Brown Rice vs White Rice: Benefits and Cautions

Rice feeds the world! Over three billion people worldwide depend on rice for over half of  their daily total calorie intake.

But what are the differences and benefits of brown vs white rice?

Besides differences  in color, there are further distinctions between long grain, short grain, and the other 8000+ varieties of rice.

Brown rice is the whole rice grain with just the first outer layer (husk or hull) removed through milling. It  retains its fiber and germ which contains vital nutrients.

White rice is brown rice that has been milled to remove the bran and much of the germ, reducing fiber and nutrient content. The grain is further polished to take away the remaining layer of germ (called the aleurone layer) which contains essential oils. These oils are what oxidize and go rancid, so removing them makes white rice keep longer.

Health Benefits of Brown Rice

Brown rice has:

  • Twice the manganese and phosphorus as white
  • 2 ½ times the iron
  • 3 times vitamin B3
  • 4 times the vitamin B1
  • 10 times the vitamin B6

– It is a great source of manganese which is essential for energy production, antioxidant activity, and sex hormone production.

– High fiber and selenium content which reduces colon cancer. The fiber in brown rice reduces the time cancer-causing substances spend in the colon.  Selenium has been shown to substantially reduce the risk of colon cancer. White rice has very little fiber.

– Brown rice assist weight loss and reduces metabolic problems. Eating whole grains with lots of fiber, like brown rice, helps with maintaining optimal weight while refined grains have been linked to weight gain, type two diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.

– Lower cholesterol. A study at Louisiana State University showed that rice bran and rice bran oil reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol.

– Balanced energy. In macrobiotics, brown rice has balanced energy in terms of yin and yang.


One main reason brown rice is processed is to increase its storage time. The essential oils in brown rice go rancid after  6-8 months while white rice lasts up to 10 years. The protein in white rice is more available to the body. This is important in parts of the world where rice is the main source of calories, particularly since rice is not high in protein to begin with.

Other Alternatives:

Parboiled Rice – In India, where millions depend on rice, the process of parboiling rice was discovered. Uncle Ben’s later copied this process and termed it “converted rice.” This process  involves steaming the rice before the final stages of processing. This drives some of the vitamins and minerals into the inner layers  before the outer layers are removed. The result is ‘white rice,’ but with more nutrients.


Sprouted or Germinated Brown Rice – Germinating brown rice is easier to digest and the sprouting process greatly increases certain nutrients.
Germinated brown rice  has  twice the GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) of regular brown rice, and ten times the GABA of white rice. GABA promotes fat loss by stimulating the production of Human Growth Hormone (HGH). HGH increases the sleep cycle, giving deeper rest, boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure, inhibits development of cancer cells, and assists the treatment of anxiety disorders.


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