Rice has been a staple food in diverse parts of the world ever since its domestication around 8,200 years ago. Many different cultures have relied on rice (and other grains) to survive, and have since discovered different types of rice and different ways to cook/process it and incorporate it into their diets.
In Asian countries such as China and Japan, white rice has been a daily consumed dish even before its domestication. Wild rice grows on the continent of Australia in marshes and has also been consumed throughout its history. Rice was introduced into Europe during the European Colonization, and subsequently through the Americas after that.
In today’s day and age, we have many different types of rice and many different ways of processing it. The two main types of rice are brown rice and white rice. But what makes them different?
Brown rice is a whole grain, meaning it contains the outer fiber-rich layer called the bran. The middle layer is called the endosperm and the inner nutrient-filled core called the germ. Of course, the outer husk is removed, but no further processing procedures are applied to the rice. Although, there is a process that can be applied by soaking it in water for around 20 minutes. This causes it to germinate, therefore making the rice become germinated brown rice.
White rice is the same kind of rice but it is put through a process called milling. This removes both the 2 outer layers of the rice and its brown color. This does remove the layer of fiber and the nutritious germ, leaving only the endosperm of the grain.
Brown Rice vs White Rice: Nutritional Values
Rice, in general, is mainly made of carbs. It contains very little protein and minuscule amounts of fat. The nutritional differences between the two are then based upon the fiber content (or the lack of it). The content of bran is mainly composed of fiber, vitamins, and minerals such as zinc, magnesium, vitamin B6, and potassium.
The nutritional value of brown rice is higher in dietary fiber and most vitamins and minerals. It contains minimal amounts of saturated fats and cholesterol, as does all rice, and is considered an optimal whole grain.
White rice, on the other hand, is mainly comprised of carbohydrates and manganese (mineral) which makes it a great source of carbohydrates for your diet. It is considered an optimal choice when adding carbs to your diet.
They both contain the same minerals and vitamins, except brown rice contains larger amounts of them since it still has the nutritional values of the outer layers as well.
Pros and Cons of White Rice
White rice is a great source of natural carbohydrates, which means it’s a good way to pile on some calories if you are doing a lot of exercise and are burning a lot of calories in one day.
However, white rice does have a high glycemic index meaning it turns into sugar faster than a lot of other foods. It holds a risk of contributing to Type 2 diabetes and high blood glucose levels. An individual is more prone to developing it if they consume large quantities of rice.
White rice can be stored for more time than brown rice. Many of the methods used for preserving the rice (for commercial sales) makes it so that when it’s boiled, the rice loses many of its nutrients when the water is thrown out.
On the other hand, white rice does have a more neutral flavor than brown rice so it is very versatile to cook with. It normally takes less time to cook than brown rice. It is also less expensive and better to buy in large quantities for its price and storage allowance.
Pros and Cons of Brown Rice
Brown rice is exponentially more rich and diverse in nutrients than white rice. Its fiber content alone makes it more valuable to the body than white rice. With the addition of the protein-rich germ, brown rice is the best option.
Although brown rice is richer in protein and fiber, it is also plagued by a toxin – arsenic. Arsenic is a heavy metal which appears in brown rice due to pollution in some areas and can be the cause of serious illnesses if it is consumed in large quantities or over a long period of time.
Also, brown rice contains an anti-nutrient called phytic acid which can make the body unable to absorb nutrients like zinc and magnesium. So, eating brown rice can be good and nutritious, but it may also be the cause of some side effects. The presence of arsenic in rice shouldn’t scare you away from consuming it, but it is good to know not to eat a very excessive amount of it.
Of course, brown rice isn’t toxic to the body in any way (if not otherwise polluted) but it is good to know what it contains. Eating rice is good for the body whether it is brown or white. An excess of anything can cause diverse effects.
Eating brown rice also has its health benefits. According to researchers, eating whole grains (brown rice is a whole grain) has a marvelous effect on the body. It improves digestion, improves muscle repair, stimulates cell regrowth in the skin, and gives the body clean energy for the day.
In addition to this, some researchers have found an element in brown rice (and other whole grains) that fortifies the arteries and blood vessels in the heart which cuts the risk of heart disease down by a whopping 27%.
Should I Swap White Rice for Brown Rice?
In terms of nutritious value, brown rice will definitely benefit your body much more than white rice. It has all the benefits of a whole grain and will provide your body with much more energy and nutrition than white rice.
It is good to eat more brown rice than white rice but nothing is wrong with eating white rice every once in a while. White rice is not bad for your body; it is just empty calories and carbs. We do recommend eating more brown rice for the same reason.
Of course, brown rice does have around the same caloric value. Your body is also getting bran and fiber so it is much better for your body.
Ways to Incorporate Brown Rice into Your Diet
Brown rice in a very tasty addition to any meal and we recommend trying different recipes to find the ones you like most. It is great as a side dish or as a starch, instead of potatoes or pasta.
This whole grain works really well with sauces and sautéed veggies, as well as with fish and chicken. It is also really great on its own. It’s very versatile and neutral and ready for any yummy recipe ideas you want to try.
Fun Fact: Beans and rice together make the perfect pair. Rice actually unlocks around 80% of the protein in beans that would otherwise not be broken down by your body. It is a very nutritious and a very delicious combo that also complements itself. It unlocks more nutrition than on its own.
Brown rice is a great companion for workouts that require long, high-intensity cardio sessions like cycling sessions or long-distance running. The carbohydrates really help your body recover, and gives it what it spent while doing the workout.
If paired with beans, chicken, or fish as a protein, you’ll get all the protein, carbs, and healthy fats you need. Add a salad or some sautéed vegetables to bump up the vitamins in your meal.
Your body can also benefit from rice in other ways. There are various products that contain rice proteins and fibers as their main ingredients. These include rice lotion, which has shown signs of anti-aging, brown rice face masks which act both as a moisturizer that promotes cell growth but also as a “polish”. Brown rice hair masks are also great for shine and healthy growth.
We hope that this helped you work out the pros and cons of both kinds of rice. We recommend eating rice in your dishes. Brown rice is a clear winner of this battle but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t eat white rice. It just means that you should eat less of it. You don’t want empty calories too often.
We also recommend trying other brown rice derived products. You may just find a winner for both your dinner table and your beauty routine.