Brown Rice and Nutrition
Updated: May 13
We are always looking to find easy ways to eat healthily, switching from white to brown rice is one step in the right direction. Why? More fibre (versus white rice) is the obvious answer but there is more to the issue than fibre alone.
When brown rice is milled the exterior bran and germ are removed leaving a polished white rice, essentially carbohydrate and a small amount of protein. It is however in the (fibrous) bran and germ where many of the nutritionally beneficial parts of the rice reside, namely: minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients – health promoting plant compounds. The very colour of rice, brown to red to purple indicates the level of certain types of phytonutrients such as anthocyanins; these may prevent inflammation and protect against cancer heart disease and type 2 diabetes. That is why so many dietary recommendations advise us to ‘eat a rainbow’ of colours – so that we benefit from a host of plant base chemical compounds to keep us healthy.
Are all brands equal when it comes to fibre content? We went to three local (Singapore) supermarkets to find out. For comparison we have also included some popular brands of white rice. Note that a single serving of dry (pre-cooked) rice is normally between 75g to 100g.
Here are the results, based on the Nutrition Information label on the packaging. Brown (red and purple) rice in bold:
9.9g per 100g The Loving Rice, Thai Organic Mixed Brown Rice
8.0g per 100g Golden Eagle, Fresh Thai Riceberry Rice
7.5g per 100g Temasek Rice, Organic Fragrant Brown Rice
5.0g per 100g The Loving Rice, Thai Organic Three Colour Brown Rice
4.9g per 100g The Loving Rice, Thai Organic Red Brown Rice
4.4g per 100g Golden Phoenix, Healthplus Red Cargo Rice
4.3g per 100g Song He, Noble Brown Rice
4.1g per 100g The Loving Rice, Thai Organic Hom Mali Brown Rice
3.4g per 100g Fresh Rice, Organic Thai Jasmine Brown Rice
3.3g per 100g Origins Healthfood, Just Organic Brown Rice
3.2g per 100g Naturel, Love Your Mixed Brown & Red Rice100% Organic Hom Mali
2.5g per 100g Daawat, Quick Cooking Brown Basmati Rice
2.5g per 100g The Loving Rice, Thai Organic Crystal Hom Mali Brown Rice
2.5g per 100g Naturel, Love Your Brown Rice 100% Hom Mali
2.4g per 100g Supreme Gold, 1121 Basmati Rice
1.6g per 100g Daawat Super Basmati Rice
1.3g per 100g Fresh Rice, Organic Thai Red Fragrant Brown Rice
1.0g per 100g Royal Umbrella, Thai Hom Mali Rice
0.9g per 100g New Moon, Thai Hom Mali Premium Fragrant Rice
0.8g per 100g Temasek Gold Basmati Rice
0.4g per 100g Golden Eagle, Thai Fragrant Rice
0.2g per 100g New Moon, Thai Hom Mali Premium Fragrant Organic Rice
0.0g per 100g Song He, Whole Kernel AAA Nobel Pine Crane Thai Hom Mali Rice
What a broad spread of results!
Always read the Nutrition Information panel. Everything else on the packaging is marketing.
(according to the USDA) for adults up to age 50 is 25g for women and 38g for men. A medium sized apple, banana or orange provides approx. 3 to 4g of fibre; a single portion of rice could easily be double. This may not seem significant but it is. Similarly changing from white to wholemeal pasta makes a positive difference. Not only does fibre keep you 'regular' it also feeds the vitally important gut microbiome, the healthy bacteria that live in our digestive tract and support our physical and mental health. Plus consider the other health benefits from the micro and phytonutrients and you can understand why switching from white to brown rice makes sense.
The brands of rice here are representative of those available in my local supermarkets. What is available locally to you? What are the differences in fibre content, and, colour?
We never enjoyed brown rice until we made a concerted effort to try it. I found that it took me a week or so to get used to its nutty texture and flavour. Now I love it and even experiment with different types to explore their flavours. When I eat out I also ask if there is a brown rice option. Sometimes it is. And, we still enjoy white rice too.
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