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Which rice is healthier, Brown Rice vs White rice? – Nutrition Meet

Diabetes, Weight Loss

Which rice is healthier, Brown rice vs white rice? This is a very common question we often ask ourselves when we think of good health and switching brown rice over white rice or maybe white rice over brown rice. Billions of people grew up eating rice. In some cases, the average consumption of rice has health benefits, and some studies have found that high consumption of rice is associated with cancer (and ), chronic diseases such as ischemic stroke, and type 2 diabetes (1).

Should we eat rice every day? Let us explore the mineral component of rice and examine which rice is suitable for regular dietary intake for a healthy life. We will also learn what is the difference between brown rice and white rice. What are the pros and cons of white rice and brown rice?

What is White Rice? Brown Rice vs White rice

To understand what is white rice? We have to go through the process of making it. As many of us know, even a few years ago, I knew that white rice itself is a whole grain which is not; White rice is made of brown rice by removing its outer parts, such as bran, husk, and germs, in a milling process. in other words white rice can be called refined rice.

Following the rice milling process, white rice extends its shelf-life, serving as an import and export to anywhere in the world. Although white rice is gaining attention among the billions of people’s regular diets worldwide, it loses its nutrients, dietary fiber, and bioactive components during processing for white rice. The lack of nutrients can make us wonder for a moment whether white rice is safe for regular consumption or not.

So in search of finding the right answer about regular white rice consumption, NCBI takes me to this report where 18 studies were conducted to compare the effect of white rice consumption on a total of 1,777 059 individuals, out of which 14 348 had type 2 diabetes; 5612 had metabolic syndrome; 10 839 had coronary heart disease, and 11 698 had a stroke. The groups having diabetes, coronary heart disease, and stroke were unaffected by rice consumption, but in the case of metabolic syndrome, a substantial increase in risk was observed [2].

So having regular white rice consumption is not associated with Coronary heart disease or Type 2 diabetes. But

It may cause a hike in Metabolic syndrome.

What is Brown Rice? Benefits

For health matters, whole grains are always recommended instead of refined grains. Brown rice is whole grain rice after removing its outer skin. Brown rice is made by eliminating its skin without any effect on its nutrients like bran, germs, etc. Compared to white rice, brown rice contains higher amounts of dietary fiber, unsaturated fats, moderate amounts of protein, micronutrients, and many bioactive compounds.

Can we eat brown rice regularly? So knowing its role in chronic disease can define the answer. Brown rice can act as an anti-diabetic, anti-cholesterol, cardioprotective, and antioxidant. (3).

If you are a lover of rice and love to eat regularly, then I am sure knowing this benefit will make you feel better and free from any worries. Rice bran has excellent effects such as antibiotic, lipid-lowering, antihypertensive, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory. In some cases, it has been found that it improves bowel function (4). Rice germ research found benefits in postmenopausal women with improved body weight, body composition, and metabolic changes related to obesity (5).

Difference between white rice and brown rice

A lot of nutrients get removed during the milling process of white rice, which on the other hand, they are intact in less milled or brown rice [12].

Hence the first parameter to compare white and brown is nutritional value; although starch is highly concentrated in the inner endosperm of the kernel hence major component of both is carbs (mainly starch); as compared to white rice, brown rice has higher dietary fiber (concentrated In outer bran layer) [6].

Since protein presence was higher in the outer bran layer, the protein was approx. 7.1-8.3 g/100g in brown rice and 6.3-7.1 g/100g in white rice. Similarly, the concentration of all other nutrients, such as Thiamine, Riboflavin, Vit E, Nicotinic acid, Pantothenic acid, Ca, Na, Iron, Zinc, Phosphorus, and so on, were higher in brown rice as compared to white rice [6].

Nonetheless, the shift from white rice to brown rice reduces the eating quality, generally due to an increase in mean hardness by 33% and a 5% decrease in springiness. The fiber and higher levels of protein retained in the bran layer, which otherwise lacked in milled white rice, increase the gel consistency (harder) of cooked rice and lower the paste viscosity of rice flour [7].

The decreased eating quality of brown rice at times looks drawback, but it increased the duration of digestion by 41% and could lower the mean glucose production rate by 11%, thus lowering the spike in blood glucose compared to white rice. This phenomenon also explains why brown rice is inversely related to the risk of developing type 2 diabetes [7, 8, 11].

In fact, certain landraces grown as brown rice has a low glycaemic index; thus, they can be eaten by type 2 diabetes patients [12].

Similarly, in trials with 166 overweight adult participants with metabolic syndrome, it was noticed that substituting white rice with parboiled brown rice had potential benefits on HbA1c [9].

Another study suggested that white rice should be substituted in pre-diabetic and Type 2 diabetic patients with brown rice as it is associated with decreased body mass and increased HDL-cholesterol levels [10].

A bigger proportion of phenolic compounds (especially bound) associated with health benefits are present in the germ and bran layer and mostly get protected & available for humans in the case of brown rice than white rice [13].

The major difference between white and brown rice is that despite the numerous health benefits of brown rice, white rice is preferred and highly consumed due to its appearance, shorter cooking time, cost, and readily availability [14].

Pros and Cons

The rice contains various phenolic compounds like phenolic acids, flavonoids, tannins, coumarins, and stilbenes, which are associated with numerous health benefits, including anti-inflammatory, hypoglycaemics, anticarcinogenic, antiallergenic, and antiatherosclerosis properties [13].

The myth among people is that higher white rice consumption leads to coronary heart disease and stroke, but research shows no evidence for it.

Rice as a whole grain is a staple food with health benefits, but the milling process removes most of the nutrients hence a spike in blood glucose; less efficiency in providing phenolics and other nutrients to protect against chronic diseases like cancer is associated with white rice.


White rice consumption does not lead to an increased risk of coronary heart disease or stroke, but white rice does have fewer benefits than brown rice due to the loss of nutrients during the milling process. The basic difference between white and brown rice is the acceptability of white rice despite the availability of tons of nutrients in brown rice & the health benefits associated with it. However, the Type 2 diabetes patient can eat brown rice due to its low glycaemic levels.


Give three reasons why rice is important.

1. The primary source of energy for half of the world’s population
2. Certain races of rice have a decent amount of protein, vitamin B, iron, fiber, and manganese.
3. Rice has the potential to fight against malnutrition.

White rice vs. brown rice for weight loss, which one to choose?

With respect to weight loss in the debate of white rice v/s brown rice, clearly, brown rice is a winner since it has low glycaemic value, and through research, it is proven that it helps in weight loss.

White rice vs. brown rice digestion, which one takes longer to digest?

Brown rice has a higher amount of fiber than white rice; therefore, it takes 41% longer to get digested completely than white rice.

Written by

Sobin S. Gupta (MSc)

Sobin S. Gupta is a multifaceted professional—nutritionist, researcher, writer, and diabetes educator. She founded "Nutrition Meet," dedicated to educating the community on preventing and curing chronic diseases. With a passion for health and wellness, Sobin empowers individuals to take control of their well-being through informed dietary choices.

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