Brown Rice Vs. White Rice: Differences & Which One Is Better?

One is healthier than the other, according to many healthcare enthusiasts.

Medically reviewed by Rachelle Caves, RDN, CNSC, CPT Rachelle Caves Rachelle CavesRDN, CNSC, CPT twitter_iconinsta_icon
Written by , B.Desgn, ISSA Certified Specialist In Fitness & Nutrition Tanya Choudhary B.Desgn, ISSA Certified Specialist In Fitness & Nutrition twitter_icon Experience: 2 years
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While rice is a staple to many of us, we find it in different color and grain varieties. Most commonly, when it comes to brown rice vs white rice, do you know how to differentiate between the two? Is it just the color or are there any differences in their nutrients as well? Today, with many of us getting health-conscious, we are advised to stay away from white carbs, whether it is white bread, white sugar, white pasta, or white rice. While you may choose to stay away from white rice to reduce your carbs intake, brown rice can make for a healthier alternative! Even if you use rice regularly, consuming the unrefined whole grain brown rice makes sure you get the maximum nutrient benefits without the possible side effects of white carbs! Brown rice can substitute white rice in almost all dishes without making you feel guilty about it! To know more about how brown rice vs. white rice fare against each other and their nutritional differences, keep reading!

Difference Between White Rice And Brown Rice

Does brown rice deserve all the love?

Should we abandon white rice for the healthier choice?

What makes brown rice ‘healthier’?

Does it really matter?

Honestly, the whole hullabaloo about the perfect rice variety goes right above my head. Brown rice is brown rice, and white is white. Is brown rice better than white rice? Most today endorse brown rice. But what if I don’t like the taste of it?

How different is brown rice from its white counterpart? To ease your mind and the process, I’ve noted down the difference in points. Scroll down to know in detail about brown rice vs white rice!

Sl. No.Brown RiceWhite Rice

Brown rice is a whole grain. This means that it has all its part intact—the bran, germ, and the endosperm—only taking off the outer hull of the rice kernel. This also means it is high in nutrients, vitamins, and fiber.

The is the outer layer of the rice grain, and is full of antioxidants, fiber, and B vitamin. The middle layer, , is a rich source of essential proteins, some of the B vitamins, minerals, as well as healthy fats. The core, , contains carbohydrates, some proteins, and some of the vitamins and minerals. Brown rice is not stripped off any of these layers, which is both a blessing and a curse.


For starters, with all these layers comes difficulties to digest them. Brown rice is hard to digest, owing to its high fiber content. It also has a very nutty flavor, that is not everyone’s cup of tea or ‘bowl of rice,’ honestly. Brown rice also contains phytic acid, which may hinder absorption of certain nutrients.

White rice, on the other hand, is made from stripping off the germ and bran, leaving only the endosperm intact. This variety is milled and heavily polished to give the white color to the core. So, as expected, most of the nutrients, proteins and the antioxidants are lost in the process, making white rice an ‘unhealthy option.’ So, in the general opinion, when you’re downing that tasty bowl of white rice with perfect side dishes, you’re missing out on most of the essential vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, folate, and fiber.

But, this process also removes the bran layer, and thus eliminates the threat of phytic acid. Most importantly, white rice is easy to digest as the milling helps cut down the content of grain based fiber whose overdose can harm the gut, thus hampering the digestion process. Though fiber is beneficial for most individuals, people with certain digestive disorders may be advised to avoid fiber. In such a case, white rice would be an important


One cup of brown rice is believed to contain twice the amount of phosphorus and manganese (88 percent) like white rice. It also has two and half times the iron and three, four, and ten times the vitamin B3, vitamin B1, and vitamin B6, respectively. Just a portion of this variety fulfills almost 80 percent of the recommended daily requirement of manganese. This mineral is essential in the formation of good cholesterol, energy and sex hormone production. Brown rice also contains 27.3 percent (19.11 mcg) of selenium, 20.9 percent (83.85 mg) of magnesium, 83.85 mg of potassium and 18.7 tryptophan. That’s an impressive quantity, if we were, to be honest.

Even though the difference is quite small, brown rice contains more calories when compared to white rice. A bowl of cooked long grain brown rice contains about 216 calories to 206 of the white variety.

But it is important to note this type also contains phytic acid. This anti-nutrient is known for its effect on mineral absorption, impairing the absorption of essential minerals like iron, manganese, potassium, and magnesium (1, 2). In this case, people can go for sprouted grain brown rice that has fiber that helps

White rice is pretty unlucky in this department. The milling and processing of grain to form white rice rips off around 6o percent of iron, 80 percent of vitamin B1, 90 percent of vitamin B6, 67 percent of vitamin B3, as well as almost half the manganese, phosphorus and dietary fiber that is naturally present in the grain.

