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It’s the battle of white rice versus brown rice and we’re telling you which one is healthier

Published on:2 September 2020, 11:15am IST
We Indians just can't get enough of rice. But for a balanced diet, we need to make the right choice between brown and white rice. Read on to find out which one is the healthier alternative.
Chetna Pattnaik
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We can’t get enough of our rice. But let’s see which one is a better option for us. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock
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Who doesn’t love a generous serving of vegetable fried rice, or a one pot meal of rajma chawal on a Sunday afternoon? Rice is an integral part of the Indian household, and it’s almost impossible to give up on our favourite grain, but we can always pick a healthier alternative – isn’t it? 

To begin with, both white and brown rice are rich sources of carbohydrates, and contain protein in small amounts. Here’s where the difference lies – brown rice is whole grain, while white rice has the bran and germ removed. How does that matter, you may ask?

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A whole grain has all parts of the grain that include the fibrous bran, the nutritious germ as well as the carb-rich endosperm, thus, clearly making brown rice nutritionally enriched. And in the case of white rice, the most nutritious parts of the grain – the bran and germ are eliminated,  lowering its nutritional value. 

And what about nutrition?
About 100 grams of cooked brown rice is packed with 1.8 grams of fibre, whereas the same quantity  of white rice accounts for only 0.4 grams of fibre. Besides, brown rice also provides you with more vitamins and minerals, as compared to white rice. 

Enriched with fibre and antioxidants, brown rice is not a source of empty calories and carbs, unlike white rice.

Brown rice vs white rice
White rice is a source of empty calories. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

However…
Brown rice contains higher amounts of antinutrient phytic acid, and arsenic, a toxic chemical. These antinutrients are plant compounds that may reduce your body’s potential to absorb certain nutrients. And in case these antinutrients are consumed regularly over a long period of time, it can lead to mineral deficiency. 

On the other hand, arsenic is a heavy metal that is naturally present in the environment, and can increase in some areas due to pollution. It is present in significant amounts in rice and rice-based products, and is heavily toxic. 

Prolonged and regular consumption of arsenic is said to increase your risk of chronic diseases including cancer, heart ailments and type 2 diabetes. Brown rice contains higher levels of arsenic as compared to white rice, which means you must consume it in moderation! 

Impact on blood sugar and risk of type 2 diabetes
Brown rice is rich in magnesium and fibre, both of which contribute in stabilising blood sugar levels. Whole grains like brown rice are said to lower blood sugar levels, thereby decreasing the risk of type 2 diabetes

However, consuming white rice in high quantities has been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, as attested by several research studies. This is because of its high glycemic index (GI) that measures how quickly a type of food increases blood sugar. 

The GI of brown rice is 50, while that of white rice is 89, which means the latter increases blood sugar levels much faster than the other!

Brown rice vs white rice
Brown rice keeps your heart health in check. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Brown rice can also lower cholesterol
Brown rice is also associated with an increase in HDL or ‘good cholesterol’, and lowering overall and LDL or ‘bad cholesterol’.  The lignans and plant compounds found in brown rice lowers the risk of heart disease, since it reduces the amount of fat in the blood and decreases inflammation in the arteries. 

Apart from that, consuming brown instead of white rice helps in weight loss, and lowering the body mass index (BMI). 

So, what’s the verdict? Brown rice takes the lead, when it comes to winning the battle of health and fitness. But remember, moderation is key!

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Chetna Pattnaik Chetna Pattnaik

Understanding fitness the hard way, Chetna has finally learnt to strike a balance between her protein shake and her beer and making room for her writing desk and her gym at the same time.