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White Rice Better than Brown

By Linda | February 29, 2012

Eat White Not Brown Rice

What?  White rice is better than brown rice?

Western thinking nutritionists assess food by nutrient levels, which gives brown rice a slight edge over white. Eastern thinkers look at the net effect on the body, which makes the winner white rice.

Brown rice can lead to digestive problems including gut heaviness after eating, an undesirable damp condition, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Despite claims, brown rice is not a pillar of nutrients to begin with. There’s only one gram of fiber more in a half-cup of brown rice than in the same amount of white.  There’s five times more fiber in an apple or serving of broccoli.

Neither rice provides vitamins B2 or B12.  A half-cup of brown rice contains 1.5 milligrams (mg) niacin versus .25 mg for white, which may sound like a big difference, but you can get more than 13 mg in a serving of salmon or a beef patty.  Brown rice has 7.8 micrograms (mcg) folate compared to 1.7 mcg for white, but you get a whopping 236 mcg in a cup of spinach, and 468 mcg in 3 ounces of chicken liver.

The dark side to brown rice is its anti-nutrients, like phytic acid, which binds with magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc so they can’t be absorbed.  Any extra magnesium in brown rice becomes irrelevant.

Grains, like rice, are the seeds of grasses and have evolved a survival mechanism in their outer bran: plant toxins.  Phytates, tannins, enzyme inhibitors, and lectins protect grains form grazing insects and animals by causing health and digestive problems for them, and you.

Cows and other grazers evolved rumens capable of disarming grain toxins.  We, on the other hand, have one stomach that is ill equipped to break down whole grains without side effects, including bloating and other digestive problems, deficiencies, weight gain and auto-immune problems.

Traditional cultures spend days soaking, sprouting, acidifying, grinding and fermenting grains in order to neutralize grain toxins and render them digestible. Not so in the U.S. Here are ideas for treating brown rice.

Making matters worse, last month Dartmouth researchers discovered brown rice may contain alarming amounts of arsenic. Much of the nation’s rice is grown in the southern US, once a cotton-growing region regularly doused with arsenic-based pesticides. High levels of arsenic increase risk of cancer heart disease, asthma and type 2 diabetes.  The extra gram of fiber in brown rice will not help you here.

White rice is far easier to digest and assimilate than other grains. Although not loaded with nutrients rice helps strengthen digestion and health.  Basmati and jasmine rice are aromatic, lighter and better choices for weight loss.  Avoid instant rice.

It’s very western to just judge a food by solely by fiber or vitamin content.  Poison oak is high fiber too, but you don’t see this recommended for health. Learn more about the energetic properties of food before calling it a health food.

Topics: Flavors & Foods, Uncategorized | 18 Comments »

18 Responses to “White Rice Better than Brown”

  1. Sharon Lehrman, MPH, RD Says:
    March 1st, 2012 at 10:15 am

    Linda…I’m in agreement on almost all of your articles/post, but I believe your article stating that white rice is better than brown rice is not quite accurate. You stated that Dartmouth researchers discovered brown rice may contain alarming amounts of arsenic. Actually the greatest concern in that study was certain foods made with brown rice syrup.In addition it’s not just brown rice that may be contaminated with arsenic. In fact in a study published in 2007 (, researchers found a “white rice sample from Louisiana ranked highest in total arsenic (0.66 μg/g), and an organic brown rice from California ranked lowest (0.10 μg/g).” As an article from the National Public Radio food blog suggests, the best thing we can do is eat a wide variety of foods so we’re not relying on any one type of food for the bulk of our nutrition.

  2. Linda Says:
    March 1st, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Thanks for your comment Sharon. You’re right, there was a highly contaminated white rice sample discovered too. California rice seems to be the best choice. I gather much of our brown rice comes from the south’s contaminated fields so ends up in brown rice, whether it is syrup or the rice itself. Brown rice syrup starts with brown rice. My biggest reason for pushing white over brown rice is that so many of my clients have told me they feel bloated and have a heavy feeling in their gut after eating it. This isn’t a good sign. We do know that there are plant toxins occurring in grains, which probably lead to this discomfort. Most of it is usually in the bran. Eating a variety of foods is always good advice, until something causes discomfort. I have some clients who use a lot of brown rice syrup, brown rice and brown rice bread and cracker products to replace wheat. It could be too much.

  3. lori Says:
    March 1st, 2012 at 11:10 am

    I used to eat a huge cup of brown rice at lunch when i worked and would end up with a hugely bloated stomach with gas pains at the end of the day! I don’t eat a lot of rice but when i need a little bulk to fill me up with veggies i always opt for white rice and feel just fine with it. this article validates everything i experience! Thank you!

  4. Sharon Lehrman, MPH, RD Says:
    March 1st, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Yes, I have many clients who have removed gluten-containing foods from their diet, either because of celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Many of the replacement products made with corn flour, potato flour, etc are pretty poor nutritionally speaking. To get better nutrition and fiber, I’ve suggested they choose foods made with flours from pulses such as bean, chickpea, lentil, and peas. The Pulses Canada organization has a wonderful free informational booklet with lots of gluten-free recipes, too. It can be downloaded at PS Linda I am an old friend of Ellen Z’s from junior high school!

