White rice, despite being a staple food in several Asian countries, is still quite controversial in nutrition circles. There are nutritionists who call white rice as an empty source of calories and therefore, you are better off without it. Meanwhile, there are others who say it is a type of starch that you can consider safe, particularly when consumed in moderation.

According to some experts, brown rice is the healthier choice. The difference between white and brown lies in the fact that white rice has been refined. This means it underwent some process, including the removal of the germ layers, bran, and husk. Unfortunately, this process also gets rid of most of the nutrition in the rice. So, does this mean you should stop eating rice?

Is White Rice Healthy or Unhealthy?

Here are the nutrition facts about white rice:

  • One cup of white rice contains 165 calories.
  • The total amount of carbohydrates is 35 grams per cup.
  • White rice only has 0.6 grams of fiber compared to three grams in brown rice.
  • White rice has about three to four grams of protein.

When it comes to vitamins and minerals, white rice fails to provide as much as brown rice, which has the following nutrients:

  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium
  • Selenium
  • Manganese
White rice may be nice, but you still need to read this / PicHelp
White rice may be nice, but you still need to read this / PicHelp

White rice also contains the mentioned minerals, but in lower amounts. Nevertheless, it does provide more of the following nutrients than brown rice:

  • Folic acid
  • Thiamin
  • Niacin
  • Iron

The nutrients above are needed by the body to have healthy red blood cells. Meanwhile, thiamin and niacin are used for the body’s metabolic processes.

The Glycemic Index Difference

Brown and white rice also differ in the glycemic index (GI), which denotes the quickness and level of blood sugar when food is consumed. High GI means that the body will digest it faster, but will cause higher blood sugar increase. White rice has higher GI value than its brown counterpart and this is actually one of the biggest reasons why people are advised to eat the latter instead.

Eating low GI foods is a good idea for the following reasons:

  • Easier to prevent weight gain or lose weight
  • Helps protect heart against diseases
  • Fights diabetes
  • Easier to control hunger

For these reasons alone, it is almost evident that white rice is not healthy. Harvard has published a study that showed eating at least five helpings of white rice every week can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by almost 20%.  On the other hand, those who choose to eat brown rice (at least two servings per week) can see a decrease in risk of the disease by up to 11%. Indeed, the choice is obvious.