Which Rice is Healthier? There are an increasing number of different types of rice to choose from these days at the supermarkets long-grain, short-grain, white, brown, basmati, instant, wild, it can be a mind field to know which one to choose.

Brown rice still has the whole grain intact, this meaning that both the germ and the bran parts of the grain have been preserved. In contrast these are removed in white rice. When the germ and bran are removed rice is quicker to cook and flutter and lighter in taste.

As you would expect brown rice is higher in vitamins and minerals when compared to white rice. It also has more fiber. Fiber has many benefits, one of the benefits is that it slow down the speed at which carbohydrates are converted into blood sugar, fiber lowers the “glycemic load” of a food.  Fiber also helps sends your brain the signal that you're full. But if the fiber is taken out (as is the case with refined carbohydrates  such as white rice, this results in a fast-rise in blood sugar which triggers your pancreas to release a flood of insulin, the hormone that not only lowers blood sugar but also signals your body to store fat. A study from Penn State University compared how much belly fat people lost when they ate whole grains instead of refined grains, and the results were significant: The whole-grain eaters lost 2.4 times more fat!

Another study published looked at the importance of choosing whole grains such as brown rice rather than refined grain, i.e., white rice, to maintain a healthy body weight. In this study the Harvard Medical School / Brigham and Women's Hospital study, collected data on over 74,000 female nurses aged 38-63 years over a 12 year period, weight gain was inversely associated with the intake of high-fiber, whole-grain foods but positively related to the intake of refined-grain foods. Not only did women who consumed more whole grains consistently weigh less than those who ate less of these fiber-rich foods, but those consuming the most dietary fiber from whole grains were 49% less likely to gain weight compared to those eating foods made from refined grains.

There is however an exception to the rule and this is basmati rice, because this has the lowest glycaemic load, this is because of its higher amylose content.  Amylose is a type of carbohydrate that is more resistant to digestion, thus giving it a lower glycemic index. So over all brown rice is the more nutrient rich rice to go for however white basmali rice is better than long grain America rice.

Anderson JW, Hanna TJ, Peng X, Kryscio RJ. Whole grain foods and heart disease risk. J Am Coll Nutr 2000 Jun;19(3 Suppl):291S-9S. 2000. PMID:17670.

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