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Why Is Brown Rice Healthy? Nutritional and Health Benefits of Brown Rice

Rajan is a botany and chemistry major. He has worked as a poultry breeder for 23 years, breeding layer and broiler parents.

Brown Rice


Rice And Brown Rice - The Difference

Rice is obtained from the plant Oryza sativa.

Rice is native to China and is a staple food in Asia and has been cultivated for about 9000 years by primitive man. It is the most widely consumed staple food in the world.

There are 8000 varieties of rice but all rice is categorized into 3 main types based on the grain length :

  • Long grain
  • Medium grain
  • Short grain

Short grain rice is the stickiest as it contains the highest starch content while long-grain rice remains separate and has the lowest starch content.

Another type of classification of rice is based on the degree of milling of the grain. Thus on this basis. there are 2 types of rice :

  • Brown rice
  • White rice

Brown rice is nothing but rice which has only the husk removed. Quite simply, It is unpolished rice. Since brown rice has the bran layer retained it takes longer to cook. Because the bran brown rice has a nutty flavour and is of firmer texture than white rice.

Since brown rice has only the husk removed, it is considered a whole grain as it has the bran and the germ intact. It retains all of its nutrients and is much healthier than white rice. The only drawback is that it has a shorter shelf life since it can go rancid quicker due to the fatty acids in the bran.

White rice is made from brown rice. However, converting brown rice to white rice reduces its nutritional content and value. It destroys 67% of niacin, 80% of thiamine(B1), 90% of pyridoxine(B6), 50% of manganese, 50% of phosphorus, 60% of iron, all dietary fibre and essential fatty acids.
However in the United States, by law, white rice needs to be enriched with Vitamins B1, B6 and iron. The forms of the nutrients that are enriched are different from the form the unprocessed rice has. Moreover, at least 11 of the nutrients so lost by processing are not added back at all, even after enrichment.

It is an irony that brown rice in spite of being healthier is counted as inferior and a poor man's food as it does not have the look of sophistication which people are looking for.

Parts Of A Rice Grain

Nutrients In Brown Rice

1 cup or 195 grams of brown rice provides the following major nutrients:

  • 216 Calories, which is about 12% of the daily requirement.
  • 88% of the daily value of Manganese.
  • 27% of the daily requirement of Selenium.
  • 20.9% of the Magnesium requirement.
  • 16% of Phosphorus needs.
  • 9.5% of the daily Copper requirement.
  • 8% of the Zinc daily value.
  • 14% of the daily dietary fibre requirement.
  • Over 12.5% of the Vitamin B1 daily needs.
  • 14.9% of the Niacin requirement.
  • 5.6% of the Pantothenic acid value.
  • 4.5% of the Iron required daily.

Nutritional Benefits Of Brown Rice

Some of the nutritional benefits of brown rice are :

  • Zero cholesterol.
  • Presence of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
  • Also present are a number of amino acids which include lysine, methionine and tryptophan.
  • Many powerful phytonutrients like phenolics etc.
  • Brown rice has a lower Glycemic Load than white rice.

Apart from these, there are many other nutrients that along with the ones listed here make brown rice a superfood to contend with both in nutrient content and health benefits.

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How to Cook Brown Rice Perfectly

Health Benefits Of Brown Rice

  • Reduces Risk Of Diabetes

According to a study, the risk of diabetes rises by 11% for each serving of white rice eaten per day.

Also, brown rice reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Brown rice is rich in magnesium and magnesium is a co-factor in enzymes that regulate our body's use of glucose as well as for insulin secretion.

It has been found that regularly eating whole grains like brown rice reduces risk of type 2 diabetes by helping to better regulate blood sugar levels.

  • Controls Weight

Brown rice is low energy, high-density food. It fills one up but is low in calories. Its starch is a Resistant starch which is a type of carbohydrate that boosts metabolism and burns fat.

Scientists at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center for Human Nutrition in Denver along with a team of international researchers found that the right carbs (read Resistant starch) will make one slimmer and stay slim since these carbs,

Improve fat loss especially from the belly by shrinking the fat cells, raise the muscle mass, controls hunger by keeping the tummy full longer, control blood sugar and also lower the triglyceride and cholesterol levels.

Brown rice is rich in dietary fibre as well and in a study, it has been found that intake of whole-grain foods like brown rice prevented weight gain and those who ate more of these foods weighed less than those who ate less of such fibre rich foods.

  • Protects And Reduces Risk Of Cancers

A study has found that fibre from whole grains like brown rice protects and reduces the risk of breast cancer in premenopausal women. This is directly proportional to the amount of fibre consumed so it makes sense to eat more brown rice.

The plant lignans protect against breast cancer and other hormone-related cancers and also heart disease. Eating brown rice raises the blood levels of this health-protecting lignan, the enterolactone, according to studies.

  • Reduces Risk Of Colon Cancer

Brown rice has many powerful phytonutrients which are powerful antioxidants as well. For example, the phenolics include quercetin, ellagic acid, curcumin, catechins etc. These are mostly found in bound form in brown rice, unlike their free form which is found in most commonly eaten fruits and vegetables.

