There have been many trends recently that probably left you with the urge to shift to brown rice. But why have these trends gained traction? What benefits does brown rice have that white rice doesn’t? The answer is simple — a wide variety of nutrients and resultant health benefits like weight loss and reduced risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and many more. Moreover, unlike white rice, brown rice is minimally processed and its bran and germ are retained.
In this article, we explore the health benefits of brown rice, its nutritional profile, potential side effects, and how to add it to your diet. Keep reading.
In This Article
What Is Brown Rice?
Unprocessed rice has three layers:
- The husk
- The bran
- The endosperm (it has the germ that can later grow into a paddy plant).
White rice is usually processed by removing the husk, bran, and germ. However, brown rice is a whole grain that retains the bran (the most nutritious part of the rice grain) and the germ barring the husk.
With the bran left unpolished, brown rice is bound to have more nutrients than white rice. Here is the nutritional breakdown of brown rice.
Brown Rice Nutrition Facts
100g of brown rice contain (1):
Zinc, iron, copper, selenium, manganese, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin E and its various forms, and vitamin K are present in trace amounts. “Brown rice is also a rich source of phenols and flavonoids,” says Sally Stevens, a registered dietitian nutritionist.
The nutrient mix of brown rice is surely impressive. But how does it benefit your health? We discover the six major benefits of brown rice in the following section.
Benefits Of Brown Rice
1. May Improve Heart Health
A large study indicates that eating fibers from grains may reduce the risk of premature death, especially from cardiovascular disease (CVD) (2).
Brown rice also contains a compound called lignan, which is associated with a reduced risk of CVD and related mortality. However, more studies are warranted to understand this benefit of lignans (3).
The magnesium in brown rice may also help. Higher intake of magnesium was found to combat metabolic syndrome and hypertension, reduce CVD risk (especially ischemic and coronary heart disease risk) (4).
2. May Help Manage Diabetes
Brown rice is a rich source of fiber that helps improve digestion and slow down starch digestion (5). This, in turn, slows down the release of glucose into the bloodstream. This mechanism helps regulate blood sugar levels in those with diabetes. It also may reduce the risk of diabetes in healthy individuals. Rice bran also contains magnesium and γ-oryzanol that may help control blood sugar levels. A study found that consuming brown rice for eight weeks twice a day had reduced levels of hemoglobinA1c (HbAic), a marker for blood sugar (6).
3. May Help With Weight Loss
Excess energy intake is linked with obesity and related illnesses (7). Brown rice has a lower glycemic index than white rice due to its higher fiber content (8). Foods rich in fiber promote satiety and discourage overeating.
Brown rice as a dietary staple is also believed to help people who are overweight to shed more pounds and reduce their body mass index. Brown rice also contains more dietary fiber than white rice. High-fiber foods cause you to feel fuller longer and reduce calorie intake.
4. May Slow Down Premature Aging
Vitamin E in brown rice has strong antioxidant properties and prevents the adverse effects of oxidative stress on the skin, including photoaging. This may help reduce the risk of various skin disorders and delay premature aging (9).
The phenolic compounds in brown rice may help reduce skin redness and soothe skin irritation. The antioxidants in the rice may also slow down the aging process and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. However, more research is warranted in this regard.
5. May Help Improve Overall Health
Brown rice is rich in manganese, whose deficiency may lead to many complications, including low fertility, stunted or impaired growth, and poor bone formation and skeletal defects. Manganese may help prevent metabolic syndrome and reduce the risk of obesity and other illnesses (10).
Brown rice contains high levels of antioxidants, especially flavonoids and phenols. These antioxidants prevent free radical damage and may help prevent chronic diseases like cancer, CVD, obesity, and type 2 diabetes (11).
6. Is Gluten-Free
Studies suggest that gluten may increase the risk of autoimmune disease in some individuals. Brown rice is gluten-free. Hence, people with celiac disease (a condition where your immune system attacks your own tissues when you eat gluten) can add it to their diet (12). Besides, you may also consume brown rice if you are allergic or sensitive to gluten (which is present in wheat).
Adding brown rice to your diet helps you reap all these benefits. But does it have any side effects? How much should you eat and who should avoid it? Keep reading to know the answers.
Side Effects Of Brown Rice
Brown rice has a high content of phosphorus and potassium and must be consumed in controlled portions if you are on a renal diet (13).
Brown rice also contains arsenic, whose long-term consumption may increase the risk of cancer, heart disease, and type-2 diabetes in some individuals (14).
However, consuming it in moderation as part of a varied diet should not cause any issue in most people.
Adding brown rice to your diet is easy. Here are a few ways to do it.
How To Add Brown Rice To Your Diet
- Cook as a side dish for your curries
- Make risottos.
- Prepare porridge for breakfast.
- Make desserts.
The recommended serving of brown rice is one cup (about 150g) a day. Experts say that this is enough to meet your daily requirements of most nutrients.
The Bottom Line
Nutrient-rich brown rice can be a healthy substitute for the white variety. It is high in dietary fiber, vitamins, essential minerals, and antioxidants like flavonoids and phenols. Consuming brown rice regularly may help improve overall health, manage blood sugar levels, lose weight, slow down premature aging, and even reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Moreover, it is gluten-free and is ideal for those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. However, brown rice contains arsenic (a chemical element), which may cause adverse effects in some individuals. Therefore, consume it in moderation.
- Brown rice is unprocessed rice with more nutrients than white rice.
- It has an impressive nutrient profile that may improve heart health and help you manage diabetes.
- While consuming brown rice in moderation is considered safe, excess intake in the long run may increase the risk of cancer and heart disease in some people.
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- Rice brown long-grain raw
- Dietary fiber intake and mortality in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study
- Dietary lignans: physiology and potential for cardiovascular disease risk reduction
- Dietary Magnesium and Cardiovascular Disease: A Review with Emphasis in Epidemiological Studies
- Designing food structure to slow down digestion in starch-rich products
- Eating glutinous brown rice twice a day for 8 weeks improves glycemic control in Japanese patients with diabetes mellitus
- The Role of Fiber in Energy Balance
- Phytochemical Profile of Brown Rice and Its Nutrigenomic Implications
- The role of vitamin E in normal and damaged skin
- Phytochemical Profile of Brown Rice and Its Nutrigenomic Implications
- Triggers and drivers of autoimmunity: lessons from coeliac disease
- Diet and Chronic Kidney Disease
- Arsenic and Diabetes: Assessing Risk at Low-to-Moderate Exposures