UPDATED, June 8, 2022
You’re picking up lunch at a cafe and the server asks you a question: Brown or white rice? The question seems simple, but is it really when it comes to its nutritional benefit? White rice vs. brown rice: Let’s look more in depth at your preferred answer to help you pick the healthiest option.
Brown Rice vs. White Rice: The Nutritional Breakdown
While being low in fiber and fat, rice provides a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, selenium, iron, folic acid, thiamin, and niacin (1). These benefits make rice a staple to many human populations worldwide.
But ever notice how white rice is more widely consumed? This may be because of its shelf life, ease of preparation, or that people just think it tastes better. But brown rice is a whole grain that contains more vitamins and minerals (1). Are there more carbs in white rice than carbs in brown rice? Let’s consider how and why this is.
Rice Processing And Vitamins
Essentially, brown rice is what white rice looks like before going through the refining process.
During this milling process, white rice loses some phytonutrients.
In order to make white rice, the rice is milled and polished to remove the bran and germ components. This conversion from brown to white rice strips away key nutrients. To process brown rice, on the other hand, only the hull is removed, allowing the grain to retain its kernel and fiber content. Most of the rice’s nutrients remain intact (2).
With 4 grams of dietary fiber per 1-cup serving, clearly brown rice is the winner in the roughage category. Benefits of a high-fiber diet include more than normalizing the bowel (3). A high-fiber diet also helps reduce cholesterol levels, control blood sugar levels, and provide the nutrients to maintain healthy weight (3).
Why does eating white rice translate to a higher risk of developing diabetes?
A recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) examined how rice consumption and diabetes are linked. Researchers found that people who consume five or more servings of white rice a week had a 17 percent higher chance of developing diabetes versus those who ate less than one serving of white rice per month (4). In comparison, those who ate two or more servings of brown rice a week were found to have a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 11 percent (4).
By measuring how quickly food increases blood glucose levels, researchers note that white rice generates a stronger blood glucose response than brown rice.
Brown rice is superior to white rice when it comes to fiber content, minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals, and it often does not generate as large an increase in blood sugar levels after a meal (5, 6). The increased fiber level helps deter diabetes by slowing the rush of sugar (glucose) into the bloodstream (5).
Consuming brown rice rather than white helps maintain a more stable blood sugar level. This simple decision can help stave off type-2 diabetes.
Heart And Health
According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, whole grains (brown rice is a whole grain) is associated with lower risk of many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes (7).
In a study of more than 74,000 nurses published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that eating whole grains is an important part of maintaining a healthy weight. Women who consumed whole grains consistently weighed less than those who chose refined grains, such as white rice. Not only did they weigh less, but they were 49 percent less likely to gain significant weight than those who consumed refined grains (8).
At iFIT, we acknowledge the importance of good nutrition in overall health and wellness. We know exercise yields the best results when paired with a healthy diet. Because of this, we support iFIT users with guidance to foster a healthy meal plan and take advantage of the benefits available when healthy eating compliments their workouts.
Given the significant health benefits of brown rice, it is clear that switching to brown rice may be the wisest choice. To support your healthy eating without sacrificing the flavorful foods you love, iFIT has created delicious recipes that include brown rice.
iFIT Recipe: African Peanut Soup With Brown Rice
8 cups of vegetable broth
1 medium red onion, diced
2 tablespoons of fresh ginger, peeled, and minced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
8 cups of kale, ribs removed and chopped
¾ cup of unsalted peanut butter
1 (6-ounce) can of tomato paste
1 tablespoon of crushed red pepper, to taste*
1 sweet potato, cubed
¼ cup of peanuts, roughly chopped for garnish
4 cups of brown rice, cooked
Roasted chickpeas, optional topping
You can find cooking directions and nutritional facts here.
iFIT Recipe: Instant Pot Fried Rice
2 cups of brown rice
4 cups of low sodium chicken broth
¼ cup of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of sesame seed oil
½ teaspoon of ginger
3 teaspoons of garlic powder
½ teaspoon of pepper
2 stalks of celery, sliced
1 cup of frozen peas
5 green onions, sliced
1 cup of ham, diced
2 eggs, optional
You can find cooking directions and nutritional facts here.
iFIT Series: Mood Food: Nutrition for Your Mind
To take your nutrition journey farther and learn more about creating a customized nutrition plan for yourself, check out Board Certified in Internal Medicine––Dr. Eva Selhub––in her iFIT series, Mood Food: Nutrition for Your Mind.
Dr. Eva Selhub will take you on a 12-part food adventure and dive right into all aspects of food, nutrition, and health as they relate to your body and mind. You’ll learn how to eat mindfully to help your brain, your microbiome, your mood, and so much more as Dr. Eva Selhub takes you into the iFIT Kitchen.
She’ll also share some of the best tips for diversifying your diet and all the great benefits of different fermented foods, vitamins, and minerals. Plus, Dr. Eva Selhub will even be whipping up some of her favorite healthy dishes for you! At the end of every video, she’ll challenge you with short exercises that you can do daily or weekly to start implementing these healthy practices into your daily life.
If you’re new to iFIT, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial to access this series before signing up for a membership!
As research promotes brown rice as healthier to consume due to its essential nutrients, more studies are underway (1). In the meantime, we can see the real benefit of consuming these whole grains. Now is the time to take control of your health, and learn more about what your body and mind need to fuel itself with NordicTrack and iFIT. And as always, consult your physician before making adjustments to your diet.
iFIT memberships start at $15/mo. + tax, and auto-renew unless canceled in advance. Cancel at any time. Credit Card required for activation. Internet and WiFi required.
This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. NordicTrack assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article. Always follow the safety precautions included in the owner’s manual of your fitness equipment. Shipping times are dependent on in-stock inventory and delivery timeframes may vary. Make sure to check the website for any specific delays in delivery and shipping.