Brown Rice: Is It Beneficial to Our Health?

Brown Rice: Is It Beneficial to Our Health?

Rice is a staple diet for a massive segment of the population across the world. It is an inevitable food for more than 100 food cultures. Currently, there are over 40,000 variants of rice grown. In Indian cuisine, a meal is incomplete without rice.  Furthermore, basmati, black rice, white rice, brown rice, and the list of rice types is enormous. They differ in terms of nutrients, cost, processing and health benefits.

Traditionally, the only available rice variety was husked. However, with the advent of technology, de-husked rice evolved and became famous along with white rice over time. As a result, brown rice got confined to rural localities. However, in the recent past, brown rice came back to the limelight due to awareness of its health benefits. Brown rice is full of tremendous nutrients. Here we shall elaborate on the nutrients and health of brown rice

What is Brown Rice?

Brown rice is a dehusked and unpolished rice variant with a nutty flavour. Therefore, it is a healthier version of regular rice. When rice is processed, the hull, bran, and germ are lost or removed. In the case of brown rice, only the outer layer known as the hull of the rice kernel is removed,  retaining the bran and germ. Furthermore, the bran and germ are nutrient laden with rich fibre. As a result, brown rice retains all the nutrients, making it healthy.

Types of Brown Rice

There are many varieties of brown rice​ available in the market. The quantity of pigmentation (anthocyanins) in the rice varies amongst the varieties. The bran colour determines the rice colour, aroma and flavour. Usually, cooked brown rice has a nutty flavour and a chewy texture when you cook it. Brown rice has a shelf life of six to nine months at room temperature.

Look at the several types of brown rice that are available.

Red Rice has an intense quantity of anthocyanins that imparts a red/maroon colour to its bran. Anthocyanin is an antioxidant and a colour giving pigment that gives red-purple colour to fruit and vegetables. Red rice has a muddy flavour. 

Black Rice has black coloured bran. The unique anthocyanin combined with the external bran imparts a deep purple colour when you cook it. The nutrient value of the variants of brown rice remains more or less the same.

The Nutritional Properties of Brown Rice

Brown rice, on the other hand, has a greater nutritious value. As a result, it is a nutritious superfood. It is low in calories, fat and is gluten-free. Antioxidants and other vital nutrients are also present in this. As a result, it is a popular option among people who are concerned about their health. Besides that, it provides a number of essential nutrients. 

100 g of  brown rice contains:

  • Calories- 88 Kcal
  • Carbs: 18.4 g
  • Fibre: 0.8 g
  • Fat: 0.7 g
  • Protein: 1.9 g

Health Benefits of Brown Rice 

Brown rice’s health benefits are mainly due to its preparation method. According to a Harvard study, brown rice is a whole grain with three parts. The outer and fibre-filled coat is called the bran, the nutrient-rich inner core, the germ, and the endosperm, the middle layer. 

Let’s take a look at the health advantages of brown rice.

1. Rich in Antioxidant

As per studies, brown rice possesses powerful antioxidants that protect your body from oxidative stress. It is a root cause for various health disorders, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, premature ageing, inflammation etc.

The antioxidants also prevent the free radicals from incurring cell damage which aids to keep the above conditions at bay.

2. Weight Loss Properties

The dietary fibres in brown rice keep you full for longer.Additionally, brown rice is high in polyphenols, which act as powerful antioxidants. As a result, dietary fibre prevents you from bingeing on unhealthy snacks and overeating. It may also help you lose weight by cutting calories and breaking down fat.

Research suggests that eating brown rice may help lose weight and keep obesity at bay. That is because it helps improve bowel movement and stool, leading to an excellent intestinal environment. As a result, it helps prevent obesity and keep you healthy. 

Brown rice offers around 4 g of fibre in a serving size of 158 g. Scientific research demonstrates that dietary fibre satiates you for a longer duration. Therefore, including fibre-rich foods may be a wiser decision for your healthy weight loss journey.

