Which is healthier? White rice or brown rice?

Rice is a versatile grain that’s a food staple for many people around the world.

There are many different kinds of rice — white, brown, Arborio, basmati, jasmine, black rice, sticky rice, and more — but white and brown are the ones most commonly eaten. So which is healthier: brown or white rice? Read on for the benefits of brown rice versus white rice.

Talk to your doctor to make sure you’re getting enough fiber in your diet, or contact Nutrition Services at UPMC for more information.

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White Rice or Brown Rice: Which Is Healthier?

The results are in: Brown rice is the healthier option.

Brown rice

Because brown rice contains all parts of the grain: bran (full of fiber), germ, and endosperm (which is rich in carbohydrates), it’s considered a whole grain.

Research shows that whole grain foods can reduce cholesterol and lower the risk of stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes, making brown rice a healthy option.

White rice

A milling process to remove the bran and germ from brown rice turns it white and strips it of the most nutritious parts.

That’s why white rice is classified as a “refined grain.” Most companies artificially fortify their white rice with additional nutrients to replace the natural nutrients removed in the milling process.

Health Benefits of Brown Rice

So which is healthier —brown or white rice — and which one should you pick?

Nutritionally, brown rice is recommended for a healthy diet because it contains extra nutrients.

Brown rice tends to be a bit more caloric, but it also contains extra protein and fiber that offer these health benefits:

Brown rice is also a good source of selenium, which plays an important role in thyroid hormone production, antioxidant production, and immune function, according to research published in the International Journal of Endocrinology, as well as magnesium, which helps with muscle contraction and bone development.

Enriched white rice does contain folate (folic acid), which is recommended for pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding. Folic acid helps your body make DNA and other genetic material, and supports cell division. White rice typically contains more calcium and iron from artificial fortification.

While all rice can be an important source of energy, brown rice contains more nutrients and provides greater health benefits. A half-cup is the average serving size of cooked rice.

Talk to your doctor to make sure you’re getting enough fiber in your diet, or contact Nutrition Services at UPMC for more information.

Article was updated on June 18, 2019.

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