Is rice a staple part of your diet? Have you ever wondered, how many types of rice there are? What is the difference between brown rice and white rice and do they have different impacts on people? We’ll find out all that in this article. 

Brown rice vs. White rice

But before that, are there any harmful side effects of consuming brown rice or white rice? Are they fatal in large doses or in long term consumption? Please read on to find out.

 

What is Brown & White rice? What are the differences between them?

Before we go into the differences between brown rice and white rice, let us first understand the structure of a rice grain. When a rice grain first sprouts, it has four layers in it namely: the husk, the bran, the endosperm, and the germ. 

Brown rice vs. White rice

The husk is the protective layer of the rice grain, which is black. It is inedible and is the first to be discarded or filtered in the milling process. The next layer is the bran, which brown. It is edible but gives a nutty taste to the rice grains. This layer is highly nutritious and contains a lot of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fiber.

Brown rice has the bran intact and therefore consists of three layers namely: the bran, the endosperm, and the germ. Brown rice is further milled to get white rice. White rice as the name suggests is white and has only two layers namely: the endosperm and the germ. 

White rice is generally less nutritious than brown rice as it has the nutritious bran layer removed. It contains only a fraction of the nutrients that brown rice contains. White rice is easier and faster to cook than brown rice and tastes better. It has a plain taste and gels well with many sauces, stews, and spices.   

The germ is the innermost and the most nutritious layer of a rice grain. It is packed with vitamins, minerals, and protein. Trace amounts of fiber are also present. The germ layer is very small and is so-called because of a metaphorical comparison made to the size of a germ. 

So far what we have seen is that white rice and brown rice differ in their color, texture, taste, preparation time, ease of preparation, and nutrition value. We shall discuss the differences in their nutrition levels in detail later on in this article.

 

Are There Any Nutritional differences between them?

Now, let us discuss their nutritional differences in detail. This research was conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture National. One cup (186 grams) of white and brown rice have the following amount of nutrients:

Nutrients White Rice Brown Rice
Iron (mg) 2.8 1.1
Thiamin (mg)  0.3 0.4
Niacin (mg)  3.4 5.2
Vitamin B6 (mg) 0.1 0.3
Folate (mcg) 108 18.2
Phosphorous (mg) 68.8 208
Magnesium (mg) 24.2 78.8
Zinc (mg)  0.8 1.4
Selenium (mcg)  14 11.7
Copper (mg)  0.1 0.2
Manganese (mg) 0.7 2.0
Kilocalories 242 248
Protein (mg) 4.43 5.54
Fat (mg) 0.39 1.96
Carbohydrates (mg) 53.2 51.7
Fiber (mg) 0.56 3.23

 

White rice is richer in Iron, Folate, Selenium, and Carbs but brown rice is richer in all the other nutrients. Nowadays, many governments are enriching white rice with many nutrients that bridge the nutrition gap between brown and white rice.

In the above chart, the abbreviation ‘mg’ means milligrams and the abbreviation ‘mcg’ means micrograms.

 

Is brown rice actually healthier than white rice? Research-based on scientific proof.

Brown rice is richer than white rice in many nutrients like fiber, protein, Magnesium, Phosphorous, etcetera, which is good but it also has more calories and fat than white rice, which is not desirable. 

White rice vs. brown rice

Brown rice takes a longer time to cook, making it infeasible to cook on a daily basis. Since it has more insoluble fiber than white rice, it also takes a longer time to digest, which may or may not be desirable depending on circumstances.

The rice crop is more efficient in absorbing the toxic metal Arsenic, present in the soil than other crops and this absorbed Arsenic is stored in the bran layer of rice grains. Hence, consuming brown rice frequently may poison you and lead to health issues in the future. 

The brown rice from Canada, India, and Pakistan contain the least amounts of Arsenic and are the healthiest in the world.

 

Does Brown Rice Actually Contain More Vitamins and Minerals than White rice?

The rice crop is more efficient at absorbing nutrients from the soil than other crops. Most of the nutrients absorbed by the rice crop are stored in its bran layer. The bran layer is retained in brown rice. 

