Alright. I’m just gonna come right out and say it.
There’s Nothing Wrong with White Rice.
That’s right. You heard me. I LOVE WHITE RICE. And I eat it all the time.
I’m getting pretty sick of people lumping together white rice in the same category as other “refined carbs” such as that oh-so-scary white flour and sugar on which people blame every single disease and disorder known to man. In Hawaii, where I was living up until recently, the standard local diet is commonly labeled as being very unhealthy, in large part due to the huge amount of white rice consumed. You put rice on your plate with every meal. Even breakfast. Eggs with spam — oh but it’s surely those two scoops of sticky rice on the side that’s to blame!
“Cut out those refined carbs! Like white rice and bread!” they say.
Well I say, think again, healthy diet dogma-spreaders. That’s nothing but a bunch of dogma dog poo.
Rice is delightful. It’s healthful, it’s nutritious, it’s a great source of energy. And if you ask me, white rice is the most delightful of all. As much as that makes me sound like some sort of weirdo rice-racist, I promise you, I can explain.
White Rice vs Brown Rice
Are you convinced that brown rice truly is superior to white? Let’s look at the differences.
Brown rice is brown because it’s got the bran on it. White rice is just rice with the bran and germ removed.
The germ is extremely susceptible to rancidity, which is bad because of the very high content of polyunsaturated fat it contains, which is easily oxidized, and leads to all sorts of problematic reactions in the body. Great. Leave it out, then.
The bran is good for pretty much nothing but fiber. But, you know what? (Oh, man — brace yourselves! Major violation of politically-correct nutrition advice, coming your way!)
FIBER IS NOT GOD’S GREATEST GIFT TO NUTRIENT-KIND.
Many people eat way, way too much fiber, which can lead to serious digestive disorders, and even colon cancer. Read Fiber Menace for more information on that. I’m not saying we should be afraid of it, but if you’re finding the need to intentionally force yourself to eat more of it, like in fibery brown rice, there’s a bigger issue you’re not dealing with.
So, everyone choking down their Fiber-One cereals and psyllium husks really aren’t doing themselves any favors at all. And the only reason they’re constipated is because their metabolism sucks! (Which you can fix!) Healthy people don’t need tons of fiber, and they generally don’t need to go out of their way looking for it.
Fiber. Check. Don’t need it. What else is there?
Oh, alright, fine. There are some nutrients in rice bran. Some B vitamins, some minerals, amino acids, blah, blah — yes, most naturally-occurring foods have nutrients.
And along with those nutrients, quite a lot of anti-nutrients are all up in your brown rice bran, too!
Stop the Hate! Brown Rice Really isn’t All That Great.
Yeah, so, that other thing that the rice bran has to bestow upon our righteously-healthy-whole-grain-eating selves?
Yes. The primary anti-nutrient we traditional foodies work so hard to negate by soaking, sprouting, or fermenting our grains. Rice bran is very high in phytic acid, which binds to minerals in your body and leaches them out of you.
What’s that you say? Just soak the rice, as you would traditionally prepare other whole grains, and the phytic acid will be neutralized?
Not according to one of the biggest phytic acid haters of all time (and one of the most knowledgable experts on the subject), author of Cure Tooth Decay, Ramiel Nagel. He says that soaking brown rice does very little to neutralize it, and that before we had machines to make white rice, traditional people used to pound the rice up with a mortar and pestle and then sift out the bran, making the available minerals more absorbable since the phytic acid in the bran is removed. Smart!
So, let’s recap. The phytic acid in rice lives in the bran. White rice doesn’t have it. The only other thing the bran is good for is fiber, which you really probably don’t need, and can harm you when eaten in excess. And the germ is filled with easily-oxidized PUFA oils. Also not present in white rice.
Starting to see where I’m coming from with my love for this much-maligned “processed” grain?
White Rice Nutrition: Starch is Super
So, what are we left with when we take away the oily, rancid germ and the mineral-depleting phytic acid from our little friend, the grain of rice? The endosperm. Which is essentially pure starch.
Sadly, this has become somewhat of a dirty word in the world of nutrition. People who advocate low-carb and so-called “ancestral” diets often like to say that starch is toxic because it breaks down into glucose, which raises insulin, which can cause problems like insulin resistance.
Here’s the thing, though, about our bodies. We run on glucose. It’s our primary fuel source, and we need it. And glucose from carbohydrates like starch doesn’t actually cause insulin resistance at all.
In fact, it’s a huge part of the diet of many, many healthy traditional cultures.
There are literally billions of people eating high-starch diets worldwide, and you can find many examples of cultures that consume a large percentage of calories from starch where obesity, metabolic problems and modern, inflammatory disease are rare or nonexistent. These include the Kitava in the Pacific Islands, Tukisenta in the Papa New Guinea Highlands and Okinawans in Japan among others. The Kitavan diet is 69% carb, 21% fat, and 10% protein. The Okinawan diet is even more carb-heavy, at 85% carb, 9% protein and 6% fat. The Tukisenta diet is astonishingly high in carbohydrate: 94.6% according to extensive studies in the 60s and 70s. All of these cultures are fit and lean with low and practically non-existent rates of heart disease and other modern chronic disease.
Don’t get me wrong… I’m not advocating low-fat or 95% carb or anything, here (and neither is Chris). It’s just important that we understand that starch is a nutrient in its own right, eating lots of it can be congruent with health and leanness, and it doesn’t have to be eaten only in “moderation.” White rice is an excellent source of healthful starch and supplies the body with needed glucose.
