Three billion people worldwide depend on rice for over half of their daily calorie intake. Most of them eat white rice.
Without rice, even the cleverest housewife cannot cook. Chinese Proverb
Could the hippies and macrobiotics, two of the biggest brown rice proponents be wrong? What are the differences between brown and white rice, and what are the benefits of each?
Brown rice is the whole rice grain with just the first outer layer (husk or hull) removed through milling. It retains its fibre and germ which contains vital nutrients.
White rice is brown rice that has been milled to remove the bran and much of the germ, reducing fibre and nutrient content. The grain is further polished to take away the remaining layer of germ (called the aleurone layer) which contains essential oils. These oils are what oxidize and go rancid, so removing them makes white rice keep longer.
Sticky rice: Short grain rice has a higher starch content which makes it sticker. Long grain is lighter and so is more separated.
Health Benefits of Brown Rice
Brown rice has:
Twice the manganese and phosphorus as white.
2 ½ times the iron.
3 times vitamin B3.
4 times the vitamin B1.
10 times the vitamin B6.
It is a great source of manganese which is essential for energy production, antioxidant activity, and sex hormone production.
Brown rice has high fibre and selenium content which reduces colon cancer. The fibre in brown rice reduces the time cancer-causing substances spend in the colon. Selenium has been shown to substantially reduce the risk of colon cancer. White rice has very little fibre.
Brown rice assist weight loss and reduces metabolic problems. Eating whole grains with lots of fibre, like brown rice, helps with maintaining optimal weight while refined grains have been linked to weight gain, type two diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
It lowers cholesterol. A study at Louisiana State University showed that rice bran and rice bran oil reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Brown Rice is Gluten Free. As more and more people enjoy the benefits of gluten free, rice rice is an obvious healthy choice.
It balances your energy. In macrobiotics, brown rice has been shown to have balanced energy in terms of yin and yang.
I was amazed how balanced I felt on this diet- and not just physically but mentally and emotionally as well. I also have never seen a skinnier group of people than when I visited a macrobiotic meeting! — Diana Herrington
Unique Phytonutrients: All whole grains have bound phytonutrients which are released by the action of intestinal bacteria. These unique substances have the same health-promoting activity attributed to the free form phytonutrients found in vegetables and fruits. One example is a lignin called enterolactone thought to protect against breast cancer and heart disease.
The main reason brown rice is processed is to increase its storage time. The essential oils in brown rice go rancid after 6-8 months while white rice lasts up to 10 years.
The protein in white rice is more available to the body. This is important in parts of the world where rice is the main source of calories, particularly since rice is not high in protein to begin with.
White rice is easier to digest because its lack of fibre. It may be superior for weak and convalescent persons or someone with weak digestion.
Parboiled Rice In India, where millions depend on rice, the process of parboiling rice was discovered. Uncle Ben’s later copied this process and termed it “converted rice.” This process involves steaming the rice before the final stages of processing. This drives some of the vitamins and minerals into the inner layers before the outer layers are removed. The result is ‘white rice,’ but with more nutrients.
Sprouted or Germinated Brown Rice Germinated brown rice is easier to digest and the sprouting process adds certain nutrients. Germinated brown rice has twice the GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) of regular brown rice, and ten times the GABA of white rice.
GABA promotes fat loss by stimulating the production of Human Growth Hormone (HGH). HGH increases the sleep cycle, giving deeper rest, boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure, inhibits development of cancer cells, and assists the treatment of anxiety disorders.
What Rice to Eat – Answered
If you are a reasonable healthy* individual living in North America** or any western country, then there is no question that brown rice and germinated brown rice are much healthier. They are both power foods!
JUST BE CAREFUL it isn’t rancid. Eating rancid fats negates any health benefit you might get from the other nutrients.
Buy small quantities from a source you trust and make sure it is fresh before cooking. Keep it refrigerated or use other preservation methods to keep it fresh longer.
** Most North Americans get more than enough protein and protein deficiency is practically unheard of here. Our health testing shows that while 22% of individuals need more available amino acids, this is usually the result of a digestion problem, not an issue of quantity.
* If you are weak and your digestion is very sensitive, then high-fibre diets may bother you.
Note: Personally, I don’t like the taste of parboiled rice.
A certified Nutritional Consultant, Randy has been teaching health and personal development principles for over 30 years and has personally helped indiividulas with with over 10,000 body health assessments.