There’s a lot of rice out there. There’s a lot of individual grains of rice—but there’s also a lot of different types of rice. Rice can come in long-, short- and medium-grain varieties. And there’s also numerous colors such as red rice and black rice. But the two main types are white rice and brown rice. People love to pit these two against each other: brown rice vs white rice, white rice vs brown rice. Is brown rice better than white rice? Is brown rice healthier than white rice? Those simple questions don’t exactly have simple answers. Let’s take a look at the difference between brown rice and white rice!
Brown rice vs white rice: is brown rice better than white rice?
When it comes to brown vs white rice, the conventional wisdom for years has been that brown rice is healthy and white rice is bad. When you go out to a restaurant, a lot of times things come with a side of white rice and then there’s an upcharge to substitute the “healthier” brown rice option. Both brown rice and white rice can actually be a healthy part of a balanced diet. It just depends on what you’re looking for because they both have their own, unique nutritional value. To understand that, let’s take a look at what makes brown and white rice different.
What’s the difference between brown rice and white rice?
Rice has been eaten by humans for thousands of years. It’s a nutritious and relatively inexpensive grain that comes from a grass plant that grows in warm, wet environments. The big difference between brown rice and white rice is that brown rice is a whole grain while white rice is a refined version of that grain. Brown rice has three parts: the bran, the germ and the endosperm. The bran is the outermost layer and it contains fiber. The endosperm is the middle layer and it’s a starch. The germ has vitamins, protein, and fats. White rice is brown rice that has gone through a milling process that removes the bran layer and germ layer, leaving only the starch. In the U.S. and some other countries, white rice is enriched so that some of those nutrients removed in the milling process are added back in.
So, is brown rice healthier than white rice?
It’s hard to say that one rice is better than the other. Or that one is the most healthy. Brown rice could be considered healthier but that doesn’t make white rice unhealthy. As a whole grain, brown rice has more nutrients and a lower glycemic index, which is great for people watching their blood sugar levels. Eating whole grains has been associated with lowering the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Brown rice also has more fiber and protein than white rice. And brown rice is chock full of manganese, selenium, and Vitamin B3.
But brown rice can be a bit harder to cook and slightly more expensive than white rice. White rice is also easier on people’s stomachs. Folks that suffer from gastrointestinal distress may want the less fiber-packed option of white rice. Also, white rice can be good for folks who are super active. White rice provides simple carbs that provide a quick burst of energy. And, while white rice has a few less vitamins than brown rice, it has more folate.
Ultimately any kind of rice is a good starch to include in reasonable amounts in your diet, and the type of rice you choose can come down to what you want to get out of it, personal taste, or cultural tradition. I like to mix brown and white rice together then serve that on top of pasta and a baked potato. I call it starchy surprise! The surprise is that there’s two potatoes.