This makes brown rice much more nutritious than white rice and gives it its nutty taste. Here is a chart comparing the nutrients present in 186 grams of white and brown rice.

Nutrients White Rice Brown Rice
Iron (mg) 2.8 1.1
Thiamin (mg)  0.3 0.4
Niacin (mg)  3.4 5.2
Vitamin B6 (mg) 0.1 0.3
Folate (mcg) 108 18.2
Phosphorous (mg) 68.8 208
Magnesium (mg) 24.2 78.8
Zinc (mg)  0.8 1.4
Selenium (mcg)  14 11.7
Copper (mg)  0.1 0.2
Manganese (mg) 0.7 2.0
Kilocalories 242 248
Protein (mg) 4.43 5.54
Fat (mg) 0.39 1.96
Carbohydrates (mg) 53.2 51.7
Fiber (mg) 0.56 3.23

 

The rice crop is also more efficient at absorbing the toxic metal, Arsenic, than other crops. This toxic metal also gets stored in the bran layer of rice grains along with other nutrients. This can make frequent consumption of brown rice dangerous. 

During the medieval ages, Arsenic was only present in trace amounts in the soil and water bodies. Since the industrial revolution, however, Arsenic concentration in the soil and water bodies has been on the rise. 

The brown rice cultivated in India, Pakistan, and Canada have minimal amounts of Arsenic present in them and are considered the healthiest in the world. 

Arsenic can have varying harmful impacts on one’s health, depending on the dosage consumed.

Ingestion of small amounts of Arsenic occasionally causes these temporary ill effects

  • Headache.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Disorientation.
  • Diarrhea.

Consumption of even small amounts of Arsenic on a regular basis can lead to these severe health impacts

  • A metallic, sour taste in the mouth.
  • Excess saliva generation in the mouth.
  • Problems in swallowing and vomiting (Peristalsis and Antiperistalsis problem).
  • Blood coming along with urine.
  • Frequent muscle cramps.
  • Significant hair loss.
  • Stomach ulcers.
  • Delusions and disorientation.
  • Excess sweating
  • Various types of cancers.
  • Liver disorders.
  • Diabetes (all types).
  • Nervous weakness and numbness in nerves.
  • Indigestion due to the rupture of the walls of the stomach and intestines.

While brown rice is definitely more healthy than white rice if consumed occasionally, it can be harmful to one’s health if consumed regularly. 

If you like brown rice over white rice and want to consume it regularly, at least consume brown rice from India, Pakistan or Canada as they are the healthiest varieties of brown rice and have the least amounts of Arsenic.

 

White rice is easier to digest? How much time does it take for the digestion? 

The bran layer of rice has most of the fiber present in rice. Hence, brown rice, with its bran layer intact, takes a longer time to digest than white rice. Brown rice takes 1.5 hours to digest completely whereas plain white rice takes just about an hour to digest completely. 

Brown rice can be quite useful to you if you want to control your hunger cravings but white rice can be quite useful to you if you need a quick release of energy to do any kind of work like running, jogging, cycling or any household work.

Brown vs. white rice

Consumption of brown rice is advised to those who have Diarrhea, Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), heartburns, or nausea. White rice is often consumed by athletes, weight lifters, and people who do heavy-duty work. The common man can consume both these varieties of rice without any problems.

White rice is a rich source of carbohydrates? Is this good or bad for you?

Both brown rice and white rice have almost equal amounts of carbs and calories. So they don’t really make much of a difference in that sense. However, white rice is easier and quicker to digest than brown rice due to its low fiber content. 

Therefore white rice can give you the same amount of energy faster than brown rice. White rice is preferred by athletes, weight-lifters, and people who do heavy-duty work as it gives them a quick release of energy that they need to do their tasks. 

White rice contains abundant carbs which are then broken down (metabolized) into glucose, which in turn are broken down into glycogen. Glycogen is an important nutrient that aids in healing the wear and tear in muscle fibers after the heavy workouts that athletes do. 

The common man, however, must be slightly careful when consuming white rice on a regular basis. Most people don’t do as much work for the number of carbs and calories they consume. The unused calories in their bodies then get converted to fat and stored in various parts of their bodies. 