A cup of long grained white rice contains about 0.5 mg of manganese, 9.7 mcg of selenium, 8.7 mg of magnesium, 17.4 mg of potassium, and 206 calories.

The good thing here is that white rice is free of phytic acid, which saves all its mineral content.


Brown rice is low on the glycemic index (GI) making it a better choice for people with diabetes.

A study conducted on overweight Asians concluded that those who had more brown rice than white witnessed a successful reduction in their blood glucose levels. It also leads to reduced resistance to insulin (3).

But, this property is also dependent on the brown or white rice you are comparing to. On the GI scale of 0-100 with 100 being most susceptible to a glucose spike, and 0 being the least harmful, brown rice sits comfortably at 50 (4). This number looks like a king when you are weighing your options between this variety and white jasmine rice (79) or short grain white rice (89).

But compare brown rice with white basmati rice and guess what! They are on the same level.

With the high content of carbohydrates (remember the endosperm story?) white rice is known to have a higher glycemic index. This way it is quite harmful to the diabetics.

If you are a white rice lover and can’t go without it even for a day, I suppose you can do better by cutting down on the portion or going for a low GI variety like white basmati rice.


Brown rice is believed to be a healthier option for those looking to shed some pounds. As explained earlier, this whole grain variety is packed with most of the essential vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, as well as proteins, which makes it incredibly heart friendly. It also has an impressive fiber content which helps facilitate proper bowel movement, thus aiding weight loss.

Being a whole grain variety, brown rice is well suited for people having uncontrolled hunger pangs. It makes you feel full for a long time, thus controlling your calorie intake. Apart from all this, brown rice is also known to improve healthy gut bacteria in your microbiome.

The main downfall of this variety comes with its thick nature, which some people may find unappealing. With so many layers hindering, brown rice is tough to digest. Also, phytic acid here interferes with the proper mineral absorption. So, there is no guarantee that you’ll get all the nutrients promised.

Refined grains like white rice have forever been frowned upon due to their high carb and low fiber content. They might be limited in their nutrient content, but at least all of it is intact, unlike brown rice. They are almost phytic-acid free and can be easily digested.

Additionally, the calories in white rice are fewer when compared to its counterpart, even though the difference is quite small.

All of this shows that white rice is not a bad option for weight watchers if the portion size is controlled.


It is a given that brown rice, being nutrient and fiber-heavy, is not that easily digested. The main reason behind it is the presence of problematic middle layer bran which is home to all the fiber and phytic acid.

White rice, on the other hand, is a feasible digestive option. It has limited fiber content, and contains most of the nutrients, even though in a limited quantity. All of these factors make white rice variety superior for those with a weak digestive system.

With all the grain layers intact, brown rice contains a significant amount of arsenic, several folds more than its white variety. That’s why brown rice should not be eaten often or in an unlimited quantity. In fact, many of the brown rice brands have been reported to contain at least 50% more than the safe amount of arsenic, per cup, with several others exceeding the limit by two folds. (5)

So it’s a given that, even with its whole grain promises, intake of more than one serving of top quality brown rice will expose you to the toxic arsenic. Portion-controlling is the key here. It also shows that brown rice is not fit to be made a dietary staple.

Long-term consumption of arsenic is known to increase the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, Type II diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases (6, 7, 8).

The ‘unhealthy’ white rice, especially the jasmine and basmati variety, is believed to contain the lowest levels of the toxic arsenic.

Rinsing the rice is even better. Doing this will not only get rid of impurities but also helps in further reduction of the arsenic levels.


Brown rice, while being all nutrient-dense, somewhat lacks in the healthy carb content. This proportion is highly overshadowed by the layers of fiber on the whole grain.

Though frowned upon, optimum carb content is essential for our body to function properly. It helps provide us with endless energy and is critical for keeping hormone production under control in women.

White rice is ripped off all the additional layers and thus, has a better carb content.

Just make sure you have superior white rice varieties, such as jasmine and basmati, in a limited manner to fulfill your carbohydrate requirements for the day. One cup of cooked long-grained white rice in a day is a reasonable quantity.


If we go by the nutrient data available, brown rice is said to have about four times the magnesium as white rice. This shows that having brown rice occasionally can help maintain stronger teeth and bones.

