Choosing the right grain is not as simple as you think. Our expert explains why white rice may be the healthier option.
Somewhere along the line a terrible rumor was started: White rice is bad and brown rice is good. We’re not sure who started it, but Ryan Andrews, RD and Director of Education for Precision Nutrition is here to explain the confusion:
The claim: All white foods are ‘bad.’
The truth: “Many nutrition experts demonize all ‘white’ foods: white rice, potatoes, pasta, white bread, etc. because it’s an easy rule to remember and grasp, but these foods are really only a problem if you overeat them, which usually happens when you slather them in salty, fatty, sugary sauces—also making them a vehicle for salt, sugar and fat.”
The claim: Brown rice is higher in fiber (one cup of cooked brown rice packs about 3 grams of fiber, while white contains only .5 grams) so it will keep you feeling full longer.
The truth: “If rice were the only thing being consumed at a meal, brown rice would likely take a bit longer to digest, and hence, someone would probably be more satiated after eating it. Satiety is governed by the components of an entire meal though, so if someone were having curry lentils, veggies and added a side of white rice instead of brown, it probably wouldn’t make much of a difference.”
The claim: Brown rice is less processed than white and is therefore healthier.
The truth: “Usually the more unprocessed a food, the better, because it contains more nutrients, but in this case the unprocessed component of the brown-rice grain contains both nutrients (good things for us to consume) and some antinutrients (maybe not a good thing for us to consume), which are what the plant uses as a defense system against pests.”
The claim: White rice is packed with empty calories.
The truth: “Rice has been a part of many healthy cultures for years, and since it’s what I call ‘calorie dilute’ (a low number of calories per unit of food), it’s tough to overconsume. To put it in perspective:
100 grams of cooked rice = 130 calories
100 grams of cooked ground beef = 260 calories
100 grams of Skittles = 410 calories”
The bottom line: You can’t really go wrong either way. Andrews suggests alternating grains each time you dine.