Top 10 Health Benefits of Brown Rice

White and brown rice

Brown rice is better for you than white — most of us know that! It’s The majority of consumers typically choose white rice over brown rice because of the difference of appearance. While it’s true white rice looks so much more delicious than brown rice, it doesn’t mean it’s the healthier alternative. According to a study conducted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, brown rice is the top choice in terms of both nutritional and other inherent healthy benefits. Let’s compare brown rice vs. white rice.

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Why Brown Rice? Before white rice went through the refining process, it at one time looked exactly like brown rice. Brown rice, unlike white rice, still has the side hull and bran. The side hulls and brans provide “natural wholeness” to the grain and are rich in proteins, thiamine, calcium, magnesium, fiber, and potassium. For those trying to lose weight or those suffering from diabetes, brown rice can prove a healthful staple given its low glycemic rating which helps reduce insulin spikes.

Unfortunately, all white rice packaging has a label that reads “enriched.” Since white rice has been stripped of iron, vitamins, zinc, magnesium and other nutrients during the refining process, manufacturers must add unnatural fortifications in the form of synthetic vitamins and iron so it can be marketed to the public as a “nutritious food.” Although white rice is fortified, it still doesn’t reach the minimum nutritional requirements for one serving of food as specified by the FDA. The healthy benefits of brown rice are listed below.


1. Rich in Selenium Brown rice is rich in selenium which reduces the risk for developing common illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and arthritis.

2. High in Manganese One cup of brown rice provides 80% of our daily manganese requirements. Manganese helps the body synthesize fats. Manganese also benefits our nervous and reproductive systems.

3. Rich in Naturally-Occurring Oils Naturally occurring oils are beneficial for the body as these healthful fats help normalize cholesterol levels.

4. Promotes Weight Loss The fiber content of brown rice keeps bowel function at it’s peak since it makes digestion that much easier. Brown rice is the perfect addition to the daily diet for those seeking bowel regularity. In addition, brown rice also makes the tummy feel full which translates to smaller meal portions.

5. Considered Whole Grain Brown rice is considered a whole grain since it hasn’t lost its “wholeness” through the refinement process. Wholes grains are proven to reduce the buildup of arterial plaque and reduce the risk of heart disease and high cholesterol.

Brown rice in a bowl6. Rich in Anti-Oxidants This is one of the best kept secrets regarding brown rice. We usually associate anti-oxidant rich foods with blueberries, strawberries and other fruits and vegetables. The antioxidant capacity of brown rice is right up there with these super stars.

7. High in Fiber Brown rice is high in fiber and on top of the list for foods that can help prevent colon cancer. This can be attributed to the high levels of fiber naturally contained in brown rice. These fibers attach to substances that cause cancer as well as to toxins in the body, thus eliminating them and keeping them from attaching to the colon wall.

8. A Slow-Release Sugar Brown rice helps stabilize blood sugar levels; therefore, it’s an excellent food choice for those suffering from diabetes. Studies show that those who consume one half cup of brown rice daily reduce their risks of developing diabetes by 60%. On the other hand, those who consume white rice regularly increase their chances of developing diabetes one hundred-fold.

9. Perfect Baby Food Brown rice cereal or brown rice itself is the perfect baby’s first food due to the dense natural nutrition and fiber it contains. This is a much better choice than refined white rice cereal products as rapidly growing babies and toddlers require nutrient rich diets to help maintain rapid growth cycles.

10. Candida Yeast Infections Brown rice is the perfect adjunct for candida yeast infection treatmentsgiven that high glycemic and otherwise sugary/starchy foods are prohibited during most candida treatment protocols. The natural digestibility of brown rice coupled with the high fiber content can help sensitive digestive systems heal from an overgrowth of candida organisms. Finally, brown rice is simply delicious and a fantastic staple for both vegetarian and vegan diets. Brown rice can be used as a white rice alternative in most vegetarian recipes and provides a full, rich and somewhat nutty flavor. Brown rice flour can be used for vegetarian pancakes, breads and other baked goods. All in all, brown rice is clearly the healthy choice.

Dr. Linda Kennedy MS SLP ND is an avid animal activist and nature lover.

Brown rice is one component of a healthy plant-based diet filled with veggies, fruits, beans, grains, nuts and seeds. If you enjoy exploring how to add more whole foods to your diet,  Plant Power: Transform Your Kitchen, Plate, and Life with More than 150 Fresh and Flavorful Vegan Recipes*  delivers a beautiful must-have guide with more than 150 delicious and versatile plant-based recipes for every day of the year. Eating vegan doesn’t have to be about sacrifice and substitutions. With Plant Power, Nava Atlas celebrates the bounty of natural foods and teaches everyone—from committed vegans to those who just want more plants in their diet—how to implement a plant-based approach to their lives—easily, practically, and joyfully, every day. Available on Sept. 2, 2014, wherever books are sold.


