When it comes to the world of nutrition things are constantly changing. Food X is healthy, food X is unhealthy. Food X is the new super food, food X is actually useless. Its almost impossible to stay current with all the dietary trends because they are always evolving! A topic along the lines of this trend that has become more relevant to me recently due to my dietary change (The Vertical Diet) is whether brown rice or white rice is better. I figured since rice is included in many peoples diets and it would be a good discussion point. I’ll talk about the difference between the two and whether or not one is more appropriate for you. If you would like a bit more of a thorough explanation check out this article that inspired this topic.
Personally for years I thought white rice was the only rice that existed, I didn’t even know brown rice was a thing! Before I knew it everyone was eating brown rice because it was supposed to be significantly more nutrient dense and more beneficial to overall health. Now, it seems that it is a toss up, that the type of rice you should eat is more or less dependent on you as an individual. Things like your goals, activity level & type, and digestion health play a much more important factor in the decision to eat brown or white rice. Lets talk about some of the differences between the two and how you can decide whether or not you should eat one or the other!
Lets start off by recognizing that brown and white rice come from the same grain. The difference is that white rice has been stripped of the bran and germ giving it its white color. The bran and germ is what holds most of the nutrients in the grain. Because brown rice has still contains the bran and germ, it has more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber than white rice. While this would appear to make this a no brainer for the health conscious person, you need to also know that brown rice does contain phytic acid and arsenic. Phytic acid is an antinutrient that can prevent the body from absorbing iron and zinc. Arsenic is a toxic metal than can increase your risk for chronic diseases if consumed in a large quantity. When it comes to white rice people sometimes deem it an unhealthy option because of its lack of nutrient density (it doesn’t have much nutritional value) and it has a higher glycemic index than brown rice. This means that white rice is quickly digested by the body and raises blood sugar levels quickly, in turn raising insulin levels. If you have issues controlling your blood sugar levels or are diabetic then white rice may not be the best option for you, and you might opt for brown rice which is digested slower and can help regulate blood sugar levels. Because brown rice has a lower glycemic index if you consume rice at lunch and work an inactive job or just won’t be moving around much for a while you might be better on consuming brown rice. On the other hand if you plan on eating fairly close to a workout you might want to eat some white rice before to raise your blood sugar which can in turn give you a better workout.
Now, if you’re thinking that theres no clear cut option, then you’re right! This is where you need to experiment a bit and figure out what works best for your body. For me, I have eaten both and have found that my body doesn’t process brown rice nearly as well as white rice. I tend to feel much better in general when consuming white rice. Knowing that white rice has a very low nutritional value I am conscious of consuming fruits, vegetables, and even supplementing vitamins and minerals if necessary, to make sure my micronutrient profile is in healthy order. Again, it is about figuring out what works for you. While I might be better consuming white rice you may feel better consuming brown. What works for me is not guaranteed to work for you.
One thing I would suggest when trying to figure out what works for your body is to pay very close attention to how you feel after eating both types of rice. How your body reacts is generally a tell tale way to figure out whether or not you should be eating something. If you feel good after eating a certain food then keep eating it! If you don’t feel good after, then don’t eat it! When it comes to dieting general everyone is different. What one person runs well off of and likes to consume may not work for someone else. There are general principles that you can stick to in terms of dieting but figuring out what works best for you will take time and effort so be patient! As always if you have any questions about nutrition be sure to consult a coach! We will do our best to answer your questions and assist you to make the best decision for YOU.