Busting the myth that white rice is less nutritious
By Carlos Bilan, Staff Writer
As an Asian person—Filipino, specifically—I see rice as a way of life. Personally, I love white rice, especially Basmati, Jasmine, and Japanese. However, since I eat so much of it, I should try to eat brown rice instead, right?
You have probably heard it from many that brown rice is healthier than white rice, but this may not actually be the case. Science proves that white rice is actually just as healthy as brown rice.
The main argument when it comes to comparing the two involves the glycemic index (GI) factor, which presents how rapidly food can cause a person’s blood sugar level to rise. Brown rice is said to have lower GI than white rice. However, this GI becomes insignificant since the “parameters used to determine each food’s glycemic index is based on a test of 50 grams of that given carbohydrate eaten by itself after an overnight fast,” wrote certified sports nutritionist Erik Ledin, in a blog post to Lean Bodies Consulting.
To illustrate—if you eat a bowl of white rice first thing in the morning without anything else, then yes, you’ll experience its full GI effect. However, most would consider rice to be a complement or side dish, as it’s consumed with different foods like protein and vegetables. Just look at the many Asian cuisines that have rice as a staple.
Another argument is that it is less nutritious. This is not actually true. When you compare an analysis between generic or popular brands of white rice and brown rice, the nutritional difference is quite small. While it’s true that brown rice has about a gram more protein and fibre than white rice, when looking at the big picture of one’s diet, this effect is so tiny it might as well be non-existent.
If there is anything that makes one superior over the other, it is that white rice is better than brown rice in digestibility. “White rice is digested more easily, in terms of a lack of bloating, gas, cramps, bowel problems like constipation, and other such discomforts, than brown rice,” wrote Barry Lumsden on RelentlessGains.com. Thus, if you have a sensitive digestive system, this definitely matters. A way to find out is by trying to incorporate brown rice into your meals for a few weeks within your regular diet. When the sack of brown rice is finished, start replacing brown rice with white rice and see if you feel better.
So, what is the verdict? You will not notice a significant difference between the two grain types. In fact, if you really want to either lose weight, build muscle, or be healthier, then practice a healthy diet by eating a balanced meal and exercising. It’s the meals you consume that matter, and not the type of rice.