If you are like me, then knowing all the information, both positve and negative, on a subject is very important and crucial in your decision making process. Which brings me to the reason for this post. There is much debate over the consumption of white and brown rice – I needed to get to the bottom of it and see just what exactly the differences are.
So let’s get started. What fundamentally is the difference between white and brown rice? Brown rice is just white rice with the cover; the bran and germ that covers any type of grain. This makes it a whole grain, and as such it does contain more fiber, nutrients, and minerals than the processed and stripped white rice. Also, because of the additional nutrients, brown rice is touted as having less of an impact on the body’s glucose and insulin levels (in other words, it has a lower glycemic index than white rice).
But is that the end of the story? Does the presence of some extra fiber and some B vitamins make brown rice a white rice killer?
Turns out the story isn’t that simple (it never is). Here are some other facts to know about brown rice:
- The bran in rice is harder to digest for some people which causes bloating and digestion problems.
- It contains something called phytic acid. Phytic acid can combine with nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and copper, and prevent those valuables from being absorbed by your body.
- The germ of a whole grain also contains polyunsaturated fats, which are a no-no for strict health nuts.
As with anything, brown rice has some downsides as well. And let’s put things into perspective. Rice (brown or otherwise) is not a nutrient-dense food (though it IS calorie dense), so if you think you’re getting a ton of health benefits, you might want to consider:
- A medium sized apple has almost 3 times the amount of fiber as a cup of brown rice yet half as many calories.
- A cup of cooked spinach has 10 times as much potassium. A banana has 5 times.
- The glycemic index of brown rice is only about 20% lower than white rice.
There are literally billions of people around the world who eat white rice every day and have much lower cases of health issues and heart disease than most Americans. In the days before machining, early human gatherers would actually grind the whole grain rice to get rid of the bran and make it more palatable to eat. White rice is not an invention of the modern era, nor has it been causing health issues in epidemics.
So where do we end up here? As with anything, you need to educate yourself before making snap decisions about changing your diet. Rice, brown or white, is not exactly a health wonder food, so hopefully you’re looking at other parts of your diet as well.
Personally, I prefer brown rice. But if the brown causes you stomach pains, switch to the white. If you prefer the taste of white rice, then eat up! The nutritional difference is small, and by following my other tips on exercise and eating well, you will far offset any benefits offered by rice. Just make sure to watch those portion sizes. A healthy lifestyle is just as much about making smart decisions that make you happy as it is about pure nutritional numbers.
Life is better in a bikini!