Brown rice and white rice, the yin and yang of annoying diet arguments
Now to the average person, these two foods are easy to compare and the verdict has already been in for quite some time. Brown rice is the clean/healthy/good one, and white rice is the dirty/unhealthy/bad one.
The difference in glycemic index:
The glycemic index (GI) classifies foods based on how quickly and how high they raise blood sugar levels. The higher a food’s GI value is, the faster it will be digested and the faster/higher it will raise blood sugar levels. The lower a food’s GI value is, the slower it will be digested and the slower/lower it will raise blood sugar levels. Eating in accordance with the glycemic index (eating low GI foods/avoiding high GI foods) is often viewed as a great idea for everything from losing fat or preventing fat from being gained, to controlling hunger, to preventing heart disease, diabetes and more.
And guess what? White rice has a higher GI value than brown rice. Most people know this, and it’s typically the first reason given for why brown rice is the better choice.
Fiber, Protein, Micronutrients and Anti-Nutrients:
The next area that brown rice is said to have an advantage over white rice is nutritional content. Brown rice has more fiber, more protein and just more healthy nutrients overall. White rice on the other hand is just empty calories with little to no nutritional value.
Lundberg Brown Basmati vs. White Basmati
As you can see the differences, brown basmati has 1 more gram of protein and 1 more gram of fiber than white basmati.
So in terms of fiber and protein content, along with calorie/carb/fat content as well, the reality is that they are virtually identical.
If you’re trying to get more protein and/or fiber in your diet, the best option would be to combine your rice with something like chicken and vegetables. Now your meal will digest much slower, have much less impact on blood sugar, and provide a useful amount of protein and fiber.
Micronutrients and Anti-Nutrients
Alright, so fiber and protein didn’t quite pan out as the huge nutritional differences everyone makes them out to be. But what about all of those micronutrients that brown rice contains plenty of, that white rice don’t?
White rice is essentially just brown rice that has had its outer layers removed, and it’s those outer layers that contain various micronutrients. So when they’re removed during processing, many of those micronutrients are removed as well. For this reason, brown rice definitely does have the advantage over white rice in this area.
Third, a lot of white rice sold is enriched, which means it has added back in some of the micronutrients that were lost in the process explained above.
Another thing brown rice is higher in! Only this time that’s probably not a good thing. You see, all rice contains some amount of arsenic, as do many of the other things we consume on a daily basis (water, fruits, vegetables, grains, etc.). Brown rice just so happens to contain a whole lot more arsenic than white rice does.
So which one is better? It’s a tie, and that tie is likely best broken based on your own personal needs and preferences.