Thus the common man will put on fat and weight if he consumes a lot of white rice on a regular basis without doing the appropriate amount of work. In other words, he will put on a ‘pot belly’. You don’t want to be one among them, do you? So workout regularly if you eat white rice regularly.

 

What’s the amount of High Arsenic content in brown rice?

The rice crop is more efficient at absorbing nutrients from the soil than other crops. However, it is also more efficient at absorbing the toxic, heavy metal, Arsenic from the soil than other crops. The absorbed Arsenic is stored in the bran layer of rice grains.

Moreover, the Arsenic absorbed by the rice crop is stored in its bran layer in the form of inorganic Arsenic, which is far more toxic than its organic form. The Basmati variety of rice has on average far less Arsenic than regular varieties of rice (it’s also slightly costlier). So consume Basmati rice on a regular basis if you can.

White vs. brown rice

Brown rice has its bran layer intact. So it naturally has far more Arsenic than white rice, which has its bran layer removed in the milling process. One cup (186 grams) of brown rice has an average of about 80 mcg (micrograms) of Arsenic. 

This number is only about 40 micrograms of Arsenic for the brown rice grown in India, Pakistan, Canada, and southeastern states of the US. Basmati brown rice has only about 20 mcg of Arsenic per cup (186 grams).

Arsenic if consumed regularly can cause ill effects like

  • Various types of cancers.
  • Indigestion due to the rupture of the walls of the stomach and intestines.
  • Nervous weakness and numbness in nerves.
  • Liver disorders.
  • Diabetes of any type (usually type 2).

White rice is low in toxins? Should you be concerned about it?

The bran layer of rice has most of the nutrients present in rice. Sometimes, due to soil conditions and industrial activity, it (the bran layer) can contain the toxic heavy metal, Arsenic. White rice has its bran layer removed or filtered in the milling process. 

Hence, it is non-toxic and safe to consume in large amounts, unlike brown rice. This is one of the major advantages of consuming white rice. Though it has fewer nutrients than brown rice, it is non-toxic (unless adulterated) and safe to consume on a regular basis.

 

Does Brown Rice have too much fiber? Is it good or bad for your health?

Brown rice has its bran layer intact and hence, has more fiber than white rice. It must be noted that the fiber present in brown rice is bulky, insoluble fiber. It does not get digested by our stomachs and gets accumulated in our intestines.

White rice vs brown rice nutrition

The insoluble fiber present in brown rice can help in

  • Curing Diarrhea.
  • Cure Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
  • Preventing Colorectal Cancer.
  • Prevent yeast and fungus growth/outbreaks on our skins that lead to acne. 
  • Reduce LDL or bad cholesterol in our bodies.

Brown rice definitely has far more fiber than white rice but that does not mean that it has excess fiber that will cause you problems like indigestion. When compared to the amount of fiber present in wheat products, pulses, and vegetables, the amount of fiber present in brown rice is paltry. It is not a great fiber supplement.

 

Is it true that Brown rice takes away the vitamins off your body? According to scientific research.

The rice bran in brown rice is also rich in a compound called Phytic Acid. Phytic Acid reacts with the Iron and Zinc in our bloodstream to form compounds that cannot be absorbed/metabolized by our cells.

Brown rice vs. White rice

Thus Phytic Acid prevents mineral absorption by our cells. For this reason, it is also called an anti-nutrient compound. Regular intakes of brown rice can result in Iron and Zinc deficiencies in our bodies.

Iron deficiency in our bodies can lead to

Iron deficiency is also called Anemia. Iron is required to make the pigment, hemoglobin, which helps in supplying oxygen throughout the body. Deficiency of Iron in our bodies leads to the following symptoms:

  • Feeling fatigued and drowsy often.
  • Paling of the skin.
  • Shortness of breath or Oxygen deficiency in the body. 
  • Frequent headaches and dizziness.
  • Heart Palpitations or high pulse rate because your heart has to work extra hard to supply oxygen throughout your body.  
  • Swelling in tongue and mouth.
  • Nervous weakness.
  • Brittle nails.

