In favour of Brown Rice

As the second largest produced cereal in the world, Rice is the staple food and an important source of nutrition for millions. The grain is so highly valued that in Asian countries like Thailand, the translation of the word ‘to eat’ literally means ‘to eat rice.’ There are bounteous varieties of rice that have been categorised on several parameters. One of the parameters being the degree of milling that it undergoes, giving us Brown rice and White rice.

A whole grain of the rice has several layers. Removing the outermost layer, the hull, gives brown rice, often referred to as whole rice or cargo rice. Since, this category of rice undergoes the least amount of processing its nutritional content stays intact. It has a mild nutty flavour, is chewier and more nutritious. This grain is milled further to remove the bran and most of the germ layer, giving a whiter grain. This grain has an aleuronic layer, filled with health-supportive essential fats. These fats, once exposed to air by the refining process, become highly susceptible to oxidation. To extend the shelf life of the grain this rice undergoes further polishing giving us a refined starch called white rice.

The complete treatment destroys almost 67 per cent of the vitamin B3, 80 per cent of the vitamin B1, 90 per cent of the vitamin B6, 60 per cent of the iron, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, and all of the dietary fibre and essential fatty acids.  

If one compares this grain with brown rice on the basis of nutrition and health benefits, brown rice would surely come out the winner. For the health conscious, brown rice would be the obvious choice as its many health benefits have been medically proved. It is estimated that one cup of brown rice can provide 88 per cent of the daily value of manganese. This trace mineral helps extracting energy from protein and carbohydrates and is involved in the synthesis of fatty acids, important for a healthy nervous system. Also, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that whole grains such as brown rice help in maintaining a healthy body weight and low cholesterol levels.

Brown rice is highly recommended for people susceptible to colon and breast cancer. It is a concentrated source of the fibre needed to minimise the amount of time cancer-causing substances spend in contact with colon cells. It is also a very good source of selenium, a trace mineral that has been shown to substantially reduce the risk of colon cancer. The whole grain also contains Lignan, a type of phytonutrient that protects against breast cancer and other hormone-dependent cancers as well as heart diseases. Brown rice particularly has benefitted in reducing the risk of breast cancers in pre-menopausal women.


Another substantial benefit is its rich content of magnesium, a mineral that acts as a cofactor for more than 300 enzymes, including enzymes involved in the body's use of glucose and insulin secretion. An eight year trial involving around 41,186 participants of the Black Women’s Health Study suggests that regular consumption of whole grains reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes. It was observed that risk of Type 2 diabetes was 31 per cent lower in women who frequently ate whole grains compared to those eating the least of these magnesium-rich foods. These foods further helped in reducing the severity of asthma, lowering high blood pressure, reducing the frequency of migraine headaches, and the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Though brown rice offers more health benefits and nutritional value, most people prefer white rice over brown rice. The long shelf life of white rice is the main factor for its boom in the market. Even though the equipment used to produce white rice is expensive, more companies are well-equipped to produce it. The economy of larger scale works in favour of white rice. White rice industries are making more money in selling the grain due to its much cheaper price compared to brown rice.

Despite its growing popularity brown rice has a total consumption that is less than white rice. Most importantly, on the part of the consumers, white rice is easy to cook. Cooking white rice involves washing the rice and then cooking it, there is no need to soak the rice before cooking. Brown rice on the other hand, should be washed and then soaked in water for around 25 to 30 minutes before being cooked. Soaking is required for brown rice before cooking because, of the bran layer on top of the seed. The soaking process before cooking brown rice is meant to soften the bran layer on the seed. So, even though our modern times consider brown rice to be healthier than to any of its grain counterpart, the convenience attached to white rice gives it an edge over brown rice.

Given all the advantages of brown rice, in the end, it is always the consumers who will dictate the demand in the market. People need to make a smart choice, only then can we shift to a much healthier choice: brown rice with its loaded nutritional benefits.


Brown Rice: Nutrient Analysis

Brown rice, cooked
1.00 cup
195.00 grams
216.45 calories





World's Healthiest
Foods Rating


1.76 mg





19.11 mcg





83.85 mg





0.06 g





World's Healthiest
Foods Rating








very good












Source: Food Processor for Windows, Version 7.60, by ESHA Research in Salem, Oregon, USA.

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