It’s a popular modern debate: brown rice vs. white rice. But which is better?
I don’t know about you, but I never saw brown rice until I went to college. I was raised strictly in a Minute Rice family and aside from the occasional side of gravy, my rice remained white throughout my formative years. As I got older, I developed an affinity for brown rice. Its naturally “nutty” texture and flavor just seemed more fulfilling and it prompted me to do the research on the difference between these two “grain cousins. “They’re actually not cousins at all: both brown and white rice are the same rice. It’s the process it follows from the field to your table that differs.
Brown Rice vs. White Rice: the Process
The first step rice takes on the way to your kitchen is the removal of the hull. Once the hull is removed, you’re left with brown rice. In order to obtain white rice, there are a few more steps, however. Following hull removal, rice is then milled and polished. As with any processing, these additional steps remove a fair amount of the nutritional value from rice. In fact, a good rule of thumb when considering the nutritional value of any food is to consider how much processing went into making it. Not to suggest that white rice is bad for you, but it certainly lacks some good stuff that brown rice keeps.
Brown rice is the least processed of the two varieties of rice and thus retains more of it nutritional value. On the average, brown rice boasts greater levels of naturally occurring vitamins B1, B3 and B6 as well as significantly greater levels of dietary fiber, selenium and manganese (all of which contribute to colon health). While all white rice in the United States must be enriched with vitamins B1, B3 and B6, the vitamins aren’t nearly as bioavailable as their natural sources found in brown rice.
Preparation of Rice
When buying any kind of rice, be sure to rinse the grains under cool water to remove any debris before cooking. To conserve water, rice is best cooked using the absorption method. Add one part rice to two parts water, bring to a boil and then cover at a simmer until the water is absorbed. This keeps you from having to add additional water and allows you to use as little water as possible during the cooking process by making the most of the steam and condensation.
Nathan Joynt works with Gaiam.com, a leading yoga and healthy living company in Boulder, Colorado.
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