Zinc deficiencies in our bodies can lead to

Zinc is a micronutrient that we need for smooth bowel functions and the proper functioning of our digestive system. Deficiency of zinc in our bodies leads to:

  • Less sensitive nose.
  • Anorexia (loss of appetite).
  • Irritability.
  • Degraded immunity.
  • Depression.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Significant hair loss.
  • Fine tremor (unintentional muscle movement).
  • Reduced intellectual capacity. 
  • Memory loss/forgetfulness.
  • Wounds will take a long time to clot/heal (deficiency of Fibrinogen pigment).
  • Some forms of dermatitis.
  • White spots on nails.

Since mineral deficiencies in our bodies can lead to so many health problems, I would advise you, folks, not to take brown rice on a regular basis. Have it once or twice a week. That’s it.

 

Is White rice rich in starch? By how much as compared to brown rice?

White rice varieties and brown rice varieties have similar amounts of carbs and calories. So if you’re thinking of consuming brown rice to reduce your calories stock, it won’t work. You can refer to the nutrition table mentioned before to confirm this fact.

White rice vs. brown rice

Both white rice and brown rice have different varieties that vary in their starch content, depending on their size. They can be classified into three broad categories depending on their size. They are:

Short Grain Rice

Short grains have almost no length. They are almost circular in shape. They have a very high starch content. They become soft and sticky when cooked. They clump together when cooked.

These characteristics make them ideal for making dishes like sushi, paella, or risotto. The substance present in this variety of rice that makes it clump together after cooking is called Amylopectin.

Medium Grain Rice

Medium grain rice has an average length of a few millimeters. They have lesser starch content than short-grain rice. They are softer than short-grain rice and may or may not clump together when cooked. They are the most widely used variety of rice in cooking.

Long Grain Rice

These grains are of the highest quality. They are also slightly more expensive than other varieties of rice. They contain the least amount of Amylopectin and do not clump together at all when cooked. 

They are relatively high in nutrients. They also contain the least amount of toxins (like Arsenic) and starch when compared to other varieties of rice. They are the ideal variety of rice. 

You can consume brown rice if you want more nutrients and want to feel fuller for a longer time. You can consume white rice if you want a quick release of energy or have digestion problems. 

The white and brown rice varieties from India, Pakistan, Canada and the southeastern states of the US are the healthiest and safest to consume.

Is White rice your source of folate?

Both white rice and brown rice contain folate but white rice is ten times richer in folate than brown rice. I will list the nutrition chart again so that you can refer.

Nutrients White Rice Brown Rice
Iron (mg) 2.8 1.1
Thiamin (mg)  0.3 0.4
Niacin (mg)  3.4 5.2
Vitamin B6 (mg) 0.1 0.3
Folate (mcg) 108 18.2
Phosphorous (mg) 68.8 208
Magnesium (mg) 24.2 78.8
Zinc (mg)  0.8 1.4
Selenium (mcg)  14 11.7
Copper (mg)  0.1 0.2
Manganese (mg) 0.7 2.0
Kilocalories 242 248
Protein (mg) 4.43 5.54
Fat (mg) 0.39 1.96
Carbohydrates (mg) 53.2 51.7
Fiber (mg) 0.56 3.23

 

In the chart above, mg means milligrams and mcg means micrograms. As you can see white rice contains almost ten times the amount of folate that brown rice does. 

Folate is a form of Vitamin B9 that helps your body make genetic material like DNA. It also aids in cell division. It is especially useful for women during pregnancy.

Does white rice have a higher Glycemic index? A deep comparison between rice.

Before comparing the two varieties of rice. You must have an idea of what the Glycemic Index (GI) is. GI is a measure of how quickly a food item can be converted into glucose by our body. The higher the GI of a food item, the quicker it is digested, and the more quickly it gives one energy. 

There are different slabs to measure GI. They are low, medium and high and they have different ranges. Given below is a table showing their ranges.

GI Range (Value) Description
0 to 50 Low
51 to 70 Medium
70 and above High

 

White rice has a moderate GI of 70 and brown rice has a low GI of 50. This means that white rice can be digested quickly and releases energy quicker than brown rice. 

You might be wondering that brown rice and white rice have almost the same amount of carbs and calories, then how does brown rice have a much lower GI? The answer is that brown rice has its bran layer intact, which has more fiber than white rice. 

