Brown Rice vs White Rice: What Should I Be Eating?

White Polished Rice Or Brown Rice: What Should I Be Eating?

There is a constant, on-going debate between nutritionists, dietitians, doctors and anyone interested in nutrition, on the advantages and disadvantages of white rice vs brown rice.

Polished white rice is proven to have an adverse effect on the body’s metabolism as it has a high-glycemic index and raises the body’s blood sugar immediately upon consumption. This can actually lead to insulin resistance in the long run.


White Rice And The Risk Of Metabolic Syndrome

Clinical evidence and published research indicate the clear role of white rice consumption in metabolic disorders and type 2 diabetes. Researchers conducted a longitudinal study on 1476 Tehrani adults aged 19-70 to investigate the correlation between white rice consumption and metabolic syndrome.

The results indicated that the consumption of white rice correlated with higher levels of serum triglycerides after 3 years. Taking into account all other biochemical assessments, the researchers concluded that higher consumption of white rice significantly increased the risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes among Tehrani adults.1


This study can be extrapolated into the general population across the globe to understand the links between white polished rice consumption and the increased risk of metabolic disorders.

[expert_opinion expertname=’toddcaldecott’ opinion=”Refined white rice didn’t exist until the mid-1800s. Prior to this, people ate cooked unmilled or partially-milled rice, utilizing fermentation techniques such as soaking the rice overnight, or making special foods such as idli or dosa, to enhance digestion and absorption.”]


Refining Process Of White Rice

The main concern with white rice consumption is the fact that it goes through a refining process which removes much of the nutrients, especially fiber. Some of the nutritional facts of white rice per 100 g are:

  • Calories – 130
  • Total fat – 0.3 g
  • Total carbohydrates – 28 g
  • Protein – 2.7 g
  • Dietary fiber – 0.4 g

The significant nutrients in polished white rice are diminished as the fiber is cut down to just 1% per 100 g.2


Brown Rice

Coming to brown rice, the benefits are many as it has a low glycemic index and actually decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes. Researchers from Japan’s University of Tokushima Graduate School of Health Biosciences conducted tests on healthy and obese volunteers to analyze the effects of brown rice consumption on weight management, body fat and glucose metabolism.

Result Of Brown Rice Consumption

The researchers found that brown rice consumption not only resulted in greater weight loss, but also resulted in slower glucose metabolism which implies lower post-meal blood sugar levels as compared to white rice. They also found that eating brown rice for two months resulted in lower insulin resistance and better dilation of the brachial artery (heart health).


Cholesterol levels were significantly reduced after the two-month period of brown rice consumption. All these salubrious effects significantly point out to the advantages of brown rice over polished white rice.3

Brown Rice In Ayurveda

Brown rice has a significant mention in Ayurveda. It is good to consume a portion of brown rice at least once a day. This ensures the daily dietary requirement of fiber and roughage. In addition:

  • Soak the grains for an hour before cooking.
  • Go for organic brown rice which is easily available in most organic food stores.
  • Remember to wash thoroughly and soak the rice for at least an hour before cooking.

Cautionary Note

While brown rice definitely wins over polished white rice in its nutrients, it is not as easy-to-digest as white rice. Young children, aged people, the sick and convalescing may find it easier to consume white rice as it is softer and easily digestible.

If you are sick or having digestive trouble, opt for white rice and then switch back to brown rice until you get better.


[expert_opinion expertname=’toddcaldecott’ opinion=”White rice is easy to digest and is a good food for recuperation, but it is very high in carbohydrates and consuming too much too often is a factor in the development of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. If consumed regularly, only eat it in small amounts.”]

If you can’t have brown rice on a daily basis, make it a point to include a portion at least 4-5 times a week. Brown rice can be cooked like white rice in a pressure cooker or directly in a vessel. It may take slightly longer to cook than white rice.

Regularly consuming brown rice directly impacts your risk factors for metabolic disorders and type 2 diabetes.

If you are in the high-risk category consider switching to brown rice. If you can’t totally make a switch, do a combination of white and brown rice. Maybe you could have brown rice at lunch and a portion of white rice at dinner. However you choose, do include at least one portion of brown rice in your daily diet.