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Which is healthier brown or white rice?

Rice is one of the most widely consumed grains in the world. It is a dietary staple for many countries and cultures. Rice comes in several colors, but the most common are brown rice and white rice. Brown rice is the whole grain form that retains its bran and germ. White rice has had these nutritious parts removed during processing. This leaves white rice with very few essential nutrients. Brown rice is clearly the healthier choice over white rice due to its higher nutritional content.

Nutritional Differences

Brown rice and white rice have significant nutritional differences. Brown rice contains far more vitamins, minerals and fiber than white rice. This table compares the nutrition facts for 100 grams of cooked brown rice versus 100 grams of cooked white rice:

Nutrient Brown Rice White Rice
Calories 112 130
Carbs 23 g 28 g
Fiber 1.8 g 0.4 g
Protein 2.7 g 2.7 g
Fat 0.9 g 0.3 g
Manganese 1.1 mg (55% DV) 0.4 mg (19% DV)
Phosphorus 115 mg (12% DV) 35 mg (4% DV)
Vitamin B6 0.2 mg (11% DV) 0.1 mg (3% DV)
Niacin 4.3 mg (22% DV) 1.6 mg (8% DV)
Thiamin 0.2 mg (15% DV) 0.07 mg (5% DV)
Folate 8 mcg (2% DV) 7 mcg (2% DV)
Magnesium 43 mg (11% DV) 12 mg (3% DV)

As you can see, brown rice surpasses white rice in nearly every nutrient. It contains substantially more fiber, manganese, phosphorus, Vitamin B6, niacin, thiamin and magnesium. The only nutrient that white rice contains more of is folate, but the difference is negligible.

Clearly, brown rice has the nutritional advantage over white rice due to its whole grain form.

Fiber Content

One of the biggest differences between brown rice and white rice is their fiber content. Fiber has many health benefits including:

  • Improves digestive health
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Stabilizes blood sugar levels
  • Aids weight loss

Brown rice contains 1.8 grams of fiber per cooked cup. White rice contains only 0.4 grams of fiber. This makes brown rice over 4 times higher in fiber than white rice. The fiber in brown rice gives it a chewy, nutty texture that takes longer to digest. This results in more stable energy and blood sugar levels compared to white rice.

Protein Content

When comparing protein in brown rice vs white rice, there is no difference. Both contain 2.7 grams of protein per cooked cup. However, brown rice protein is higher quality than white rice protein. The protein in whole grains like brown rice contains more essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are those we must get from foods since our bodies cannot produce them.

Additionally, the fiber in brown rice slows its digestion. This results in a more prolonged protein absorption time compared to white rice. Therefore, brown rice provides protein that sticks with you longer.

Vitamins and Minerals

Brown rice trounces white rice when it comes to vitamins and minerals. As the nutrition table shows, brown rice contains substantially more manganese, phosphorus, Vitamin B6, niacin, thiamin and magnesium than white rice. Here is an overview of the benefits of these additional nutrients:


Manganese supports bone health and metabolism. It is also an essential component of enzymes needed for antioxidant function.


Phosphorus supports bone and teeth health. It is also essential for making ATP, the energy storage and transport molecule.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 aids over 100 enzyme reactions, including those involved in metabolism and immune function. It is also key for red blood cell formation.


Niacin, or vitamin B3, converts food into energy and promotes skin, nerve and digestive health.


Thiamin, or vitamin B1, supports energy production from carbohydrates and neurological function.


Magnesium is involved in over 600 bodily processes, including energy production, bone development and maintaining normal blood pressure.

White rice is highly refined, so most of these beneficial compounds are lost during processing. That is why brown rice provides 55% DV manganese per cooked cup, while white rice provides just 19% DV. The same holds true for the other nutrients listed.

Antioxidant Activity

In addition to vitamins and minerals, brown rice also provides beneficial plant compounds called phytonutrients or antioxidants. Diets high in antioxidants protect against chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Whole grains like brown rice contain antioxidants including:

  • Phenolic acids
  • Anthocyanins
  • Proanthocyanidins
  • Flavonoids
  • Lignans

These antioxidants are concentrated in the bran and germ of brown rice. Unfortunately, the bran and germ also contain oils that can spoil. This is why brown rice has a shorter shelf life than white rice.

Research shows that the antioxidants in brown rice help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress is an imbalance between free radical production and antioxidant defenses. It leads to chronic inflammation and disease.

Additionally, population studies link higher whole grain intake with reduced inflammation. Since brown rice is a 100% whole grain, it provides anti-inflammatory protection.

Arsenic Concerns

Brown rice contains more arsenic than white rice on average. However, arsenic levels depend more on where the rice is grown rather than the type of rice:

  • Rice grown in the southern U.S. is higher in arsenic.
  • Rice from California, India and Pakistan is lower in arsenic.
  • Brown basmati rice from California, India and Pakistan has very low arsenic.

