Is Brown Rice Really Healthier Than White Rice?

By Erin Cappiccie | August 26, 2014


A combination of hearsay and a $1 menu markup for “upgrading” has led many of us to believe that brown rice is healthier than its colorless counterpart. But given the myriad of money-making health hoaxes out there today, is brown rice actually healthier than white rice?

We’ve gone ahead and broke it down. But before we get started, let’s clarify some basics.

First, white rice and brown rice are the exact same grain. However, white rice is the stripped, polished and enriched version of that grain. The outer bran layer is removed so that it can enjoy a longer shelf life than brown rice, leaving it with a fraction of the nutrients.

On the other hand, brown rice is literally wrapped in nutrients, as its many health benefits are found in the hull - its outer, chewy bran layer. To elaborate, here are some top reasons why brown rice is getting you a bigger bang for your buck.

Brown rice is a producer and a protector.

Brown rice contains a significant amount of manganese, a dietary mineral that often falls under the radar. A serving of brown rice contains over 80% of your daily manganese requirements. Manganese helps to produce energy from protein and carbohydrates. During this rapid energy production, free radicals, highly reactive molecular compounds, can damage healthy cells. Manganese is an antioxidant that protects against the harm caused by free radicals.

Rice Advice: Get more mileage out of your meat by pairing it with a serving of brown rice.

Brown rice keeps you fuller, longer.

If you’re looking to manage weight, brown rice may be of assistance. Due to its high fiber content, your body digests brown rice much slower than white rice. Dietary fiber is broken down into soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and insoluble fiber (you guessed it) does not. The former attracts water to the stomach and forms a gel. This gel keeps food in your stomach longer, so your body can make use of the nutrients. Brown rice helps you enjoy a more prolonged fullness which may prevent you from shoveling down a second, unnecessary portion.

Rice Advice: Next time you dine out, have your meal with brown rice and enjoy your leftovers the next day.

Brown rice is a blood sugar manager.

Soluble fiber is a control freak. As it controls the breakdown of complex carbohydrates, it carefully manages the absorption and release of glucose (sugar) into the bloodstream. Brown rice helps to stabilize blood sugar levels, which is good news for those who are concerned with Type 2 diabetes. Researchers at Harvard found that replacing a serving of white rice with the same serving of brown rice could lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes by 16%.

Rice Advice: If you’re craving a hearty lunch that won’t induce a food coma, try a scoop of brown rice on your salad or in your soup.

Brown rice cleans out the gut.

The insoluble fiber found in brown rice can help keep you regular. Insoluble fiber binds with unused food and politely escorts it from your colon, keeping it clean and healthy. Toxins and cancer-causing cells can bind to that fiber, thus removing them from your colon wall. According to a recent study in Nutrition and Cancer, eating brown rice at least once per week can reduce the risk of developing potentially pre-cancerous growths by 40%.

Rice Advice: To detox after a wild weekend, skip the dramatic juice cleanse and load up on brown rice with leafy greens.

Brown rice isn’t just white rice with a tan. It’s the whole version of the food that is a better partner for producing energy and keeping you full and regular. So next time you have to decide whether or not to fork over an extra buck for going brown, at least now you know where your investment is going.