196 comments on “Top 10 Health Benefits of Brown Rice

  1. Sam Pedlow

    Is it really safe to eat Quinoa, lentils, chickpeas and other beans on a Candida diet? I’ve been advised in the past to avoid these foods.

  2. Nava

    Sam, Ricki Heller, a candida expert (her web site is Diet, Dessert, & Dogs – has this to say about your question: There are multitudes of anti-candida diets. Depending on an individual’s sensitivities, how severe the candida is and who their ND or nutritionist is, they could be allowed fruits (most don’t at the beginning, though), beans, legumes, gluten-free grains, tempeh, even apple cider vinegar. The diet I (more or less) followed is this one:

  3. Jo

    Is brown rice flour considered inflammatory. I see it recommended on anti-inflammatory diets, yet also see that it is considered to be strongly inflammatory on other sites?

  4. Nava

    Jo, I wish I could help you with this question, but I don’t have enough expertise to answer. It’s a good observation, though, that the web is filled with contradictory information. Best to find a good RD dietician that you can trust.

  5. Philip

    Actually, I think the more common reason that people buy brown rice over white is because it’s half the cost! More people would probably buy brown rice if it were the same price as white. I don’t know about anywhere else, but here in Ontario, brown is nearly twice the price of white.

  6. Nava

    Philip, I’m sure you’re right (I think you meant the reverse in the first sentence — that it’s twice the cost). But it’s real food, whereas white rice is just starch. Here in upstate NY organic brown rice is about $3 a pound, and a pound of uncooked rice goes a long way!

  7. HealthRegards

    Brown rice is good for health than white and red rice. one cup of brown rice contain 215 calories and less fat , rich in fiber, use full for diabetic patients. so eat brown rice more

  8. jean

    i prefer to toast my brown rice in a dry frying pan and when it starts to pop, i put the water in. that makes gorgeous fluffy delicious brown rice in 1/2 the time – but does toasting the grain first wreck it’s nutritional value?

  9. Nava

    Jean, you’re right that toasting does improve flavor of rice, and other grains — as long as you don’t do it on super high heat to the point where it burns, I doubt you’d be compromising the nutritional value.

  10. Delores

    In addition to being so nutritious, organic brown rice is probably the best tool we have to bring about social justice. If EBT food stamps were administered as vouchers for specific foods only — the bulk of which being brown rice, lentils and beans — everyone who needs good food for themselves and their families but can’t afford it would get it. And there would be much less fraud in trading food stamps for cash. Also, it may be possible to put a dent in the rampant consumption of meat, which impoverishes the whole world, by officially encouraging more consumption of brown rice, lentils and beans. Why First Lady Michelle Obama doesn’t focus heavily on promoting brown rice, lentils and beans through the EBT food stamp program is highly problematic. That shortchanges the US and the whole world.

  11. amerritt

    try cooking 1 cup brown rice 2 and a half cup of water in one tsp of salt in a tbs of vinger really good make the rice fluffy but still has a nice bite

  12. AshLynn MFJ

    Hmmmm…. Mommy turned to brown rice nowadays..
    Guessed she made the wiser choice!!

  13. Anuj Arora

    Hi actually i am very fond of eating rice i always used to eat white rice..but now i am diabetic patient so i left eaten some one told me that i can go for brown rice is it good for me plz do suggest me?

  14. eakta

    My mom is a diabetes patient … can she eat brown rice? She cant resist rice at any cost …
    or it is not good for diabetes patients?

  15. scott

    Consumer reports and the FDA have done fairly extensive testing of arsenic in rice and find that Brown Rice (especially from the south, where arsenic-based pesticides were widely used to grow cotton) contains much higher levels of arsenic than white rice (stripping the bran and hull to make rice white removes most of the arsenic). California brown rice contains less arsenic so consumers may wish to copnsider that in their purchasing choices

  16. Liberal

    I went in search of Brown Rice in the market and ended up buying the Brown Basmati Rice. I have searched a lot for the Normal Brown rice. People says Only Brown Basmati rice is available in the market. Now am confused is it the same rice I bought or I bought the wrong one. I need to know because am maintaining a proper diet for weight loss and I have found in studies that brown rices helps in weight loss. Please help me. Your comment will be highly appreciated.

  17. Nava

    Hello – not sure why regular brown rice is so elusive for you, but Brown Basmati is great, too. It has very similar nutrients, and cooks up to a very tender grain. Another bonus is that is has a delicious aroma as it cooks. So no worries; use it and enjoy!