Fiber degrades the absorption of sugar (glucose) by our cells and the production of glucose in our bodies. It also slows down the process of digestion and makes us feel fuller for a longer duration. 

So, despite brown and white rice having similar amounts of carbs and calories, brown rice has a lower GI than white rice due to its high fiber content. 

If you want energy within a short span of time, consume white rice as it has a moderate GI of 70. If you want more nutrients and if you want to feel fuller for a longer period of time, consume brown rice as it has more fiber and other nutrients.

Does the rice matters for weight loss, if yes then which rice can be consumed for weight loss and weight gain?

Both brown and white rice are high in carbs and calories, which if not burnt can get converted to fat and stored in the body. Consuming rice of any kind will not serve the purpose of losing weight. It will, in fact, be counter-productive. If you want to lose weight and fat, you must try some negative calorie foods or do exercise on a regular basis.

 

Which Rice is a preference in the case of Diet? According to the latest survey

Which rice you would prefer depends mostly on your requirements. If you want more nutrition in your diet or if you’re suffering from Diarrhea or if you want to feel fuller for a longer duration of time, you must consume brown rice as it has fiber in its bran layer, which helps with all of the above-mentioned requirements.

Brown vs. white rice

If you’re an athlete or if you do heavy-duty work on a regular basis, you must consume white rice as it gives you a lot of energy quickly and is free of toxins like Arsenic. As far as the common folks are concerned, they prefer white rice (according to a research conducted in the US) for the following reasons:

  • It is easier to cook than brown rice.
  • It takes lesser time to cook than brown rice.  
  • It tastes better than brown rice. 
  • Its plain taste gels well with many sauces, spices, and stews around the world.
  • It is free of toxins like Arsenic, which is found in brown rice.
  • It has a decent amount of nutrients. Enriched white rice (which is becoming more common) is almost equal to brown rice in nutritional value.

Which rice is good to consume for bodybuilding? Does it really work?

To answer this question, let me show you the nutrition table of rice again. I know that you’re getting tired of this by now but it’s only for your convenience or quick referral.

Nutrients White Rice Brown Rice
Iron (mg) 2.8 1.1
Thiamin (mg)  0.3 0.4
Niacin (mg)  3.4 5.2
Vitamin B6 (mg) 0.1 0.3
Folate (mcg) 108 18.2
Phosphorous (mg) 68.8 208
Magnesium (mg) 24.2 78.8
Zinc (mg)  0.8 1.4
Selenium (mcg)  14 11.7
Copper (mg)  0.1 0.2
Manganese (mg) 0.7 2.0
Kilocalories 242 248
Protein (mg) 4.43 5.54
Fat (mg) 0.39 1.96
Carbohydrates (mg) 53.2 51.7
Fiber (mg) 0.56 3.23

 

White and brown rice have 4-6 mg of protein per 100 grams, which is decent but one can’t say that they are rich in protein. Many vegetables and meat contain a thousand to a million times as much protein as white or brown rice. 

So, nobody has rice with the intention of getting good amounts of protein from it but it gels well with many dishes such as meat and vegetables. So you can have them as side dishes for any kind of rice dish. This way, you’ll get both taste and nutrition. 

Rice of any kind is rich in carbs. Carbs are metabolized in our bodies into glucose and then into glycogen. Glycogen is a compound that aids in healing the wear and tear in muscle fibers after heavy workouts. It comes in handy, especially for athletes and bodybuilders. In that sense, consuming rice can aid in heavy workouts and bodybuilding.

Can you eat rice if you have diabetes? What doctor says about it?

I’m sure you’re all eager to know this as the instances of diabetes mellitus is on the rise in the world. 

Diabetic people can consume rice but only occasionally. Rice is rich in carbs and has a moderate GI. So it will definitely make your blood sugar head northwards. So either consumes rice occasionally or do workouts after consuming rice if you are a diabetic patient. 

Brown rice has more fiber than white rice but this fiber is bulky, insoluble fiber that helps in healing Diarrhea rather than controlling diabetes. So consuming brown rice is not the cure if you are a diabetic patient. Taking the appropriate tablets/injections or working out after consuming rice is the only solution for diabetic patients. 

