Brown vs White Rice – Which Is Better For Your Health?

Brown vs White Rice – Which Is Better For Your Health?

By Kayla McDonell, RD |

Kayla is a Registered Dietitian who is passionate about nutrition education and counseling. She is the founder of “My Foodie Noodie,” where she offers a variety of consulting services She completed her BSc in dietetics from Mount Mary University and spent her initial working years providing nutrition education in a hospital setting. She then moved to Germany where she designed and implemented a successful weight loss and nutrition program. After traveling Europe and the U.K. for 6 months, she now calls the U.S. home In her free time, Kayla loves to visit farmer’s markets, travel and cook. She stays fit by doing resistance training at home, practicing yoga and eating real food.

In this write-up she delves on the aforesaid topic and looks at the benefits and drawbacks of both varieties. as below::

Rice is a versatile grain consumed by people around the world.It serves as a staple food for many people, especially those living in Asia.Rice comes in several colors, shapes and sizes, but the most popular are white and brown rice.White rice is the most commonly consumed type, but brown rice is widely recognized as a healthier option.Many people prefer brown rice for this reason.

All rice consists almost entirely of carbs, with small amounts of protein and practically no fat.

Brown rice is a whole grain. That means it contains all parts of the grain — including the fibrous bran, the nutritious germ and the carb-rich endosperm.White rice, on the other hand, has had the bran and germ removed, which are the most nutritious parts of the grain.This leaves white rice with very few essential nutrients, which is why brown rice is usually considered much healthier than white.

Brown rice has a big advantage over white rice when it comes to nutrient content. Brown rice has more fiber and antioxidants, as well as a lot more important vitamins and minerals. White rice is mostly a source of “empty” calories and carbs with very few essential nutrients. 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of cooked brown rice provide 1.8 grams of fiber, whereas 100 grams of white provide only 0.4 grams of fiber.

The list below shows a comparison of other vitamins and minerals:

•Thiamine: Brown has 6% of the RDI, while white has just 1%.

•Niacin: Brown has 8% of the RDI, while white has 2%.

•Vitamin B6: Brown has 7% of the RDI, while white has 5%.

•Manganese: Brown has 45% of the RDI, while white has 24%.

•Magnesium: Brown has 11% of the RDI, while white has 3%.

•Phosphorus: Brown has 8% of the RDI, while white has 4%.

•Iron: Brown has 2% of the RDI, while white has 1%.

•Zinc: Brown has 4% of the RDI, while white has 3%..

Antinutrients are plant compounds that may reduce your body’s ability to absorb certain nutrients. Brown rice contains an antinutrient known as phytic acid, or phytate. It may also contain higher amounts of arsenic, a toxic chemical.

Phytic Acid

While phytic acid may offer some health benefits, it also reduces your body’s ability to absorb iron and zinc from the diet. Over the long term, eating phytic acid with most meals may contribute to mineral deficiencies. However, this is very unlikely for people who eat a varied diet.


Brown rice may also be higher in a toxic chemical called arsenic. Arsenic is a heavy metal that is naturally present in the environment, but it has been increasing in some areas due to pollution. Significant amounts have been identified in rice and rice-based products). Arsenic is toxic. Long-term consumption may increase your risk of chronic diseases including cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Brown rice tends to be higher in arsenic than white rice ( However, this should not be a problem if you eat rice in moderation as part of a varied diet. A few servings per week should be fine. If rice is a big part of your diet, then you should take some steps to minimize the arsenic content. There are several effective tips.

Effects on Blood Sugar and Diabetes Risk

Brown rice is high in magnesium and fiber, both of which help control blood sugar levels. Research suggests that regularly eating whole grains, like brown rice, helps lower blood sugar levels and decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes. In one study, women who frequently ate whole grains had a 31% lower risk of type 2 diabetes than those who ate the fewest whole grains. Simply replacing white rice with brown has been shown to lower blood sugar levels and decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes On the other hand, high consumption of white rice has been linked to an increased risk of diabetes This may be due to its high glycemic index (GI), which measures how quickly a food increases blood sugar. Brown rice has a GI of 50 and white rice has a GI of 89, meaning that white increases blood sugar levels much faster than brown 27). Eating high-GI foods has been associated with several health conditions, including type 2 diabetes (28)..

Other Health Effects of White and Brown Rice

White and brown rice may affect other aspects of health differently as well. This includes heart disease risk, antioxidant levels and weight control.

Heart Disease Risk Factors

Brown rice contains lignans, plant compounds that can help protect against heart disease.Lignans have been shown to reduce the amount of fat in the blood, lower blood pressure and decrease inflammation in the arteries. Studies suggest that eating brown rice helps reduce several risk factors for heart disease.

