Between White and Brown Rice Which is better? Find Out!

White and Brown Rice

Rice comes under the macronutrient—carbohydrates (carbs/CHO) category. It is also a good source of protein, containing numerous vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols (depending on the amount of processing).

Types of Rice by Size and Shape

Commercially, more than 2000 varieties of rice are cultivated around the globe. About 85% of consumed rice is in the form of polished white rice.

Long Grain rice has grains that are long and slim. When cooked, the grains tend to remain separate, and the finished product has a dry and firm consistency. Basmati rice, sticky Chinese rice, and Jasmine rice fall under this category.

Medium Grain rice: Paella rice and Arbario rice (used to make Risotto) fall under this category.

Short Grain rice: Tend to be more sticky like Sushi rice.

Is one type of rice better than another?

rice fields being sprayed
rice fields being sprayed

Short answer: Yes and No, the size of the grain doesn’t affect its nutrient value but here’s what does:

  • Cooking times and the amount of liquid used affects rice nutritional content. Heat (cooking) denatures the resistant starch—fiber. Foods with higher concentrations of resistant starch contain more digestive benefits including better glycemic index (GI), steadier blood sugar delivery and slower insulin spike. So, steamed rice would be a better option than risotto for example. Steamed rice uses less liquid than risotto, as well it is not broken down as much in the cooking process.

  • More than the size, it is the type of CHO present in the grain that should be considered. In reference to long grain rice, like Basmati and Jasmine; white Jasmine rice comes in different varieties, containing different GI values between 48-109. In general, white Basmati rice has a lower GI value (52-57).

  • The important consideration is the growing practices, local availability, soil conditions, and so on to choose the best rice for you. Freshly harvested, locally grown in rich-soil rice will trump in nutrient-quality over any grain size significance.

Brown rice is a natural food product and like all-natural things, it too goes bad—rancid. In ancient times, before the development of better storage methods, irrigation advancements—it was essential to store food for leaner days. Hence, the processing of rice from brown to white by removing the husk results in a longer shelf-life.

White vs. Brown Rice

White rice is the result of removing the brain layer to yield a milled or polished product. This also strips off the bran-rich nutrients. Several cohort studies indicate that higher white rice intake is associated with an elevated risk of diabetes. (Kazemzadeh 2014).

By milling and polishing brown rice and converting it to white rice, 50% fiber, 84% magnesium, and 69% of total fatty acids (MUFA and PUFA) have been eliminated respectively. By law, food products must contain certain amounts of fiber, vitamins, and minerals which are often added back to white rice (supplemented or “enriched”).

Brown rice is a whole grain. It contains all parts of the grain — including fibrous bran, nutritious germ, and carb-rich endosperm. It is produced by removing the paddy hull (un-edible portion) and is composed of bran, endosperm, and embryo. This makes brown rice high in dietary fiber, protein, and micronutrients such as iron, magnesium, zinc, manganese, selenium, B-complex vitamins, and polyphenols.

Brown and white rice have similar amounts of calories and macronutrients per serving. Furthermore, the glycemic index values are only marginally different in favor of brown rice.

Benefits of Brown Rice

  • Fiber – BR has up to four times more fiber than WR. The benefits of fiber are discussed elsewhere.

  • Improved Gut flora – Fiber is beneficial towards good gut bacteria and is liked to weight loss.

  • Satiety – more filling due to greater fiber content.

  • Micronutrient-rich – vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, especially from the germ

  • Low glycemic index – BR produces lower blood glucose spike compared to WR. BR (boiled) has GI of 55 and GL of 18 for 1 cup. Comparable WR size contains GI of 64 and GL of 23. Low glycemic foods contain GIs of 55 or less. The glycemic load of 11-19 is a medium glycemic index food.

  • Weight loss – due to the above-mentioned benefits.

  • Type 2 Diabetes (T2D): Sun compared data from previous studies (conducted between 1986-2006), and selected data for over 39 thousand men and 157 thousand women in reference to T2D risk and consumption of white and brown rice. Conclusion: Regular consumption of white rice was associated with a higher risk of T2D, whereas brown rice intake was associated with lower risk. These BR vs WR study associations were independent of lifestyle and dietary risk factors for T2D, as well as ethnicity.


  • Longer cooking time.

  • Taste: BR has a nutty flavor that is both satisfying and filling but the majority of people prefer the taste of WR. 

From personal experience, you need time to become accustomed to the taste of BR and over time develop a preference over WR. Introducing children to BR early on incrementally trains flavor recognition of that food, leading to association and liking of BR over WR.

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