What is the Difference Between Brown and White Rice?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 28 September 2019
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When rice is harvested, it must be processed before being sent to market. In the case of both white and brown rice, the inedible outer hull of the rice is removed so that the grain of the rice is accessible. To make the rice white, the individual grains are further stripped: the bran and germ and also removed, and the grains are polished to be white and smooth. Brown rice, however, is left with these outer layers intact, and since the bulk of the nutrition is available in these layers, it is better for the consumer.

There are a number of reasons to strip rice down to the core grain. The first is that it cooks faster, and tends to create fluffier rice. In many parts of the world, this type of rice is preferred because some consumers feel that it tastes better. In addition, the nutrient rich outer layers of the rice also have a number of good fats, which can go rancid if the rice is poorly stored or not eaten soon enough. White rice is much more shelf stable than brown, and can be stored in more unfavorable conditions. Brown rice should be refrigerated, ideally, and also eaten within six months.


Unfortunately, many people in developing countries rely heavily on rice for nutrition. While these people ate brown rice traditionally, a growing trend towards white rice consumption has led to nutritional deficits in some parts of the world. In some areas, rice producers are trying to stave off this problem by nutritionally fortifying their rice with essential vitamins and minerals, which is a positive step. However, it is impossible to replace the valuable fiber stripped away with the bran and germ of the rice grain.

Fiber is an extremely important part of the human diet, and serves a number of dietary functions. Foods high in fiber help to maintain intestinal health, prevent cancer, fight obesity, and affect the probability of getting both heart disease and diabetes. For this reason, most dietary recommendations include a high consumption of whole grains, including brown rice. Many consumers, however, omit the “whole” from the “grains,” and eat a lot of heavily processed, stripped grain products like white bread and white rice, probably because these flavors appeal to their palates more. Sadly, these foods do not have the same dietary value that whole grains do, and heavy consumption of them can lead to dietary imbalances.


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Post 4

White rice is not good for diabetics.

Post 3

@ Submariner- I went to a Thai restaurant and had a desert called black rice pudding. It was a crunchy rice pudding served warm with coconut sorbet and sprigs of mint.

I am not sure if the black rice was a type of long grain brown rice, or if it was another type of grain like wild rice, but it was delicious. The flavor was nutty and complimented the coconut sorbet very well. The gluten in the rice and a sweet glaze held the rice pudding together. It looked like a black rice crispy treat on the plate, but it cut with a fork very easily.

Post 2

I often buy short grain brown rice in bulk. It is more glutinous than the longer grain varieties, but they are softer and fluffier.

I often make sushi, so this is an ideal substitute for short grain sushi rice. It also does not have as nutty a taste as other types of brown rice.

Short grain brown rice is also ideal for making rice pudding. The starchiness of the rice absorbs the flavors of the custard very well.

Post 1

A word to the diabetics reading this: brown rice can elevate your blood glucose, but the husk on the rice should keep it from spiking, so diabetics can often eat a small serving of brown rice, even if they don't normally eat rice. However, to make sure you can tolerate it, always check your blood glucose level two hours after you eat the rice. If you're in your target range, all is well.

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