No, brown rice is not healthier than white rice

For centuries, rice has been an important ingredient in several cultures in China, Japan, India, Korea, and other Asian countries for thousands of years. According to the Rice Association, more than 40,000 varieties of rice exist but the exact number is unknown. In recent years, modern diet culture has continued to promote the notion that brown rice is healthier than white rice.

So is that really true? Let’s look at the facts.

What is the difference between brown rice and white rice?

Brown rice is whole grain while white rice is not. Brown rice has the bran and germ intact, while white rice has been refined to remove these. With a tough outer layer of bran, it usually takes longer to cook and creates a chewier texture. The nutrients in brown rice are retained better because they are in the bran and germ, so white rice has significantly fewer nutrients.

Photo by Luigi Pozzoli from Unsplash

Why do people say brown rice is healthier?

It is generally accepted that whole grains are preferable to white, refined grains. This applies to breads, cereals, etc. Since brown rice is considered a whole grain, it is immediately considered healthier. Because the bran is intact, it has a bit more fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Research also shows that brown rice digests more slowly than white rice, which has a positive impact on blood sugar stability.

That is it Actually healthier?

Brown rice has a slight advantage over white rice, but it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Here’s why:

1. Fiber

On average, there is only about one gram of fiber per cup of brown rice, while white rice has none. The recommended daily amount of fiber is nearly 25 grams, meaning brown rice doesn’t make a significant difference in your fiber intake.

2. Arsenic

Arsenic, a heavy metal, is often found in much higher levels in brown rice. In fact, it contains nearly 80% more arsenic than white rice. While it’s not a huge concern unless you eat a mostly rice-based diet, it’s something to keep in mind. We are already exposed to arsenic and other heavy metals through water and other environmental factors, so it doesn’t hurt to reduce exposure through food where possible.

3. Poor ability to absorb nutrients

Brown rice contains lots of magnesium, iron, selenium and zinc. However, that doesn’t mean you get it all. Brown rice is rich in phytic acid, more than white rice. Phytic acid is a carb molecule that has been shown to have antioxidant benefits, but it also binds to minerals like zinc and iron.

So even though brown rice may have more minerals, your body won’t fully absorb them due to its phytic acid content. Many other fruits, vegetables, meat and seafood contain a lot of minerals.

4. Blood sugar

Brown rice has been shown to digest more slowly and does not cause blood sugar spikes. White rice digests faster and can cause spikes. However, most of us don’t just eat rice. Generally, it is combined with protein and some vegetables. After all, the classic gym-goer meal is chicken, rice, And broccoli. When refined carbs are combined with protein, healthy fats, and fiber, your blood sugar responds much better than if you just ate carbs.

Bottom line

Whether you eat brown rice or white rice will always depend on personal preference. Some people like brown rice, and that’s okay. If you’re a fan of white rice, try combining it with protein, healthy fats, and fiber-rich vegetables to slow digestion and make the meal more filling.

The main issue is how brown rice is considered healthier than white rice when everything is not so dry and pre-cut. Additionally, labeling white rice as a “bad” food continues to perpetuate the idea that healthy foods must fit into standard Western stereotypes. Cultures around the world have been eating white rice for centuries and this needs to be recognized.

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