An analysis of 45 studies found that people who ate the most whole grains, including brown rice, had a 16–21% lower risk of heart disease compared to people who ate the fewest whole grains .An analysis of 285,000 men and women found that eating an average of 2.5 servings of whole-grain foods each day may lower heart disease risk by almost 25% Whole grains like brown rice may also lower total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Brown rice has even been linked to an increase in HDL (“good”) cholestero

Antioxidant Status

The bran of brown rice contains many powerful antioxidants. Studies show that due to their antioxidant levels, whole grains like brown rice can help prevent chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes Studies also show that brown rice can help increase blood antioxidant levels in obese women. In addition, a recent animal study suggests that eating white rice may decrease blood antioxidant levels in type 2 diabetics.

Weight Control

Eating brown rice instead of white may also significantly reduce weight, body mass index (BMI) and circumference of the waist and hips. One study collected data on 29,683 adults and 15,280 children. The researchers found that the more whole grains people ate, the lower their body weight was. In another study, researchers followed more than 74,000 women for 12 years and found that women who consumed more whole grains consistently weighed less than women who consumed fewer whole grainsAdditionally, a randomized controlled trial in 40 overweight and obese women found that brown rice reduced body weight and waist size compared to white rice.

Which Type Should You Eat?

Brown rice is the best choice in terms of nutritional quality and health benefits. That said, either type of rice can be part of a healthy diet and there is nothing wrong with some white rice every now and then.


27 Replies

  • Imagine if brown rice and white rice were bullets; and brown rice had half the cartridge propellant of white.

    Would you, as a type 2 diabetic, think it would make a difference which bullet you would choose to load a pistol with whilst playing russian roulette?

  • :D :D :D

    Brown and white rice -- max diff it makes is 5% wrt spikes.

  • Mike Pollard

    This is a highly mischievous and derogatory reply to the posted article and insult to the author Kayla who is a Registered Dietitian who is passionate about nutrition education and counseling..Why should any body Imagine if brown rice and white rice were bullets; and brown rice had half the cartridge propellant of white.? What is the relevance of this analogy.?

    It is recorded that brown rice has glycemic index of 50 as compared 89 of white rice and brown rice does not spike blood sugar.Do you deny this?

  • anyway you did not get the 'absolute nonsense' certification

  • indiacratus

    yes. It requires another dietitian to comment on another diatician particularly matching her qualification ,Any such loose comment is sheer arrogance which no one should tolerate.let alone encourage.If at all any such certification can be given it can be only to this man.

  • My son, a computer engineer who just completed his engineering this year, writes on US stocks and an independent site ranks him great:

    Ranked #8 out of 5,404 bloggers (#18 of 9,551 overall experts)

    That's the world ranking, by the way and he make $$$ for 600 word articles :)

    He has 1480 stock traders as followers on one of the site where he writes -- and obviously gets paid too -- and followers are because of success rate of his calls (just like me here) -- and more followers means more earnings for every article that he wrote there:

    No qualification in finance or protfolio management, yet he makes $$$ (a lot of it) by blogging on US stocks on US sites since last 3 years (ever since he was in second year engineering) and ranking is based on calls. So much so for qualification, because his calls beat the calls of even some MBA finance guys with Goldman Sachs et al ;)

    Qualification is worthless if worthless and failed ideas are rehashed over and over again and repackaged as something new. So, degrees don't mean anything and above example proves it.

    Answer one question: Which management school did Michael Dell (of Dell brand) graduate from?

    I can quote umpteen such examples if you need just to prove that it's the "intelligence" -- sheer power of the grey matter -- that counts more than "paper degrees". So, let's not gloat over degrees and qualifications. Old concept, now is the age of SKILL.

  • Dear raoji,

    I will make a controversial statement.

    Both rice (..Any food .) will behave similarly till you reach the calorie limit.

    Good luck

  • iniacratus

    Within the calorie liimit brown rice with low gl index is a bettr substitute to white rice if one is addicted to rice and cant avoid as in most parts of India.

  • dear raoji and navinsinha,

    the gi mentioned by you is absolutely correct.

    but i will explain my controversial statement further.

    suppose a person requires 400 calories for a meal.

    part of it goes to present use and the rest goes to liver as glycogen.

    but if the liver ( and muscles)is loaded full

    then glucose accumulates in blood and the rate of accumulation is different..

    IE, above 400 calories the situation is different with respect to low gi food and high gi foods.

    one can say in maths terms :

    the rate of arrival of glucose into blood is more significant when

    if the rate of disposal from blood is poor.

    white rice is quicker in releasing the glucose compared to brown rice.

    i am not sure of the above the explanation. that is why i said controversial.the above given is only 'an' explanation.

    but one thing ... the split meal always works.i do practice split meal.

    my results:

    ppbs near 180 with full meal.

    ppbs with half meal 115.believe it or not.

    good luck.

