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Do you love eating rice? Does the aroma of the boiling rice makes you feel hungry and reminds of your childhood? If yes, then all these rice controversies- brown rice vs. white rice or brown rice vs red rice or white rice vs. quinoa must have made your life complicated. You no longer manage to enjoy rice guilt free or, you have probably replaced normal white rice with a so-called “healthy” version. Right? If yes, then this blog is for you.


Brown rice vs. white rice – what is the difference?

Do you know that rice is the staple food for more than half of the world’s population? So you are not alone. This battle- brown rice vs. white rice, has left many like you with utter confusion. Let’s bring some clarity as simpler way possible.

Any cereal grain -rice, wheat, corn etc. has 3 parts.

  • Bran (the outer most layer),

  • Endosperm (the inner part rich in starch and protein, surrounded by an aleurone layer)

  • Germ (a compartment, rich in protein, fat, and vitamin)

Now, each grain after harvesting needs to go through certain milling procedure to become edible and absorbable. Note that the degree of milling process makes all the difference in terms of nutrition, shelf life, size, and texture. The steps of milling are somewhat like –

Step 1. Removal of the hull- essential to make rice edible. The end product called brown rice

Step 2. Removal of the outer layer of bran and germ- The end product is unpolished rice which is likely to get spoiled easily, therefore, having a very low shelf life.

Step 3. Removal of aleurone layer – The end product is polished rice which is the regular white rice, have a better shelf life.

The white rice can further undergo a few more milling procedures to produce a brighter shine to the rice making it more palatable.


Brown rice vs. white rice – which is more nutritious?

Brown rice is the first outcome of the milling process. As a whole grain and least processed, it contains a higher amount of protein, fiber, vitamins, and certain minerals compared to white rice. Due to higher fiber content, the glycemic index of brown rice is lesser than white rice which helps to keep your blood sugar level in control.

The nutritional value of 1/3 rd of cooked rice is as follows-


Brown Rice

White Rice


82 calories

68 calories


1.83 g

1.42 g

Total fat

0.65 g

0.15 g


17.05 g

14.84 g

Dietary fiber

1.1 g

0.2 g

Total Sugars

0.16 g

0.03 g


2 mg

5 mg


0.37 mg

0.63 mg


3 mg

1 mg

Source- Healthline – https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/brown-rice-vs-white-rice

Brown rice vs. white rice – are there any side effects?

Yes, brown rice contains more nutrition than white rice. But the high nutrient score does not always mean best for health. Food becomes healthy when your body gets to access and assimilate all its nutrition. Brown rice contains phytic acid which remains under its husk. Phytic acid act as an anti-nutritional factor which prevents absorption of iron, calcium, and zinc in our body. Besides this, brown rice also contains a much higher amount of arsenic than white rice. So be careful. Brown rice has been popularised because of its high fiber content.  You have been told high fiber means higher weight loss. But that is not true always. We forget that when we eat white rice, we don’t just eat rice alone. We mix it with dal and/or vegetables and/or curd and/or salad which finally makes the combination more balanced in nutrition, high in fiber and improved in protein(amino acid) profile. On the other hand, being high in fiber, brown rice takes a lot of time to digest. Therefore those who suffer frequently from indigestion, acidity or flatulence, putting an extra load on the digestive system is not a good idea. 

Brown rice vs. white rice – which one to eat?

Rice is a staple cereal. So always choose the variety which is easily digestible and lighter on your stomach. There are many varieties of white rice depending on the grain size, processing technique etc. The beautiful shiny, long, white rice can wait for your next party. But for regular consumption always go for the parboiled (steamed before milling which keeps the nutrients intact even after milling, called sedhho chal in Bengali), local variety and a less polished version.  It may not look great, maybe slightly brownish but surely will give you better benefit. Start searching for it.

Not only brown rice vs. white rice – what about red rice/ black rice/ wild rice?

Colorful rice makes us curious. Anthocyanine and carotenoids are the pigments responsible for adding colors to rice. These rice contain a higher amount of fiber. The benefits and side effects of these rice are also similar to brown rice. So you can try these colorful rice once or twice, but adding them to your daily diet is certainly not a good idea.


Be it brown rice vs. white rice – how much rice should I eat a day to lose weight?

It is not about brown rice vs white rice or anything. Weight loss depends on you, not on rice. You can lose weight and stay healthy by eating rice. Even if you are diabetic, you can still enjoy rice and control your blood sugar. So stop blaming rice. Follow the tips below-

Choose the right variety – Always choose the local, parboiled variety. It may not look very nice, in fact, it may be cheap in price too. But that does not matter. Never believe always pricey varieties are great for your health. Actually, it is just the opposite in many cases.

Wash rice before cooking – Wash rice with almost 5 to 6 times of water for 2-3 times. It will help to drain out the dust, adulterants, and arsenic to a larger extent.

Cooking method – Do you believe that draining excess starchy water after cooking rice will make you thin? If yes, then stop doing it. Never drain the water of cooked rice as it discards all the vitamins and minerals as well. Rather cook in lesser water so that your rice absorbs all of it.

Control portion size- Rice is great when you are eating it in moderation. Make sure your plate should contain rice only 1/4th of the portion and fill the rest with pulses, salad, vegetables, curd and/ or fish/chicken/egg. This is the easiest way to ensure balanced nutrition.

Also read –

white sugar vs. brown sugar vs. jaggery

Pick the best cooking oil

Are you eating the right oats


Brown rice vs. white rice – Bottom line

The drill is simple. Rice is rice. Do not fall for brown rice vs. white rice battle. The higher nutrient score does not mean better health until the nutrients are actually getting absorbed in your body. Don’t go by the looks or price of the rice. Choose the local parboiled variety. Wash well and cook in the right amount of water. Control your portion size. Remember, it has to be the only 1/4th of the plate. Fill the rest with dal, salad, vegetables or fish/chicken/egg. Any one item should never dominate your plate. So don’t think of brown rice to lose weight. Go guilt-free and enjoy eating rice even at night. Keep trusting your white rice.

Dr. Soma Chakrabarty has done her Ph.D. in Food and Nutrition in 2017. She is based in Hyderabad. She has 12 yrs of working experience in nutrition. Dr. Soma guides people to modify eating behavior and achieve the goal of wellness. She believes in a sustainable diet that helps people to live rather than survive.

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  • Preetha , 25th February 2019 @ 4:04 pm


  • Dr. Soma Chakrabarty , 25th February 2019 @ 4:41 pm

    Thank you

  • Parag , 3rd August 2021 @ 12:25 am

    How about germinated brown rice?

    • Dr. Soma Chakrabarty , 3rd August 2021 @ 10:17 am

      Yes, that could be a good choice. Fiber will be in a much better state for digestion.

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