3. Brown Rice is Good for Diabetes

To control blood sugar naturally, you should include low carbohydrates and fats in your diet. Brown rice is an excellent option for a low carbohydrate diet. It aids in blood sugar regulation because of its low glycaemic index. A low glycaemic index means the food you eat digests slowly and does not spike your blood sugar.

Studies prove that three servings of brown rice a day can prevent type 2 diabetes. Also, phytic acid, fibre and essential polyphenols ensure the controlled release of sugar, benefiting people with diabetes.

4. Controls Cholesterol Levels

One of the highlighted benefits of brown rice is lowering cholesterol levels. Several studies show that dietary fibres play a crucial role in lowering cholesterol levels.

Brown rice is a rich source of fibres and thus, helps reduce cholesterol. Additionally, brown rice includes vital amino acids that help maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels. 

5. Protects Nervous Cells

Brown rice curtails the risk of neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.  The rich fibres reduce cholesterol levels, thus reducing the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.

Moreover, the antioxidants prevent free radical-induced cell injury. As a result, it prevents inflammatory and degenerative disorders. 

6. Naturally Gluten-free

Grains like wheat, barley, rye, etc., contain gluten, a protein. However, these days many people avoid eating foods that contain gluten. 

Some people are allergic or intolerant to gluten. It may manifest as mild to severe symptoms like abdominal pain, diarrhoea, nausea, and vomiting. Brown rice is gluten-free and is an ideal choice for gluten intolerant individuals. In addition, a gluten-free diet is beneficial for autoimmune disorders. You can also use brown rice in making healthy dishes and incorporate them into your gluten-free diet.

7. Improves Bone Health

As per research, a manganese deficiency may lead to demineralisation and impaired bone growth. Brown rice is a rich source of calcium, magnesium and manganese.

Consequently, it helps maintain overall bone health, heals bone injuries and regulates muscular functions. In addition, it plays a vital role in preventing arthritis and osteoporosis.

8. High Fibre Whole Food

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends whole foods to prevent: 

  • High-risk cholesterol: The natural oil in brown rice increases the HDL (good cholesterol) levels, and the fibre content binds to LDL to eliminate them.
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cardiac Diseases
  • Stroke
  • Obesity

Significant Nutritional Differences in Brown and White rice

  • Brown rice contains vital minerals like calcium, manganese and magnesium. These vital minerals are in trace quantities or absent in white rice. Moreover, brown rice is a comprehensive source of fibre and folate. Whereas white rice is devoid of many vital nutrients,
  • Brown rice weighs higher in calories and carbs, fibre, minerals, vitamins. As per the USDA, one cup of cooked brown rice nutritionally equals two grain servings.
  • White rice is refined because the healthy bran and germ are removed. Therefore, it lacks the essential nutrients. 

The following are a few distinctions between white and brown rice.

1. Dietary Fibre

Brown rice is richer in fibre than white rice. One cup of cooked brown rice contains 3.8 grams of fibre, which is 0.6 grams more than white rice. As a result, it aids in better digestion, weight management, reducing cholesterol levels, regulating blood glucose, and lowering your risk of developing diabetes. It is also better at preventing heart diseases and enhancing the growth of your gut bacteria.

2. Manganese

Manganese is crucial for energy synthesis and antioxidant function. However, it is insignificant or less in white rice (16% of the DV). On the contrary, brown rice is an excellent source of manganese with 42% DV. 

3. Selenium

Selenium is abundant in brown rice. One cup of brown rice has 15 micrograms of selenium. Whereas white rice contains only nine micrograms of selenium. Selenium is required for the following functions:

  • Thyroid hormone synthesis
  • Antioxidant metabolism
  • Immunity
  • Cell protection against cancer

4. Magnesium

An average serving of about 1/2 cup of cooked brown rice offers 11% of your daily recommended dietary magnesium. On the contrary, it is insignificant in white rice. Magnesium is essential for many vital functions:

  • Blood coagulation
  • Muscle movements
  • Cellular synthesis
  • Bone growth and development

How to include brown rice in your diet?

