Should we Eat Brown Rice or White Rice?

paleo white or brown rice
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paleowhite or brown riceI recently wrote an article discussing the pros and cons of eating rice on a paleo diet.  But I’ve been asked why I felt that white rice was better than brown rice if you are eating a paleo diet.

I found a pretty good explanation to this question and thought I would share it with you.

Brown rice is the “whole grain” of the rice.  It consists of three parts.  The outer layer is known as the bran.  It has a high concentration of both fiber and nutrients.  The rest of the grain consists of the germ and the endosperm.  The germ is a small concentration of vitamins, folate, EFA’s and other nutrients whose purpose is to provide sustenance to the grain as it develops.  The remainder of the grain is the endosperm.  The endosperm contains comparatively little nutrition next to the bran and the germ and is mostly starch.  White rice is the rice grain with the bran and the germ removed, leaving only the endosperm.  Now, you may be wondering why anyone would possibly eat white rice versus brown rice at this point.  It’s basically just starch with all the nutrition removed.  Why would anyone want to eat that?  Well, read on!

While the bran and the germ contain the majority of nutrition found in a whole rice grain, brown rice is still relatively weak nutrition-wise.  100g of cooked brown rice contains 111 calories, 0.9g of fat (with about 1/3 coming from omega 6), 23g carbohydrate, 2g of fiber, 3g of protein and a respectable dose of manganese, magnesium and selenium.  Compare that to, say, 100g of raw cauliflower, which not only can be turned into a great rice substitute,  but contains only 25 calories, 0.1g of fat (with 1/3 of that coming from omega 3), 5g of carbohydrate, 3g of fiber, 2g of protein and a nice shot of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate and a myriad of other nutrients.  Brown rice isn’t exactly nutrient dense, so using it as a dietary staple to achieve RDA’s of nutrients could be disastrous.  While white rice may be even less nutrient dense, since we’re not eating any kind of grain as a means of ingesting vitamins and minerals to begin with, that argument slips through the cracks.

The biggest issue with brown rice is it is loaded with anti-nutrients.  According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, approximately 0.84-0.99% of the dry weight of brown rice is phytic acid.  That may not sound like a lot, but compare that to wheat flour, which contains 0.25-1.37% phytic acid per dry weight.  Since white rice has the bran and germ removed, the phytic acid content is roughly on par with white potatoes, which rank in at 0.111-0.269%.  If that sounds high, compare it to the precious almond, a darling of the Paleo/Primal community.  The almond ranks in at 1.35-3.22% phytic acid, making it one of the worst offenders on the list.  In fact, most nuts are higher in phytic acid content than grains.  In short, the phytic acid content of white rice is rather negligible and does not require soaking.  Levels will be even lower after boiling.  In essence, white rice is a relatively “clean” starch and I consider it to be benign, or at least as benign as Paleo/Primal starches such as potatoes and yams.

You can read the full article here.

So if I were to choose to eat rice on a paleo diet, I would be more inclined to eat white rice or brown rice.

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  1. Bonnes
    2 years ago

    Thank you for this post, this pretty much confirmed what my instincts told me would be the better rice between the two if I were to ever delve back into those starches. I thought it was an ironic assumption on my part considering how brown rice is constantly tooted for it’s health benefits and nutritional properties. Brown rice just seems too similar to wheat to me and I figured if anyone on the paleo diet was going to go with either, they just might be better off with the more processed version of this type of starch. Sorry, I know that sounds bad to say since one of the biggest commitments to the paleo diet is avoiding processed foods. But if you had to choose… just sayin

    Thanks again!