its most natural state, arrives at our mill with an outer hull (the husk)…brown rice is the rice grain with only the outer hull removed. The fiber and nutrient-dense bran layers remain and cover the white inner part of the grain. These bran layers have a light brown color.”

White rice is the same as brown rice, except the husk and bran layers are removed, leaving only the inner part of the grain: the single piece of “rice”.

Now that I knew how each was made, it was time to taste them!

To start, I did a lot of taste testing. My favorite rice (purely by taste alone) is Jasmine Rice. Jasmine rice is a long grain white rice with a slightly aromatic and sweet flavor (think gin). Jasmine rice takes about 15 minutes to cook and once fully cooked, it is typically soft, white, and fluffy. I served it with a little bit of butter and salt, alongside dishes like roasted chicken and smoked salmon. It was perfection!

My second favorite was brown rice. Brown rice typically takes 45 minutes to cook, which is much longer than the mere 15 it took for Jasmine! Brown rice is whole grain and has a more nutty and hearty flavor. It is also the most dense of the three rices making it somewhat chewy. My family really liked it with a steak and meat loaf (yes, meat loaf!). I will be posting my delicious and super healthy recipe here soon! It is loaded with vegetables and you can’t even tell that they are in there! My kids always request it and we never have leftovers. It’s always a score when you can hide veggies and the kids have no idea!

Last on the list was original White Rice. Long grain white rice is almost always enriched with niacin, iron, thiamin, and folic acid. It takes about 20 minutes to cook and is a fluffier rice. It lacks flavor and can almost taste a little soapy at times. HOWEVER, it is the perfect base for a healthy stir fry!  When you chop up a mixture of chicken, broccoli, peppers and onions, mix in a little of Bragg’s liquid amino (a non GMO- soy sauce alternative), or soy sauce and serve over white rice…it is perfection in a bowl!

So, lets talk nutrition of these three rices.  For all three we will use a standard serving of 3/4 cup, cooked.

Jasmine Rice

  • 160 Calories
  • 0g Fat, Cholesterol
  • 36g Carbs
  • 0g Fiber, Sugar
  • 3g Protein
  • Enriched with Iron 8% • Thiamin 15% • Niacin 8% • Folic Acid 20%
  • Vitamin A 0% • Vitamin C 0% • Calcium 0% 

Brown Rice

  • 150 Calories
  • 1g Fat
  • 0g Cholesterol
  • 32g Carbs
  • 1g Fiber
  • 0g Sugar
  • 3g Protein
  • Iron 4%
  • Vitamin A 0% • Vitamin C 0% • Calcium 0%

Long Grain White Rice

  • 150 Calories
  • 0g Fat
  • 0g Cholesterol
  • 35g Carbs
  • 0g Fiber/ Sugar
  • 3g Protein
  • Enriched with Iron 8% • Thiamin 15% • Niacin 8% • Folic Acid 20%
  • Vitamin A 0% • Vitamin C 0% • Calcium 0%

Looking strictly at Nutrition Facts, they all look very similar. There is not that much difference. In fact, the two white rices had more minerals in them since they were enriched. Brown rice is usually marketed as a high fiber whole grain alternative to white rice, but looking at the nutrition facts, that is not the case.  t has ONLY 1g of fiber. That is extremely low!!! Please do not think of brown rice as high fiber.

So, what nutrients are in the “bran” part of the brown rice that covers the white rice grain? Since I am not a registered dietitian, I scoured the internet researching what was in the “bran” part. Most websites just say it is healthy, even reputable websites, but they give no specific numbers to back up their claims. The most common main three nutrients (that most of the websites agreed on was) were (according to wikipedia) Magnesium, Manganese, and Phosphorous, and guess what??? White rice has all of those minerals as well. Hmmmmmm.

BUT Brown Rice also has “anti-nutrients” Now, that’s confusing, right?!?! According to ancestral-nutrition:

  • Brown Rice contains Phytates.
  • These are anti-nutrients found in grains and legumes. Phytates, or phytic acid, binds to minerals like zinc, copper, iron, magnesium, niacin and calcium, preventing them from being absorbed.
  • Phytic acid also inhibits pepsin, the enzyme needed to properly break down protein as well as amylase, the enzyme needed to break down sugar.
  • So not only does phytic acid prevent nutrient absorption, it also interferes with proper digestion.

GMO VS Non GMO Rice

You probably have noticed rice at the supermarket labeled either GMO or Non GMO. GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. Dictionary.com defines it as “an organism or microorganism whose genetic material has been altered by means of genetic engineering.” Basically, scientists take a natural organism, in this case rice, and then alter the genetic make up of it so that it can grow more, bigger, longer, or whatever the scientists end goal is. It is basically frankenstein rice. Non GMO is rice in its most natural state and the way God intended the rice to grow. With GMO rice, you really don’t know exactly what you are getting. You always want to look for the label NON GMO.Mahatma white rice 1 lb. bag NON GMO Project Verified labelOrganic vs Non Organic

Organic rice is always NON GMO, because it is grown without the use of pesticides and is in the rice’s most natural state. Non Organic rice can also be Non GMO, but make sure it has the label to ensure it has been grown without the use of pesticides. HOWEVER, both organic and non organic rice contain arsenic. Lets learn a little more about that!!!

Arsenic?  Now that is a scary word, lol! According to Live Science

  • It is a carcinogen.
  • Long-term exposure to low doses of arsenic may change the way cells communicate, and reduce their ability to function.
  • It could play a role in the development of diabetes, cancer, vascular disease and lung disease.
  • The Food and Drug Administration says that long-term exposure to high levels of arsenic is associated with higher rates of skin cancer, bladder cancer and lung cancer, as well as heart disease.
  • The GOOD NEWS: Arsenic does not build up in the body.  It can leave the system in a day or two, once consumption stops.

Consumer Reports did a report on the levels of arsenic in rice and found that, “Brown rice has 80 percent more inorganic arsenic on average than white rice of the same type. Arsenic accumulates in the grain’s outer layers, which are removed to make white rice.” Also, Organic and Non Organic rice both consume arsenic the same way when grown, so organic does not protect you from the harmful arsenic found in rice. When consuming rice, it is best to only consume it once or twice a week at a maximum to limit exposure to arsenic.  This includes rice drinks, rice crackers, rice pasta, etc.

SO, here’s the bottom line! Rice is really not that healthy of a food, but it is also not that unhealthy either. It is relatively low in calories, has little to no fat, a small amount of protein, and is high in carbohydrate. White rice does provide is more vitamins and minerals, (mainly because it is enriched with them) while brown rice and the minerals that are in brown rice, are not being absorbed because of the anti nutrients in it. Brown rice has higher levels of arsenic, which I personally do not like. Neither rice is providing any significant amount of fiber.

What we will do is eat rice very sparingly, but enjoy the kind we enjoy best! We will eat the rice that best compliments our meal, and not fall for the MARKETING CAMPAIGN that has been promoting brown rice and giving white rice a bad rep. Now, go have some delicious sushi and don’t worry about the white rice wrapped around the outside of it!!!

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