It is a versatile food grain. You can eat it at any time of the day and incorporate it into a wide range of recipes. It pairs well with multiple ingredients. Here are a few easy ways to include brown rice in your healthy diet.

  • You can have brown rice porridge for your breakfast.
  • Make a sumptuous meal with brown rice and vegetables.
  • You can top brown rice with eggs, avocados for breakfast.
  • Include brown rice into your soup.
  • Make black bean and brown rice burgers for a plant-based dinner or lunch.
  • Use brown rice flours to make desserts and puddings.
  • You can also use brown rice in your curry recipes.
  • Try a healthy and nutritious version of risotto with brown rice instead of white rice.
  • Replace refined pasta with brown rice pasta.

Healthy Brown Rice Recipes

1. Brown Rice Salad

Benefits of Brown Rice- HealthifyMe
  • Preparation Time: 5 minutes
  • Serves: 3
  • Calories: 469 calories

Ingredients

  • Olive oil-2 tbsp
  • Curry powder-1 tsp
  • Salt-to taste
  • Garam masala-1/2 tsp
  • Cooked brown rice-3 cups(250 ML)
  • Carrots- 1 cup shredded
  • Dried cranberries-3/4 cups
  • Sweet red pepper-1 cup chopped
  • Green onions-3 sliced
  • Fresh baby spinach- 2 cups chopped
  • Cashew-1/2 cup
  • Apple-1/2 cup chopped

Instructions

  • Take a large bowl and mix the initial four ingredients well.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients except apple and cashew, and toss well.
  • Refrigerate for half an hour.
  • Add cashew and apple just before serving. And serve immediately.

2. Brown Rice Soup

Benefits of Brown Rice- HealthifyMe
  • Serves 3
  • Calories: 150 calories (1 cup or 250 ml)
  • With one tablespoon sour cream: 229 calories

Ingredients

  • Oil-2 tablespoons
  • Celery chopped/green onion-2 tbsp
  • Onion-1/2 cup chopped
  • Carrot-1 cup finely chopped
  • Fresh mushrooms sliced-1/2 cup
  • Garlic minced-1 tsp
  • Curry powder-1/2 tsp
  • Crushed pepper-1/2 tsp
  • Chicken/vegetable stock -4 cups
  • Cooked brown rice-1/4 cup
  • Cooked boneless chicken/ cottage cheese – 2 cups
  • Fresh spinach-1 cup
  • Apple-1/2 cup chopped
  • Salt-to taste
  • Pepper-1/2 tsp
  • Dried thyme/oregano-1/2 tsp
  • Oregano-1 tsp
  • Reduced-fat sour cream: 5 tbsp

Instructions

  • Heat oil over low heat.
  • Add celery, onion, garlic carrot, and sauté for 5 minutes.
  • Then, add mushrooms, curry powder and crushed pepper.
  • Cook for 5 minutes and whisk in the stock
  • Bring to a boil while stirring
  • Add cooked brown rice.
  • Simmer, covered for another 5 minute
  • Add chicken/cottage cheese, chopped spinach, chopped apple, oregano and thyme just before serving.
  • Top with one tablespoon sour cream
  • Serve

Brown Rice: Precautions and Things to Remember

Brown rice is one of the most popular healthy rice varieties. However, it contains more arsenic than its counterparts. Therefore, the risk of arsenic-induced disorders may precipitate. Furthermore, even small amounts of arsenic may trigger the risk of cancer, heart disease, etc. Consequently, you should consume brown rice in moderation.

