Brown vs. White: The Case of the Rices

Brown vs. White: The Case of the Rices

Question: Is Brown rice really better than white rice?

Answer: When it comes to eating grains, whole grains are better than refined and browns are better than whites. Whole grains, like brown rice, are the healthier choice, but what’s the real difference?

 The Physical Difference
A whole grain has three parts: the germ, bran, and endosperm. When all of these parts remain intact, the grain is considered whole. The bran gives brown rice its color. During processing, the germ and bran are often removed, leaving only the starchy (white) endosperm. The endosperm is the largest part of the grain, but it contains the least nutrients. 

The Nutrient Difference
Brown rice has the germ and bran of the grain intact. These components add a number of nutrients that white rice is lacking. The bran provides fiber and the germ provides protein. They also provide a rich supply of B-vitamins, magnesium, manganese, iron, phosphorous, potassium, and zinc. While white rice has similar nutrients, they’re found in much smaller amounts. B-vitamins (thiamin and niacin specifically) and iron are destroyed when white rice is processed. The FDA requires food manufacturers to add them back in to help avoid nutrient deficiencies. Magnesium is not added back, though. Check out the difference:

Brown rice (1 cup cooked)
Calories: 216
Fiber: 4 grams
Magnesium: 84 milligrams (21% of daily recommendation)
Phosphorus: 162 milligrams (16% of daily recommendation)

White rice (1 cup cooked)
Calories: 205
Fiber: 1 gram
Magnesium: 19 milligrams (5% of daily recommendation)
Phosphorus: 68 milligrams (7% of daily recommendation)

Magnesium helps muscles contract and relax and aids in the creation of energy. Phosphorus helps build and maintain strong bones and teeth. It also assists the body to use carbohydrates and fats, and helps form new protein.

The Cooking Difference
Brown rice takes a bit longer to cook than white rice because of the bran layer. White rice cooks up fluffier, but brown rice has a nuttier flavor and chewy texture. Serve as a side with simple seasonings or add chopped veggies, like cucumber and red bell peppers, with a splash of olive oil and white balsamic vinegar. It also works great in your favorite stir-fry dish while packing in those extra vitamins and minerals.

The Healthier Choice: Based on the nutrients, flavor, and versatility, brown rice is the healthier choice. Half to ¾ of a cup is an appropriate portion of brown rice as part of a meal. What if brown rice just won’t cut it as part of a particular dish? It’s okay to have white once in awhile, but choose brown whenever possible.

TELL TOBY: What’s your favorite way to enjoy brown rice?


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