What are the side effects of Brown rice and white rice? Is it really going to create an effect in your life?

Brown rice has a lot more nutrients than white rice but it also contains the toxic metal Arsenic in trace amounts and the compound called Phytic acid. 

Arsenic if consumed regularly, can cause the following ill effects:

  • Various types of cancers.
  • Indigestion due to the rupture of the walls of the stomach and intestines.
  • Nervous weakness and numbness in nerves.
  • Liver disorders.
  • Diabetes of any type (usually type 2).

Phytic acid present in brown rice reacts with Zinc and Iron in our bodies to form compounds that cannot be absorbed by our cells. Hence, it will lead to mineral deficiencies in our bodies if consumed regularly. 

It is for this reason that it is also known as an anti-nutrient. Zinc and Iron deficiencies in our bodies cause a multitude of health problems as discussed earlier. 

White rice does not have any of the toxic or undesirable compounds that brown rice has. It is completely free of toxins (unless adulterated). It also has a decent amount of nutrients and is beneficial to cook in many ways. 

The drawback of white rice is that white rice is rich in carbs and calories. Unless one exercise after a heavy meal involving white rice, he or she is likely to put on fat and weight. Not exercising after eating rice regularly can lead to obesity and chronic disease in the long run. 

So my advice to you folks is this. Since brown rice is more nutritious than white rice, do not discard it completely. Eat it occasionally like once a week.

Moreover, the brown rice grown in India, Pakistan, Canada, and the southeastern states of the US is very low in Arsenic content. So they are safe to consume. If you like to consume brown rice regularly, have it from the above-mentioned countries. 

White rice also does not cause any harm to one’s health as it is free of toxins and undesirable compounds like Phytic Acid. As it’s rich in carbs and calories, one must figure out ways to control one’s fat and burn those excess calories lest one will incur obesity and chronic disease.

What are the health benefits of Brown rice and white rice? What do the experts say?

Apart from the health benefits mentioned before, white and brown rice also contain the following nutrients that help our bodies in various ways. They are:

  • Magnesium

Magnesium helps the enzyme reactions taking place in our bodies to proceed smoothly. It helps in making and repairing genetic material like DNA. It helps in synthesizing the proteins required for muscle contraction and expansion. 

  • Thiamin

Rice contains a B complex vitamin called Thiamin that helps in metabolizing carbs. 

  • Manganese

Manganese is an important component of antioxidant enzymes. It also aids in metabolizing proteins and carbs in our bodies.

 

Conclusion

The myth that brown rice is healthier than white rice is not always true. While brown rice definitely has more nutrients than white rice, it also contains toxic elements like Arsenic and undesirable compounds like Phytic Acid that cause mineral deficiencies in our bodies.

Hence, one must have brown rice only occasionally. If one wishes to have brown rice regularly, it must be from countries like India, Pakistan, Canada or the southeastern states of the US where brown rice has the least amounts of Arsenic and is safe to consume. 

White rice is totally free from toxins as it has the bran layer removed in the milling process where Arsenic is present. Since it is rich in carbs and calories like brown rice, one must figure out ways to remove the excess calories and fat from one’s body lest one will develop obesity and chronic disease.

 

FAQs

How many rice varieties are there in the world?

There are a whopping 40,000 varieties of rice in the world.

Which variety of rice is the best?

The long-grain Basmati variety of rice is the best in the world as it has almost no Arsenic and the least amount of starch. It does not clump together while cooking and takes the least time to cook. 

What is Dinorado rice?

Dinorado rice is a special variety of rice grown in the Arakan Valley of Burma. It is of excellent quality, is pink, and has a sweet aroma. It is 50% costlier than your regular rice. 

What is the specialty of Jasmine rice?

Jasmine rice is native to Thailand. It varies in color and is not always yellow. It comes as short, medium, and long-grain rice. It has a sweet aroma. When cooked, it becomes soft and fluffy like popcorn. For this reason, it is also known as ‘Popcorn rice’.

Have you ever had brown and white rice before? Do let us know your experience in the comments section below.