  • not making any better difference. studies has shown that indian and pakistani rice have quantity of arsenic

  • dear qureshiuk,

    think that is about the rice in Bengal area .where water is arsenic containing.

  • navinsinha

    br rice has gl index of 50 as against 89 in case of white rice


    55 Vs 69, according to the Harvard Medical School.

  • I am a diabetic switched over to parboiled brown rice which is easily available in east coast of India. I seems to stay long in stomach , reducing hunger pangs and thus avoiding eating frequently. I feel better. I don't have BS results to substantiate the claim that it control;s BS levels.

  • Do test BS levels at 1 and 2 hrs after eating.

  • Thank you.

    Kindly suggest a simple and fairly accurate bs testing equipment at home.

  • Accu-chek active is the one that I use. Many that I know have switched to Accu-chek performa as strips costs turn out to be lower than active.

  • dear kvn2013 ,

    parboiling alters the molecular arrangements in a complex carbohydrate.

    more over parboiled rice expands less while cooking

    leading to think by people -they have eaten less ..

    but in fact more.

    it is the sum total effect that you feel less hunger.

    test ppbs only once after a meal

    ada =any time 1 to 2 hrs

    european union standard

    just 2 hrs after a meal.

    it is not spikes that are important.

    it is the time 'how long a raised bs remains' multiplied by the bs level itself .in simplifying and

    to standardize they give a standard.

    for people with high ppbs and normal fbs

    split meal is a solution.

    good luck.

  • indiacratus

    Would you please elaborate how you take split meal ? I'd like to learn. Thanks

  • dear suramo ,

    split meal means

    many small meal meals rather than three meals a day.

    second meal effect means

    take the protein portion of break first.

    both the above are standard recommendations.

    kindly see my article =is glycemic index.....conversation with ashka9 regarding bs rise at


  • indiacratus

    Thanks sir

  • indiacratus

    Thanks. I have read the conversation between you ashka and others. Well. How do you take split meals ? How many times snacks and meals and what interval ? How do you measure bs ?

  • dear suramo.

    may not be good to depend purely on my experience.because i am not serious about diet nowadays as far as glucose is concerned.

    my history...however

    my fbs 115 ppbs near180 some 15 years ago.

    i reduced my weight .

    fbs consistently reached below 100 ,

    but pp remained near 180 for many years.

    i had ignored it ...and said bye to diabetes or grand father and sister died of this hero/villain. diabetes...hence my deep interest runs in my family --mother side .

    i have been advising many people about split meal because it is standard advice.

    the term only is coined by me in this forum to converse with many.

    all the while i was not going for the split meal.

    then recently i came across the second meal effect.

    i thought of trying.

    when i tried with half the meal and

    2 hr,, ppbs found astonishingly down to 115.

    my meals are generally similar to the USDA food plate but for the non vegetables.

    i follow my own short cut method i had described recently.

    same plate volume /calorie served before me always but with variety .

    i take half the food and and keep the rest covered with another plate.

    after some time between 1 to 2 hrs i take the rest.haven't taken a1c recently.

    but sometimes i eat the second half within an hour.which made my daughter mock: father steels food from his own plate.

    for ppbs measurement i go strictly after two hours.--the UK standard.

    hope i have described fully.

    now the science:

    if the sum of the two aucs in the two half meal period is equal to the auc in full meal period ,

    then the world advice to have many small meals is just ridiculous.

    hence the basis of my hypothesis and the

    post. some where i lost track it looks ,though i attempt a perfect chain reasoning..

    good luck

  • indiacratus

    Thanks sir

    Would you please tell me you test your ppbs 2hrs after the first plate or the second plate ?

    You are all learned experienced people. I'd certainty be interested in knowing your experience and views.

  • dear suramo,

    the first plate only.i never tried after the second half .

    it never occurred to me that i may try that also.


  • suramo ,

    if people begin learning like me they all will be more or less like me only.

    what do i do?

    i search for the best book when i was in the university library.

    when internet came i

    did the same. which web site is AUTHENTIC and simple.

    the national institutes was my discovery.

    later i added , nhs uk ,mayo clinic and joslin and the university web sites.

    there is nothing unusual.. just move in the company of people with the right aspiration for learning.

  • i think this last sentence is

    self explaining

    " Brown rice is the best choice in terms of nutritional quality and health benefits. That said, either type of rice can be part of a healthy diet and there is nothing wrong with some white rice every now and then. "