These phenolics are released by the intestinal bacteria only during digestion and because the normal testing procedures measure only the free phenolics, the antioxidant activity of brown rice was greatly underestimated initially as 99% of these phenolics are in bound form and not in the free form.

These phenolics have been found to lower the risk of breast and colon cancer.

  • Prevents Gallstones

A study shows the consumption of foods high in insoluble fibre like brown rice prevents the formation of gallstones. The higher the consumption the lower the risk.

The insoluble fibre in brown rice not only speeds up the movement of food in the intestine but also reduces the amounts of bile acids secreted. It is known that excess of bile acids are responsible for gallstone formation.

  • Makes Bones Healthy

Brown rice is rich in magnesium and this mineral helps in making the bones strong. The importance of this mineral can be judged by the fact that 2/3 of the magnesium in our body is concentrated in our bones. and a major portion is stored over the surface of the bone for quick retrieval in times of need.

Brown rice is very useful as 1 cup provides 21% of the daily magnesium needs.

  • Reduces Cholesterol, Prevents Atherosclerosis, Protects The Heart

Diets high in rice protein like in brown rice help to keep the levels of nitric oxide in blood high. Nitric oxide improves blood vessel dilation and also prevents the oxidation of cholesterol by free radicals thus preventing deposition of plaques in the arteries. This has been found in a study.

Brown rice also lowers cholesterol levels because of the oil content as well as the unsaponifiable compounds that brown rice has in the bran. Rice bran oil has been found to lower LDL cholesterol as well as provide heart-protective benefits. All these benefits can be derived by eating brown rice. It also lowers blood pressure.

Brown rice has heart-protective effects.

  • Benefits Of Excellent Manganese Levels

Brown rice is extremely rich in manganese. 1 cup provides 88% of the daily requirement. This provides wonderful antioxidant protection against free radical damage and helps to keep the nervous system healthy, helps in the synthesis of fatty acids and also in energy production.

  • Benefits Of High Selenium Levels

1 cup of brown rice provides about 28% of the daily value of this mineral which reduces the risk of colon cancer. Selenium also reduces the risk of heart disease and reduces inflammation thus reducing asthmatic symptoms and pain and inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Reduces Childhood Asthma

In studies, it was found that whole grains like brown rice and fish reduced wheezing and asthmatic symptoms.
However, wheat consumption should be avoided as it a common allergen for asthma, even though it is a whole grain.

Parboiled Rice

Parboiled Rice

Parboiled rice is rice that has been partially boiled in the husk Parboiling drives nutrients, especially thiamine, from the bran to endosperm hence parboiled white rice is 80% nutritionally similar to brown rice. This rice takes less time to cook and is firmer and less sticky.


The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.

Easy Homemade Spanish Rice Made With Brown Rice

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly


Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on December 10, 2014:

Brown rice takes a while longer to cook so soaking it will cut down the cooking time a bit. Soak it for about an hour to hour and half before cooking, Harsha.

Harsha Vardhana R from Bangalore on November 27, 2014:

Very recently I started cooking myself (I had been forbidden due to seizure issues and single living). I got a pack of organic brown rice and cooked in a rice-cooker.

It was good and I mixed with a paste of tamarind rice-dish (Puliyogere in Kannada). It was nice!

Do we need to soak the brown rice in water for a while before cooking?

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on November 27, 2014:

Why would you want to eat raw rice in the first instance?

saraswathi on November 27, 2014:

what happens if eaten without cooking. that is raw rice taken in

very often. is it bad for health. please let me know.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 22, 2013:

It takes about an hour or a bit more to cook them because they have bran intact. But they are so healthy that it's worth the extra time.

sweetie1 from India on April 22, 2013:

I brought brown rice of Dawat brand recently and I think i made mistake in making them as even after cooking for 40 minutes they were still not cooked.. BTW very useful info in this hub..

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 18, 2013:

GTF, it does take sometime getting used to this type of rice but when one gets hooked on it, it's forever. Thanks for stopping by.

Claudia Mitchell on April 17, 2013:

I just have to figure out how to get my daughter to eat this kind of rice. There is something about the flavor and texture that she does not like. It really is so much healthier than white rice. Useful hub!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 13, 2013:

@Peggy, good to know you are using more of the healthier brown rice. It takes longer to cook it but it is worthwhile to spend more time on making a healthier food. Thanks for the read.

@livingsta, yes this rice is the red colored variety. Thanks for stopping by.

@Kathryn, I agree it takes a while longer for the brown rice to cook but it's well worth the effort health wise. Thanks for visiting.

Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on April 13, 2013:

I have both brown and white rice, and like the flavor of both. The only downside to the brown rice is the time it takes to cook, but I need to start cooking supper earlier so that I can enjoy the extra nutrition boost of the brown variety. It seems like a waste to eat white rice.

Thank you for sharing this information with us.

livingsta from United Kingdom on April 13, 2013: