Wellness Weekly: Should you opt for brown rice over white rice?

Wellness Weekly: Should you opt for brown rice over white rice?


Brown rice has great PR - but is it really all that it's cracked up to be?

The gloves are off again: it's brown rice vs white rice.

This battle has gone on for longer than I can remember.

And over the years, it seems that brown rice has held the upper hand.

It's been painted as a magic health food, and one that you should definitely get into your diet.

Except that in my view, the health benefits of brown rice are vastly overblown – and are in fact are marginal at best.

If your lifestyle is set up in a way where you get plenty of other whole grains in, plus lots of fibre and plant diversity, you don't really need brown rice in your diet (I personally haven't eaten it in 4-5 years).

Plus white rice tastes much better.

Let's get into the nitty gritty of it all.

Brown rice is a whole grain, meaning that all of the layers of the grain are intact – the bran, germ and endosperm.

This means that essentially it is unrefined, contains slightly more fibre, and marginally more nutrients (more magnesium, potassium and phosphorous) than white rice.

This is often used to paint brown rice as a top health food in comparison – but I just don't think it's enough.

Whilst white rice is 'refined', you still get benefits of increased resistant starch when you cook and cool it – and resistant starch is a powerful type of fibre that our gut bacteria thrive on.

The consumption of resistant starch can have a beneficial impact on our risk of chronic diseases, including cancer, diabetes and obesity, and the cooking and cooling of white rice actually lowers its glycemic index - which is great for blood sugar control.

So white rice might have a say after all.

Brown rice seems to be considered an amazingly healthy rice option - but is it really that great?

With all this being said, should you bin brown rice?

If you like eating it, no.

But if you're eating it because you have been convinced into thinking its magic, you may want to reconsider.

I actually received an Instagram DM this week from someone saying that they feel shamed into eating it over white rice, which demonstrates just how strong the health PR is for brown rice.

If you are eating plenty of whole grains elsewhere – the likes of oats, quinoa, buckwheat, bulgurwheat, fonio and so on – I don't think you need to eat brown rice, particularly if you don't actually want to.

As I mentioned before, if your lifestyle is set up in a way where you are getting plenty of fibre and whole plant diversity in there, the effect of brown rice on your health won't be profound in any way - and you won't miss it when it's gone.

However if you still truly think white rice is terrible, here's an analogy for you:

Think of your health as a mutual fund that you're investing into – essentially a portfolio of different stocks.

Overall, the fund is continuing to go up year-on-year, and you're making monetary gains.

But within the mutual fund, there is a single stock that is underperforming.

It doesn't really matter though, does it? If the overall fund is up by 8-9% and you're making money, it doesn't matter if there is a single fund that is underperforming!

So if you are convinced that white rice is a terrible food – and let's just pretend that it is for a second – look at it within the context of your entire lifestyle.

If you are putting in solid investments in all other areas (plenty of whole food diversity, sleeping well, training hard etc etc) – it really doesn't matter if you're eating a single food that may or may not be great for you.

In any case, white rice has its benefits:

  • Resistant starch for the gut bacteria (and lowering of glycemic index)
  • Fast-digesting carbohydrates (ideal for pre-workout)
  • Easy to digest
  • Tastes GREAT

For me, in the context of an overall healthy diet pattern, these far outweigh any other marginal benefits that brown rice has – not to mention the fact that it tastes incredibly average, and takes forever to cook.

All things considered, white rice is the winner for me – and if your overall diet is set up right, it may work for you too.

Tweet of the week

Be mindful of how your food makes you feel after (and not just during).

Junk foods will provide euphoria like no other while you're consuming them...but they won't do anything positive beyond that point.

It's all about the awareness of the food you consume, and the felt impact on your body – it should be a positive one, and lead you to feel nourished and energetic, not sluggish and slow.

Stay healthy my friend!