  18. Kaashefah Davids

    I had a kidney transplant in 2011. And now after sooooo many years of hearing “you need to gain weight” my nephrologist says I need to loose 2 kilos LOL. Started eating brown rice now and loving it!

  19. Muna

    Thank you for the info. I have never eat brown rice before. And now I start searching what are the benefits are from eating brown rice. And I started eating a few days ago. I started seeing a difference in my heart . I have been struggling with heart palpitation recently. So I will stick with brown rice. Thank you thank you. .

  20. Lakshmi

    Thank u for this information. I am also start to eat brown rice. Because of my inflammatory conditions.

  21. Sahantha

    Since the time I fell in love with the GM diet program, I have been eating only brown rice for lunch. It keeps me healthy and fat free. I know that brown rice is good for health but didn’t know that it has so many benefits. Thanks for the info.

  22. Dennis L. Ziegelmeier

    I have Type 2 diabetes because of Agent Orange which was sprayed in Vietnam. I began detoxing about seven years ago and recently I have become about 80% vegan. (I’m working on it) I am careful to sort out GMO from non-GMO foods and that is almost becoming impossible. GMOs are “produced” in Agent Orange type treated soil and their DNA is changed as is the organism that feeds on it. Insects die from ingesting it and since insects eat nearly everything we eat, common sense would dictate it would be unhealthy for us to eat.

    In relation to the discussion here of Brown Rice versus White Rice, once both become a GMO, wouldn’t it be nice to warn those that may overlook the bad by being only told the possible good.

    They sprayed Agent Orange in Korea also. I feel I know why.

    Excellent article. We all need to push for truth in food content and that includes the presence of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) or their derivatives or by-products. e.g. soy lecithin, high fructose corn syrup to name a very few

  23. Marian

    I don’t understand why brown rice is more expensive than white rice when it’s the white rice that go into all these processes which im sure takes more money to produce. Would’ve been better if brown rice is inexpensive and readily available just like white rice.

  24. Nava

    That’s a great point, Marian. It probably has to do with economies of scale. The variety of rice grown for refining is probably produced at a mass scale (and likely with more pesticides). Brown and other specialty varieties, especially organic, are produced on a smaller scale and still have to absorb similar costs for harvesting, transporting, etc. Still, brown rice bought in bulk at natural foods stores is quite a bargain in terms of what you get nutritionally.

  25. olumide

    Is there brown rice cereal? What’s the beneficial effect of eating brown rice with tofu?

  26. Nava

    There are several kinds of brown rice cereal — puffed, crispy, and flakes. You can even over-cook short grain brown rice and use it as a hot cooked cereal. I’m not sure there is any special benefit to eating brown rice with tofu other than that they go very well together!

  27. Chef D

    Brown Basmatti rice pudding….you will never be the same again!
    I cannot tell you how great brown rice is and though I do occasionally use white rice still (I’m from New Orleans and Gumbo must have white rice, IMO- Jambalaya I actually like better with Brown Basmatti) brown rice is just awesome!

  28. ylc

    I think brown rice is more healthier as it is unpolished and also has a large amount oh health helpers. We are lucky to get brown rice freely because my grandpa owns a large field used to grow brown rice.

  29. olumide

    I am on a weight loss diet, I eat only brown rice, fruits, cornmeal daily with exercises, I hope eating brown rice daily is not getting too much

  30. sandra gross

    I like to eat brown rice each day and I noticed
    a difference in my skin since eating it, and also you can add many different flavours to it
    such as fresh mushrooms, herbs, curry, different stock cubes, so you will not get sick of it!

  31. steven

    I use brown rice as a breakfast cereal. Just mix in apples and raisins.

    And I cook brown rice in the microwave. One cup brown rice, two cups water. Cook on high for 5 minutes and then on 50% power for 30 minutes. No stirring or watching. The microwave does all the work. Perfect brown rice every time.

    Thanks for the information.

  32. ylc

    I developed a liking for brown rice when i found that it is more tastier with carrot, salt, spices and cooked peas. Basmati brown rice is very tasty

  33. Regina Eze

    Hi, I received a text that says that spices which contain monosodium glutamate cause:nausea, headache, and allergic reactions. Is this true?

  34. Nava

    Some people do react very badly to MSG. Not everyone experiences these adverse reactions, but it really isn’t good for anyone.

  35. Perry Broadie

    I am an older man and all these years I thought rice was just used as a filler. I thank you and all others for the good info. Will get brown rice next time to the store. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!!

  36. Joy

    I love this article, but as cook, I want to tell you that brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice

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