Comparably, white rice falls short of minerals; Thus it is not a viable option for those wanting to strengthen their teeth and bones.

Both the rice varieties have low on fat. But, brown rice contains a little higher amount of fat when compared to its sister variety.

A cup of brown rice contains about three grams of fat when compared to the one gram of fat in white rice.

 Is white rice fattening? White rice, though named ‘unhealthy and fattening’ contains lesser fat compared to its ‘heathier’ substitute.

In the race to become healthier variety, this is another aspect where brown rice falls somewhat short.

While this variety is rich in essential B vitamins, it contains a comparably lesser amount of folate. This vitamin is absolutely necessary for women, particularly those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

White rice is an excellent source of folate. A cup of white rice contains about 95 micrograms of folate. This unhealthy counterpart of rice is not unhealthy after all.

Brown Rice Vs White Rice – The Verdict

Brown rice vs White rice
Image: Shutterstock

As we just saw, the difference between white rice and brown rice is not much. But it is definitely clear that brown rice isn’t the purest of the variety, it has its own flaws. What matters most is the taste, your choice, and your budget.

Honestly, a cup of white rice won’t make you gain weight, like how a cup of brown rice won’t make you look better.

Always remember, nutrition is not a ‘one size fits all’ science—the degree of absorption and the effect varies from person to person. We all know that there are individuals who can eat everything and remain petite and, then there are those like me, prone to quick weight gain despite being on a strict diet. It’s all about your metabolism, really.

My suggestion to you will be to remember these points next time you go grocery shopping:

  1. Eating rice is okay—whatever variety be it. Just keep the quantity in check. Not a fan of rice? It’s okay. But make sure you have a healthy source of carb in your diet that can substitute rice.
  2. White rice or brown rice—it’s totally up to you. The nutrients and the effects are almost the same. Let your taste buds be the judge. Just control the quantity and the frequency with brown rice.
  3. Weight watchers, keep in mind that your choice of rice variant is not going to make you gain weight unnecessarily. It’s the portion size that matters.
  4. Be smart, play with the varieties. Nature offers us plentiful choices, so it’s better that you play with it. Use basmati one day, and change to brown rice the next day. Do the same with long-grained and the short-grained variants. Make your meals enjoyable.
  5. Always remember that all the differences in calories, nutrients, and GI don’t matter because no person will have just a cup of rice, without an accompanying dish. It’s the overall meal that matters—rice alone is not going to make you fat or slim.
  6. As for those with diabetes, there is no way that you are going to have rice on an empty stomach, apart from the first meal of the day. It means that you are going to have it when your system already has some food in it. This further means that its effect on the blood glucose will be next to nothing. So brave up, and have your portion. Avoid having it first thing in the morning.

After carefully analyzing the pros and cons of both the rice varieties, it’s safe to conclude that while white and brown rice have their advantages, it doesn’t matter what you are having unless the portion-size is compromised. Be clear that, brown rice is not the king and white rice doesn’t deserve all the hate it gets. Both are almost similar—like apples and apples. In fact, several points favor white rice over the brown rice, like the phytic acid content, digestibility, and arsenic content.

The debate of brown rice vs. white rice is prevalent among weight watchers. Brown rice is rich in proteins, B vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats, but white rice lacks these major nutrients as the germ and bran are stripped off. Brown rice is nutrient-dense, helps manage diabetes, is easily digestible, and aids in weight loss. White rice is rich in folate, and brown rice may fall short of it. But white rice may lack all these properties as it is highly processed. However, these differences are not major, and both these weigh equally in many aspects. You can choose the one which best suits your diet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it OK to eat brown rice every day?

Yes, it is safe to eat brown rice every day. It has various vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, and vitamins B1 and B6 that help promote overall health if included as a part of your diet.

Is brown rice keto?

No, brown rice is not keto-friendly. It has a significant amount of carbohydrates, which makes it unsuitable for the keto diet.

Is brown rice good for losing belly fat?

Although brown rice may not directly contribute to belly fat loss, its high fiber content helps promote satiety and reduces food intake, which may trigger weight loss.

Disclaimer: “The content in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult your physician before starting a diet, exercise, or supplement regimen. This article is intended for educational purposes only.”

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Rachelle Caves
Rachelle CavesRDN, CNSC, CPT
Rachelle Caves is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Certified Nutrition Support Clinician, and Certified Personal Trainer. She has 12 years of significant experience providing nutrition therapy for a wide range of conditions, including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, while helping clients achieve weight loss without counting calories or restricting carbohydrates.

Read full bio of Rachelle Caves
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