Brown rice vs white rice- which is healthier
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Do you love eating rice? Does the aroma of the boiling rice makes you feel hungry and remind you 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

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 in a simpler way possible.

Any cereal grain -rice, wheat, corn, etc. have 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 a certain milling procedure to become edible and absorbable. Note that the degree of the 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, has 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 the best

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 –

Brown rice vs white rice - which one is more suitable for you

Brown rice or 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 acts as an anti-nutritional factor that prevents the absorption of iron, calcium, and zinc in our bodies. 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 and 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. This rice contains a higher amount of fiber. The benefits and side effects of this 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.

Brown rice vs white rice -  pick parboiled rice variety always

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 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

What is the best rice for diabetes


Brown rice vs. white rice – Bottom line

The drill is simple. Rice is rice. Do not fall for the 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. Anyone 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.

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Dr. Soma Chakrabarty is based in Hyderabad. She has 15 yrs of working experience in nutrition. She guides people to modify eating behavior and achieve goals for wellness. She believes in a practical diet that helps people to live rather than survive.

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