Brown or white rice? What is healthier?

Rice, boiled or fried, is popular in homes and restaurants around the world. However, brown rice is not as common as white.

Nutritionists say brown rice is not processed like the white one, making it a better option as its far healthier than the white one.


Private Kamanzi, a nutritionist at Amazon Cabinet Clinic in Remera, says although brown rice is available in some nutritional clinics and a few shops, he says many people are unaware of its benefits.


Because of this, he says, manufacturers are rare as most are afraid of losses because most people opt for white rice.


Kamanzi says brown rice is a whole grain, this means it contains all parts of the grain — including the fibrous bran, the nutritious germ, and the carb-rich endosperm.

He goes on to add that white rice, on the other hand, has had the bran (the brown part that covers the rice) and germ removed, which are the most nutritious parts of the grain.

During processing, there is another part of rice called endosperm, which he says normally plays part in germinating.

“The endosperm stores a lot of nutrients, proteins, minerals, and photo chemicals, which are all vital as far as good health is concerned,” he says.

He explains that bran in brown rice is very essential for one’s health as it contains fibres which help to reduce the glycaemic index in the rice, which is the quantity of glucose that brown rice can give in the blood when it is consumed.

For this reason, he says, brown rice is highly recommended for everyone, and can be much better for people with diabetes and those who want to lose or manage their weight.

For diabetic people, Erick Musengimana, a nutritionist at Rwanda Diabetes Association, Kigali, says brown rice does not raise the blood sugar, compared to white rice.

In the endosperm, Kamanzi says, there is the concentration of mineral salts such as magnesium, potassium that help in preventing the body from many disorders including stroke, heart diseases among others.

What’s the difference?

Aside from this, Musengimana says endosperm also contains photochemical that helps prevent cancer, especially colon cancer, therefore, people who consume brown rice are at less risk of getting colon cancer than those who consume the white one.

He says brown rice has more fibre and antioxidants, as well as vitamins and minerals.

“White rice is mostly a source of empty calories and carbs with very few essential nutrients,” he says.

For instance, he says 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of cooked brown rice provide 1.8 grams of fibre, whereas 100 grams of white provide only 0.4 grams of fibre.

Additionally, he says, the bran of brown rice contains many powerful antioxidants.

Studies show that due to their antioxidant levels, whole grains like brown rice can help prevent chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.

Also, studies have shown that brown rice can help increase blood antioxidant levels in obese women.

White rice, Musengimana says, loses all the nutrients apart from starch because it has been processed.

Kamanzi notes because the bran is removed in white rice, when eaten, it can be easily absorbed in the blood, therefore, easier for one to get diabetes when consumed in excess.

He says that there are increasing cases of people suffering from non-communicable diseases, including diabetes, and one of the reasons is the high intake of white ice, which is consumed in large quantities by many people around.

How to prepare brown rice

Kamanzi says because of the bran found on the brown rice, it’s not easily cooked like the white one.

For this reason, he says, it’s advisable to first soak it in water for at least six hours, for it to get soft.

Without soaking, the nutritionist says the rice won’t cook well.

He adds that one can substitute white rice with the brown one and eat with beans, or any other stew.

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