White Rice vs. Brown Rice: Which is Healthier?


White rice, brown rice, wild rice, SO MANY RICES! And with so much conflicting information out there about which one is better for you, how are you ever supposed to know for sure?

Rice can be an awesome addition to any sort of diet, this much is true. With the Standard American Diet suggesting "whole grains" as the base of a healthy food pyramid, and everyone pretty much agreeing that processed foods aren't really the pinnacle of health when eaten in large amounts, brown rice is the no brainer heather option, right?

As it turns out, not so much. Here's why white rice might be the better option for you, IMO, of course.


Brown rice is less processed and therefore has more nutrients than white rice, right?  Not entirely.  Brown rice is less processed, yes.  After all, the reason it's brown is because it still has the bran and germ (husk) attached to the grain, whereas white rice that has those components stripped away during milling.  

But! Just because it's less processed doesn't mean it's more nutritious, and here's why: when you take into account that the husk itself contains antinutrients that actually prohibit nutrient absorption, like phytates, which bind to nutrients like magnesium and calcium and prohibit their absorption, those "nutrients" don't amount to much. (Soaking your grains can lessen these but will not remove them entirely, but removing the bran/husk altogether will).

 Lectins are another thing present in the husk of brown rice, though not as potent as the lectins found in gluten, they still inhibit nutrient absorption and can make your gut lining less than happy.  Another class of antinutrients found in the husk of rice are trypsin inhibitors-- trypsin is an enzyme that is essential for protein digestion, and when trypsin isn't present (or it is inhibited), we can't digest any protein consumed with the rice properly.  

Between all the antinutrients and potential gut irritants found in the husk of a grain of rice, you can begin to see why brown rice might not be the better choice, after all. But what are you left with when you strip the grain down, and what good could it possibly be to your health? 



I don't want to make you sad but you should know that (any form of!) rice does not offer much by way of vitamins or minerals, period. It's not really what I'd call a nutrient-dense food (sweet potatoes, turnips, plantains bring a little more to the table).

But!  What white rice does offer is a  simple, easy to digest, easily absorbable (and tasty!) form of glucose, which is perfect after an intense, tough workout to replenish depleted glycogen levels. I'd recommend eating it with a some protein and a little fat, which will help balance out any potential rise in blood sugar.

Note: if you are at all:  Insulin resistant, have any autoimmune condition, have a leaky gut, are trying to lean out or lose weight, or just very sensitive to grains, rice just might not be a part of your individual  diet.



Ding ding ding! We have a winner! White rice is the clear winner in the brown vs white rice debate, because it lacks the gut irritating and anti-nutrient compounds found in brown rice. For most people, white rice can be a happy addition to their post workout re-fueling or protein centered healthy meals.

And remember that the most important note to ANY healthy diet is that it's one that you enjoy! So if you just plan like brown rice better, far be it from me to say you shouldn't enjoy it. 

Happy nomming!

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