Is Brown Rice Healthy? Health Benefits, Weight Loss and Nutrition

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Lauren Zembron
Lauren Zembronhttps://www.healthyfoodforliving.com/
I am a 34 year old living outside of Boston with my wonderful husband, energetic daughter, sweet son, and playful dog. I have degrees in both psychology and guidance counseling, and have worked in a variety of school settings. I strive to find a balance between the two basic food philosophies of “eat to live” and “live to eat“. I believe that food should be (and is!) one of the great pleasures of leading a healthy lifestyle.
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Whether fried or rolled in sushi, rice is a carb you must have had many times in your life. The soft, shiny, and white grains of goodness is something we all recognize instantly. But many of us are not familiar with brown rice and its properties.

You may have seen people raving about it on social media, but is brown rice healthy? While carbs are still the lesser of the beneficial food groups for your health, the attributes of brown rice are somewhat unusual in this case. 

Fitness gurus like to include this in their diet, but let’s find out how beneficial this type of grain is for your health. 

The Rice Supremacy: Brown or White?

brown rice vs white rice

To find out the nutritional benefits of brown rice, let’s compare it with its lighter-shaded and more prominent counterpart.   

Movement by Fiber:

In general, rice is rich in nutrients that aid in developing your cells. Even though its primary building blocks are carbohydrates, rice has significantly high fiber.

The grain in brown rice is whole, meaning the bran, endosperm, and germ have not been removed. On the other hand, white rice is refined and does not have these components, and it keeps all the grain parts intact, resulting in a higher amount of fiber.

In a serving size of 100 grams of cooked rice, brown rice has 1.6 grams of dietary fiber, whereas the white equivalent has 0.4 grams. It may seem like a tiny amount, but the difference is enormous!

Fiber is a great contributor to smooth bowel movement. It absorbs water better and makes the stool bulky, making it easier to pass through as waste. This greatly helps relieve constipation and keep a clean-running digestive system overall. 

All the Good Nutrients:

Despite being a food item rich in carbohydrates, rice contains many nutrients that are useful for bodily functions. Brown rice and the white type both contain different nutrients in varying amounts.

Compared to white rice, brown rice has higher percentages of niacin, vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. All of these vitamins and minerals are incredibly beneficial for the body.

Niacin aids in lowering cholesterol levels in the blood and enhances the function of the brain. Phosphorus and magnesium are significant contributors to strong bones, teeth, muscle, and heart function. So, with brown rice, you are getting these essential nutrients in a tremendous amount all at once. 

The Heart is Happy:

Studies have shown that brown rice has a lower glycemic index than its white equivalent. Glycemic index or GI is measured from 0 to 100 of how fast a carbohydrate can increase blood sugar levels when it breaks down. Brown rice has a GI of around 50-55, whereas white rice has 70-89.

This shows that brown rice works its way into your bloodstream slower, making you stay fuller for a longer time. A lower glycemic index also means that it results in decreased cholesterol levels. In the end, your heart will thank you for choosing brown rice.  

Sometimes Loss is Good:

If you’re looking to lose weight with reduced effort, what you’re about to read is good news. Brown rice has qualities that allow it to reduce cholesterol significantly. There is a smaller chance of excess fat buildup under the skin and around the internal organs with low cholesterol levels.

Given the smaller glycemic index of brown rice, it keeps your stomach full and leaves you feeling less hungry throughout the day. This way, you won’t be reaching for snacks as often as you usually.

Many researchers have proven that consumption of brown rice is directly linked to loss of belly fat and a slimmer waistline. Contrarily, white rice doesn’t quash your hunger as quickly and can leave you feeling bloated. You can guess which the better option is in this case.

Is Brown Rice Healthy All the Time?

Is Brown Rice Healthy

It’s surprising how a grain so concentrated in carbs can still sound like food sent from heaven. Sounds too good to be true. Unfortunately, when not controlled, it is.  

A Cupful of Calories:

Even though most dieticians and nutritionists recommend brown rice, it contains many calories. One cup of cooked brown rice has 219 calories, whereas white rice has around 200. The difference is slight, but when you’re counting calories in your diet, it makes a huge deal. 

So, if you’ve already had your fill of brown rice for one meal, you better make sure that’s your last one for the rest of the day. It is still a carb, and too much of it is terrible for your health. 

Literal Grains of Poison:

Yes, you should be alarmed – because brown rice has arsenic, a toxic element! Due to its unrefined nature, brown rice has 80% more arsenic compared to white rice. If you eat this grain type regularly, it is no doubt potentially dangerous for your health. 

All types of rice have some traces of arsenic. But it has been found that brown rice holds the highest amount of it. So, you should be careful about how much of this you eat in a day.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How much is brown rice okay to eat in a day?

It is safe to eat around 3-6 ounces of brown rice daily. You can try and divide this measurement among different meals.

Will washing the brown rice get rid of the arsenic?

Only a tiny amount of arsenic will go away if you wash the brown rice well enough. But since the grain is intact, most of its initial elements will remain unless it is refined.

Does brown rice have any side effects?

Brown rice, in general, is good for your health. But some people find it hard to digest the whole grain, so you might sometimes feel gassy or bloated.

Is fried rice okay to eat if made with brown rice?

Fried rice has a lot of calories itself, regardless of the type of grain you use. There will only be a slight shortage of calories compared to fried white rice.

Final Words

You discovered many good things about brown rice and its rich nutrients and fiber content. But then you also found out rather scary news about it having plenty of calories and even toxic constituents. This now leaves you wondering, is brown rice healthy? 

All the good things you have found out are still there, and no one will ever say that brown rice is as bad as junk food. In the end, it depends on the quantity you choose to consume daily. A standard service size once a day is excellent, but more than that would be highly questionable. 

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