Looking at the title, you may have already made your decision or believe that it is obvious that brown rice is the better choice for your health. In many ways you would be correct, since white rice is refined and has the bran and germ taken out of it. This reduces its nutrient and fiber content when compared to brown rice. However, are there certain cons to brown rice that make white rice a good option to have as well?
Sometimes people have certain health conditions that require them to have a suggested low fiber diet, and having too much brown rice wouldn’t be the best idea. That may then turn those people in the direction of having white rice instead if they enjoy having rice and don’t want to give it up. If you do have certain health conditions like diabetes, brown rice would be better at regulating your blood glucose levels due to its fiber levels. The key to everything with food is to have things in moderation.
If you eat brown rice and whole grains most days, then you don’t have to feel very guilty for having a cheat day on occasion and having white rice instead. In fact, switching up the foods we eat each week is shown to even help speed up or boost our metabolism, compared to when we eat the same things every day all the time.
Well, what exactly are the pros and cons with brown rice? Let’s take a look
Brown Rice Pros:
- Brown rice is a whole grain unlike white refined rice, so it has the entire germ, bran and endosperm of the grain still attached to it. This supplies brown rice with more essential nutrients that are generally stripped from white rice (unless you buy very enriched white rice).
- More fiber, means more fun! (for your digestive system that is, and your heart health). Per cup, brown rice has 3.5 grams of fiber, while white rice only has 0.6 grams of fiber. Brown rice also has a lower glycemic index than white rice, so it doesn’t spike up your insulin levels as quickly the way white carbohydrates do (and the fiber helps to also regulate the blood sugar levels).
- The higher percentages of vitamins and minerals in brown rice like niacin, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus are all beneficial for a variety of reasons. For example, the magnesium in brown rice can help relax the nerves, lower blood pressure, reduce risk of heart disease and even help with asthma. Brown rice can also increase the levels of nitric oxide which can improve blood vessel dilation and protect/inhibit damage from cholesterol in the body.
Brown Rice Cons:
- Since brown rice has the bran still attached, it has antinutrients like phytic acid. Phytic acid is a compound that can reduce the body’s ability from absorbing certain nutrients like iron and zinc as well. So, if you are eating foods with phytic acid often, just be careful to add in more vegetables or foods with the minerals that it reduces absorption of.
- Compared to white rice, brown rice can have higher levels of the heavy metal arsenic, but even if having a few servings per week of brown rice, it is still not enough to cause toxicity. However long term consumption could possibly increase risk of cancer or heart disease.
- There are a bit more calories in brown rice, and still can be high in carbohydrates if you have large portions of it (even one cup has 45 grams of carbohydrates which is 3 exchanges in the diabetes exchange system). That can be high for those with type 2 diabetes when they want to regulate blood sugar levels per meal and may only try to have a few exchanges per meal, so smaller amounts should be eaten such as 1/3 or 1/2 cup.
Overall, brown rice has more pros that outweigh the cons because of the higher nutrient content that comes from whole grains. It does have a more acquired taste and white rice can be more tasty when you are in the mood to eat it, so you can slowly incorporate brown rice and other whole grains to become conditioned. After a while, you may find yourself liking the nutty and chewy texture of the brown rice more than white rice (and can use it in your sushi).