In small amounts arsenic is detoxified and excreted by the body. But frequent consumption can lead to a build-up and toxicity. To minimize exposure, variety is important. Eat different types of rice grown in various regions if consuming rice frequently.

Glycemic Index

The glycemic index (GI) measures how much a carb food raises blood sugar. A lower GI is beneficial for controlling blood sugar and hunger. Brown rice has a GI of 50 while white rice has a GI of 73. Therefore, brown rice impacts blood sugar less drastically than white rice.

This happens because brown rice digests slower due to its fiber and antioxidant content. The prolonged digestion leads to a more gradual blood sugar curve compared to white rice. As a result, brown rice provides steady energy while white rice causes spikes and crashes.

Cooking Differences

Due to its protective bran, brown rice requires longer cooking times and more water compared to white rice. On average brown rice takes 30-45 minutes to cook while white rice takes 15-20 minutes. For fluffy grains, use 2 cups water for every 1 cup brown rice. After cooking, let the brown rice sit for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork.

The nutty flavor and chewy texture of brown rice gives it more personality than white rice. To boost flavor, try cooking brown rice in broth or coconut milk instead of water.

Storage Tips

Because the bran contains oils that can spoil, brown rice has a shorter shelf life than white rice. To maximize freshness:

  • Store brown rice in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • Use within 6 months.
  • Freeze for longer storage, up to 1 year.

Check for a rancid smell or taste before consuming if brown rice has been stored for a while.

Uses for Brown Rice

Brown rice works wonderfully in both savory and sweet dishes. Here are some tasty ways to use it:

  • Make a protein bowl with veggies, avocado and a poached egg.
  • Stir into soups, stews and chili.
  • Make rice pudding with cinnamon, raisins and almond milk.
  • Mix with herbs, feta and citrus for a Mediterranean salad.
  • Cook with coconut milk and top with mango for dessert.
  • Make brown rice risotto with mushrooms, greens and parmesan.

The options are endless! Brown rice gives you more nutrition than white rice for the same number of calories, while providing a hearty texture and nutty flavor.

Is Brown Rice Healthy?

Yes, brown rice is a very healthy whole grain. It provides substantial amounts of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants like manganese, phosphorus and magnesium. The fiber in brown rice aids digestion and heart health. It also helps stabilize blood sugar due to its low glycemic index.

Additionally, studies link the antioxidants in brown rice with reduced inflammation. This is beneficial for preventing chronic diseases associated with oxidative stress and inflammation.

Brown rice does take longer to cook and has a shorter shelf life than white rice. However, with some advanced planning, these factors are easy to accommodate. The nutritional benefits far outweigh any extra preparation required.

Overall, brown rice is a very healthy addition to one’s diet. Its substantial nutrition and fiber make it a superior choice over white rice.

Is Brown Rice Healthier Than White Rice?

Yes, brown rice is much healthier than white rice. It contains far more fiber, vitamins and minerals. Brown rice provides 1.8 grams of fiber per cooked cup compared to 0.4 grams in white rice. It also contains a lot more manganese, phosphorus, Vitamin B6, niacin, thiamin and magnesium.

Additionally, the phytonutrients in brown rice possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. Studies link this to health benefits like reduced oxidative stress and inflammation.

The fiber content gives brown rice a lower glycemic index, resulting in more stable blood sugar levels. Overall, the substantial nutrients and health-protective compounds make brown rice a very healthy choice.

Is Brown Rice Fattening?

No, brown rice is not fattening or high in calories. One cup of cooked brown rice provides about 220 calories. It is also very filling due to its high fiber content. Fiber promotes satiety and curbs overeating.

In fact, studies show that consuming brown rice instead of white rice can aid weight loss efforts. This is attributed to brown rice’s fiber, antioxidants and overall nutrition profile. Additionally, its low glycemic index helps control hunger and appetite.

Brown rice can easily be part of a healthy, balanced diet for weight management or weight loss. It provides steady energy and nutrients without unnecessary calories.


Brown rice is clearly superior to white rice in nutritional value. It outshines white rice in nearly every vitamin, mineral and antioxidant. The only nutrient white rice contains more of is folate, but the difference is minimal.

The fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in brown rice provide health benefits from better digestion to lower inflammation. Brown rice also helps stabilize blood sugar due to its high fiber content and lower glycemic index.

While brown rice requires more cooking time and has a shorter shelf life, these factors are easy to work around. The substantial nutritional differences make brown rice the obvious health winner over white rice.

Brown rice should be chosen over white rice whenever possible to gain more nutrition for the same number of calories. Its impressive nutrients and health benefits make brown rice a very healthy part of one’s regular diet.