Why is brown rice considered so much better than white rice?
The food labels for each one aren’t all that different. Brown rice just has a little more fiber.
So, what’s the big deal?
— Jessica Bracanti
(City withheld), CT
As helpful as food labels can be in guiding our food choices, they barely tell the true tale of a food’s whole nutritional profile.
You are right — strictly from a food label standpoint, brown rice doesn’t seem to have many advantages over white rice. It’s what you don’t see on the food label that makes all the difference!
Brown rice contains significantly higher levels of phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, selenium, and vitamin E.
If there were no enrichment laws (those which require that nutrients lost in processing be added back to refined grains like white rice), brown rice would also contain higher levels of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, iron, and vitamin B6 than its white counterpart.
Remember, though, that vitamins and minerals are only part of a food’s nutritional profile.
Since brown rice is a whole grain, it offers you its bran and germ components — and all their health-promoting phytonutrients and antioxidants..
Some preliminary research indicates that specific components in rice bran oil lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Add to that to brown rice’s soluble fibers (which are also implicated in decreasing LDL cholesterol) and you have a heart-healthy one-two punch.
These are the same fibers, by the way, that help achieve a longer feeling of fullness more quickly.