It’s time to settle an age-old nutrition debate: Is brown rice or white rice better for your health?
Nutrition pros say they’re used to the inquiry.
“As a nutrition professor, I often get asked in class what type of rice (brown or white) is healthiest for someone,” Martha Lawder,a professor in the Nutrition & Foods department at Sierra College in Rocklin, California, tells Fox News Digital.
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“The truth is, both can be valuable sources of nutrition and included in a healthy diet,” she added.
Whether you opt for brown rice, white rice or both, Lawder says your should incorporate grains into your diet.
“Grains, including rice, can be a nutritionally important part of our overall dietary intake,” says Lawder.
“The USDA encourages that at least 50% of our intake be whole grains and that a serving of rice is one cup,” she adds. “This could mean including both brown and white rice in different ways in your diet to meet your nutrition needs.”
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Alix Turoff, a registered dieitian and owner of Alix Turoff Nutrition and Fitness in Manhasset, New York, says there’s not much difference between the two types of rice.
Turoff breaks down the specs of a ¼ cup of each rice as follows:
6 grams of protein
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As Turoff sums up the nutrition specs, “while brown rice does contain more fiber than white rice (5 grams in brown vs. 0 grams in white), the calorie contents are fairly similar.”
Turoff also agrees that overall, the health content of white rice and brown rice are very similar.
“Fiber can be found in a variety of different foods so outside of a few grams of fiber, I wouldn’t split hairs between white vs. brown rice and would instead encourage people to eat whichever they prefer and try to get more fiber through fruits and vegetables,” she says.
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Personally, Turoff loves making a nutrient-dense version of “fried rice” (that isn’t actually fried) by mixing either white or brown rice with a package of frozen cauliflower rice plus frozen veggies, sautéed onion and garlic, an egg, edamame, a dash of sesame oil and coconut aminos.
If you’re still curious, here’s a deep dive into the nutrition qualities of brown rice vs. white rice.
What are the health benefits of white rice?
White rice may not be a whole grain, admits Lawder, but it can still provide a lot of nutrition when it has been enriched.
“The enrichment process helps to ensure that B vitamins and iron are comparable to that of brown rice,” she says, adding that It’s key to note that enriched rice should not be washed as this removes the enrichment.
This type of rice may also be a particularly good choice for the active set.
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“White rice can be a great option for athletes. Since it has less fiber, it can be digested quickly to help meet energy demands or help replenish glycogen within the muscles,” says Lawder.
What are the health benefits of brown rice?
As noted above, “brown rice is a great whole grain option to help meet your fiber needs,” says Lawder.
“It is also rich in many different vitamins and minerals that can benefit your overall metabolic health, such as B-vitamins and iron,” she adds.
Lawder calls out brown rice as an option to help stabilize blood sugars.
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“Since it has fiber, it can slow digestion and help reduce spikes in blood sugar,” she notes.
What about other types of whole grain rice?
But wait, there’s more – types of rice, that is.
“There are other whole grain rice options, like black or red rice. These two whole grain rices provide similar nutritional profiles to brown rice, but also contain natural color pigments called anthocyanins,” says Lawder.
“Anthocyanins are phytochemicals that act as powerful antioxidants and can be a beneficial part of an anti-inflammatory diet,” she explains.
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Lawder shares the nutrition specs for both as follows: One cup of black rice is considered two servings of grains and contains 170 calories, 36g of carbohydrate and 2g of fiber; One cup of red rice is considered two servings of grains and contains 200 calories, 48g of carbohydrate and 3g of fiber.
What’s the final verdict on rice?
Now that you’ve got the scoop on white rice vs. brown rice, you might be thinking: Which should I scoop onto my dinner plate (or breakfast, or lunch plate) today?
Lawder says it’s okay to consume white rice if that’s what you like.
“Just make sure you eat some other whole grains to help provide micronutrients to your metabolism,” she notes.
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In Turoff’s opinion, the takeaway is similar: “Go for whichever grain you prefer and meet your nutrition needs through a variety of different foods.”