When it comes to rice, looks are deceiving. Chefs and food stylists like the attractive, photogenic qualities of fluffy white rice. Brown rice, however, when compared to white rice, wins as the superior choice for a number of other reasons. Much research concludes that color is not the only factor that separates these two types of rice. Brown rice and white rice are different in some very important ways that can affect your health.
White Rice: Diabetic Risks
Diabetics are often warned about the link between eating white rice and bringing on a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. The message is that if you are a diabetic or are at risk, stay away from white rice. Medical experts advocate replacing white rice with brown rice if you have diabetes. A study team at the Harvard School of Public Health recently found that eating five servings per week of white rice increased the risk of diabetes. They also found that replacing white rice with brown rice lowered the risk.
Brown Rice: Fiber Advantages
Brown rice has more fiber than white rice, and the difference is due to the way both types are processed. White rice is brown rice that has gone through some changes in the milling process. With brown rice, only the husk is removed. White rice is polished and pre-cooked or parboiled. The bran is also removed. The bran is kept intact in brown rice, and that bran gives you a healthy dose of fiber.
Brown rice contains nutrients like magnesium, manganese and zinc. White rice has less amounts of these nutrients, but is fortified with iron and some B vitamins. Brown rice is the only form of the grain that contains vitamin E.
Global Call for Brown Rice
The difference between brown rice and white rice is taking on global importance, because aid agencies have become more aware of nutrition deficiencies in poorer nations where rice is often a diet staple. Research groups and aid agencies are saying that, in these countries, the consumption of brown, or as they call it, whole-grain rice instead of white rice should be encouraged. Even with all this evidence mounting in favor of brown rice, Americans apparently do not eat more of the brown variety. Most of the rice eaten by Americans is white rice that has gone through the refining process.
Casting Your Vote
No matter what more is said about the wholesome goodness of brown rice, you may still find times when white rice is your preference over brown rice. White rice is, after all, versatile in that it easily accommodates the flavors of other ingredients in a recipe, whereas brown rice has a distinctive nut-like flavor that may overpower rather than blend in with other ingredients. If you are otherwise healthy, feel free to eat modest portions of white rice occasionally. If you have days where you suffer bloating or indigestion, you may find that you can digest white rice more easily than brown rice, because of the latter's fiber-rich density.
Cooking times vary between brown and white rice, so convenience may be another advantage for white rice. Preparation of the white variety takes about 15 to 20 minutes to cook. Whole-grain brown rice takes a bit longer and requires more water in the pot.