  5. DAD Says:
    March 1st, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Interesting, I had a lunch yesterday that included Brown rice. I t was not a heavy lunch but, all afternoon I felt bloated. Thanks for the info

  6. Sally Says:
    March 1st, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Hi Linda,
    Great information. Isn’t the biggest reason we shouldn’t eat white rice is the high Glycemic level found in white rice, that’s not in brown?

  7. Linda Says:
    March 1st, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Great comments guys. Sounds like there’s a lot of you out there with sensitive digestion. Chewing rice and other carbs a LOT can help too.

    Glycemic index of brown is not much different from white rice, but brown has the slight edge. If you include fat and protein with your rice, they end up about the same.

    Great suggestion on the flours Sharon. How do you like almond flour? Say Hi to Ellen for me – sounds like you stay in touch.

  8. Lisa Gaspari-Salmon Says:
    March 1st, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Hi Linda, glad to hear white rice isn’t as bad for health conscious individuals as it’s portrayed to be! I try to eat like my husband who consumes a lot of whole grains, including brown rice, and end up with digestive issues. White rice has always been kinder to my system so this is good news for me. Always in moderation, of course! Thanks again, Linda…

  9. Karen@Cook4Seasons Says:
    March 1st, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    Great post, Linda. My mom was advised to switch over to white rice by her Ayurvedic practitioner due to digestion and she is ‘just fine.’ I read a book recently which claims all whole grains are just complex forms of sugar, and like you noted, the nutritional benefits of brown rice to white are minimal.
    What about pre-soaking? My clients have found that helps reduce the bloat.
    P.S. Good tip to buy from California – Northern, that is.

  10. Linda Says:
    March 2nd, 2012 at 8:10 am

    Interesting about your mom being advised to switch to white rice Karen. Whole grains seem to be challenging for many people to digest, as you can see by comments. Take a look at the link above in he post to soaking and fermenting grains. This is a good site on grains. I do enjoy amaranth and quinoa but I soak them with whey for 24 hours and don’t have them all that much.

  11. Ross Says:
    September 12th, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    When I’ve told people that I eat white rice instead of brown, whole milk instead of skimmed, eat eggs every day and sometimes skip breakfast they laugh at me then go back to eating their sugary cereals and chemical laden sodas. They suffer from frequent colds, aching limbs and are generally weak and overweight. Now I’m laughing. Westeners believe everything they see on TV while easterners believe in the knowledge that has been handed down to them. We live in a world where food is not food, it’s a product with huge profit margins. White rice is better than brown, the japanese eat it and have much lower rates of heart disease, cancer etc. That it is a fact, something you don’t see on the TV.

  12. cb Says:
    January 15th, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    Thank you for your post. I enjoyed it and it certainly explained why I feel great after white rice rather than brown.

    Also, I do think there is a lot to say about individuality. My wife can eat a high protein meal (ie salmon with some rice and veggies etc) and feel great after, whereas if she consumes mainly rice with veggies, she get’s bloated and feels heavy.

    I do think certain body types handle carbs better and others protein.

    Thanks a lot for your post.

  13. Linda Says:
    January 16th, 2013 at 7:59 am

    You’re right, individuality is underappreciated; we each have unique needs. Some feel best with a lot of animal protein, and others do best with a more plant-based diet. I appreciate hearing from you.

  14. Colleen Says:
    June 9th, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    I agree with you. I find white rice is better than brown rice. First it aids me sleep better. Secondly, it improve my mood. ESP when I depress at times.

  15. BROWN Says:
    February 10th, 2015 at 1:40 am


  16. Linda Says:
    February 10th, 2015 at 6:33 am

    No one is saying brown rice is bad. The strength of Indian farmers probably has more to do with their butter and whole milk intake, plus physical activity than what kind of rice the eat. Check out this Indian farmer who fathered a healthy child in his 90’s and mentions nothing about rice, only that he eats lots of butter, milk and almonds!

  17. Annie Says:
    April 24th, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    Just picking up on the comment about Indian farmers. Was this written by someone that has visited/lived in India? I lived with my parents who were medical aid workers in Pakistan for 6 years in the 1980’s, and my mother has lived in Bangladesh in the late 1990’s. In both places brown rice was pretty much almost impossible obtain. Even the poorest village people would eat polished (white) rice. Interestingly, in Bangladesh mum said they would soak and dry the rice, and then polish it. She said this meant that some of the nutrients were absorbed into the white rice. I would also question the statement about their health. Western diet diseases (diabetes, heart disease etc.) was just developing, but infectious diseases like ring worm, TB, cholera etc were rampant.

  18. Austin Bariatric Says:
    May 20th, 2015 at 8:44 am

    I have heard a lot about brown rice benefits. But I will still prefer white rice because this is where my stomach had been comfortable. I tried eating brown rice once, and I felt like I haven’t eaten at all. My stomach hurts and felt so empty. So I would still choose the white one. Just giving moderation with the consumption.
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