Which is better for health: Brown rice or white rice?


By Megan Ware RDN LD, Medical News Today

Nutritional breakdown

Brown rice and white rice
Brown rice may contain more protein, fiber, and carbohydrates than white rice, but it also contains more fat.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database, 1 cup of cooked, enriched, long-grain white rice provides:

  • 205 kilocalories (kcal)

  • 4.25 grams (g) of protein

  • 0.44 g of fat

  • 44.51 g of carbohydrates

  • 0.6 g of fiber

Alternatively, the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database lists that 1 cup of cooked, long-grain brown rice provides:

  • 248 kcal

  • 5.53 g of protein

  • 1.96 g of fat

  • 51.67 g of carbohydrates

  • 3.2 g of fiber

See below for a table comparing the daily values of vitamins and minerals in 1 cup of cooked, long-grain white or brown rice, according to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) food labeling guide.

Vitamin/mineral Percent daily value provided by white rice Percent daily value provided by brown rice
Iron 11 6
Thiamine 17 24
Niacin 12 26
Vitamin B6 7 12
Folate 38 5
Phosphorus 7 21
Magnesium 5 20
Zinc 5 10
Selenium 17 17
Copper 5 11
Manganese 37 98

Nutritional differences

White rice is brown rice that has had the bran and germ removed. As a result, white rice lacks some antioxidants, B vitamins, minerals, fats, fiber, and a small amount of protein.

Many varieties of white rice are enriched to replace the nutrients lost during processing. In the U.S., manufacturers add B vitamins, such as thiamin, niacin, and folic acid, as well as iron.

As shown in the table above, brown rice contains higher amounts of vitamins and minerals than white rice, except for iron, folate, and it contains the same amount of selenium.

Rice is gentle on the digestive system and generally well-tolerated. Both white and brown rice are naturally gluten-free.

Cooling rice after it is cooked results in higher levels of a fiber called resistant starch. This even applies if the cooked, cooled rice is later reheated. This form of fiber may help promote gut health.

Both white and brown rice develop more resistant starch when cooled after cooking, but brown rice contains more fiber overall.

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