  • Excess of any healthy food may invite imbalances. However, recommended use of brown rice does not induce toxicity. Nevertheless, you should exercise a few precautions before switching to a brown rice diet.
  • Consult your physician before switching to any dietary changes to avoid any adverse effects.
  • Patients with renal disorders need to limit brown rice for its high potassium and phosphorus levels. High potassium and phosphorus cause abnormal cardiac rhythm. It may result in cardiac arrest.
  • Patients with inflammatory bowel disease should eat brown rice in moderation because high protein and fibre content may not be healthy.
  • Patients who underwent surgery involving the gastrointestinal tract should avoid eating brown rice because it contains bran which is hard to digest. 

Conclusion

Regular intake of brown rice is a healthier option. Its nutritional predominance and health benefits are advantageous across all age groups. The abundance of nutrients in brown rice ensures absolute health and functionality to your body. However, ensure that you eat them in moderation and follow a healthy diet.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Is brown rice healthier?

A. Yes, brown rice is healthier and nutritious than white rice. It is a natural source of dietary fibre, antioxidants and many minerals and vitamins essential for your overall health. It has a favourable effect on blood sugar levels, heart disease risk, and weight control.

Q. Can brown rice make you fat?

A. No, Brown rice does not make you fat. On the contrary, it helps you lose weight and gain healthy fat. Furthermore, several studies prove that people who consume whole grains like brown rice weigh less than others. That is because the dietary fibre in brown rice plays a crucial role in weight management.

Q. Is it OK to eat brown rice every day?

A. No, you should prefer having brown rice a few times a week, but not daily. It is because of the arsenic content in brown rice. Instead, you should alternatively consume low-arsenic grains. These include quinoa, barley, buckwheat, and millet.

Q. Why is brown rice bad for you?

A. There is no doubt that brown rice is healthy. However, the presence of arsenic content triggers certain health disorders. For example, even small amounts of arsenic can increase the risk of cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Therefore, you should consume brown rice in moderation.

Q. Is brown rice better than basmati rice?

A. Yes, brown rice is better than basmati rice due to higher dietary fibre,  minerals, and antioxidants, especially potassium, which keeps you satiated for a more extended period. Therefore it limits snacking and overeating. The dietary fibre also enhances digestion.

Q. Is brown rice good for a flat stomach?

A. Yes, regular intake of brown rice may eliminate belly fat. A study suggests that switching to brown rice can help eliminate the excess visceral fat that builds up in your abdomen. In addition, brown rice contains high fibre. As a result, it keeps you satiated and avoids snacking and bingeing on unhealthy snacks, which aids in weight loss. 

Q. Is brown rice hard to digest?

A. Brown rice takes a long time to digest due to the presence of the bran, and phytonutrients which are healthy and nutritious. However, proper cooking makes it easy to digest.

Q. Which rice is lowest in carbs?

A. Wild rice has the lowest carbohydrates of around 35 calories in 1 cup or 250 ml of cooked rice. The next option is a cup of long-grain cooked brown rice with 52 grams of carbs. The same amount of short-grain white rice has 53 grams of carbs.

Q. Can diabetics eat brown rice?

A. Yes, diabetics can eat brown rice in prescribed doses. The dietary fibre, antioxidants, vitamins, and essential minerals may regulate the blood glucose levels to manage diabetes.

Q. Which is better: quinoa or brown rice?

A. Quinoa has a better nutrient value than brown rice. It has three to four times more nutrients than brown rice. In addition, it also has higher calcium, potassium, and selenium levels than brown rice.

Q. Is brown rice good for kidney patients?

A. Brown rice is high in phosphorus and potassium, which you should restrict on the renal diet. When the kidneys are affected,  phosphorus may accumulate in the blood, resulting in calcium depletion from your bones, leading to weak and brittle bones.

Q. How many calories are in a bowl of brown rice?

A. There are 216 calories in a bowl of brown rice. It has 44 grams of carbs, 3.5 grams fibre, and 1.8 grams of fat.

Q. Is brown rice high in protein?

A. Brown rice has a reasonably high amount of protein. Two hundred grams or a bowl of brown rice contains 5.5 grams of protein.

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