Oh and also? Getting plenty of glucose flowing into your body is a hugely important part of fixing a slow metabolism. My mother, who’s been using Diet Recovery to raise her body temperatures, heal hypothyroidism, and improve her metabolism, says that nothing gets her temperature rising (literally) quite like white rice. A scoop or two of the stuff and she’s one burnin’ hot mama. I’m not surprised. It’s a great source of quick, easily digestible glucose. White rice to the metabolic rescue!
So Which Rice is Best?
Some types of rice are actually more nutritious than others. In general, it’s better to go with the long-grain varieties of white rice. Long-grain varieties are supposed to be nutritionally superior to plainer, short-grain types of rice.
Really though, the differences probably aren’t huge. It’s all basically the same thing — starch. Long grain basmati and jasmine are the tastiest to me, so that’s what I usually eat, but I’m all for some sticky sweet rice now and again, too.
And I guess, along the same lines, if you genuinely, honestly prefer brown rice to white, eat that. But I mean, really be honest with yourself. Does it taste better to you because you think it’s better for you? Kinda like how some people think veggie burgers are delicious… I mean, come on. Have you tried grass-finished ground sirloin?! You just cannot honestly tell me that you prefer genetically-modified textured vegetable protein over that. I’m sorry.
Anyway. Don’t drink the Haterade of the anti-white-rice crowd. Eat the rice you want to eat. Put plenty of butter on it (it’ll help you absorb more nutrients), and enjoy.
Do you eat white rice?
Why or why not?
Robin @ Thank Your Body says
Oh Emily! Your blog is quickly becoming my favorite. Love this. Lots of love, even. Pass the white rice!
Haha! That sure made me smile!! 😀 Thanks, Robin!
Hey– Doesn’t Nourishing Traditions advise brown rice? I know some white rices are all natural and good– but as I am just starting Nourishing Traditions and I know you have posted about recipes from NT, I was wondering what you have to say about the conflict of this post and the rice suggestions of NT.
Yep, Sally does advocate for soaked brown rice in Nourishing Traditions. I get it, I mean, NT is all about whole, traditional foods, and white rice is a more modern commodity. Although, like I mentioned, Rami Nagel claims that traditional cultures still tried their best to remove the bran (the brown part).
Sally suggests a “long, slow steaming in mineral-rich broth” for rice, which I think is a great way to cook it. Whether or not slow-cooking or soaking actually deactivates phytic acid in brown rice is still up for debate, though. Which is another reason I just don’t even bother with it and go for white rice, instead.
Penniless Parenting says
I like white rice. Its our staple carb around here, together with potatoes and bananas. Its cheap, its filling, its easy to digest, and it DOESN’T GIVE ME A STOMACH ACHE like brown rice does.
I’ve been telling people this truth about white rice, that its good for your body, that the bran in the brown rice is bad for you, etc… but I’ve only managed to convince some people. But apparently, Mark Sisson does say that white rice is the only OK grain, and he’s anti grain, so I figure if even he says white rice is fine, I’m good.
So glad you’re quoting Chris Kresser- he makes a lot of sense to me.
Now what about fruit? Are you on the same page with him about fruit and fructose being bad for you?
Great point, Penny — many of the biggest grain-haters out there are all for white rice (Mercola, Paul Jaminet, and others in addition to Sisson) as they claim it to be a “safe” starch. And that really ought to tell us something, I think.
I’m definitely not on Team Anti-Fruit. Not a fan of manufactured concentrated fructose, of course, but natural fructose is fine and dandy by me, and many other researchers who know a lot more about this stuff than I do.
Farm Mom Corinne says
That’s funny you mention the stomach ache…I get stomach pains from white rice. 🙂
And heartburn…!!! Oh my goodness, the heartburn I get when I eat sushi has taken me off traditional and gone to brown rice sushi. Everything else the same, just no heartburn.
Again, I think so much of it depends on our own bodies. Whole foods, IMO, are best. But then again, I am also a HUGE fan of the Eat Right For Your Blood Type theory. Time will tell for all of us natural food lovers though, eh?
sushi white rice has vinager and sugar. Prob why
Vanessa Pruitt says
Thank you for pointing out the difference in starch and sugar. I am a hypoglycemic, and I can tell you we do more harm to our bodies by the high fructose corn syrup and mega loads of sugar we add to products than just eating good ‘old fashioned’ baked goods and white rice made with real butter and little amounts of sugar. We love white rice at my house! I also bake a lot of goodies at home, even sweets, which contain much less sugar and not-so-healthy oils than store-bought goodies. We love starch here, including those home baked goodies, white rice, and potatoes.
Hooray for starch!! Good for you, Vanessa! I love lots of baked goodies, myself. 🙂
DUUUUDE….I had no idea. So all that freaking time I spend sprouting brown rice in batches to make my life easier doesn’t need to be done with white rice?! This is the most life altering news I’ve heard since I fell in love with Matt Stone! Hmmm…I’ve got some shopping to do….. 😉
Yeah uh, I definitely don’t go through all that trouble myself, haha! I mean, don’t get me wrong — sprouted grains are great, and sprouting is supposed to be a very effective way to neutralize phytic acid. I wonder what Nagel would have to say about sprouted brown rice. But yeah, going with white is a lot easier, cheaper, and less time consuming! 🙂
Kathy @ Granny's Vital Vittles says
We eat white rice at our house too! We started a few years back when it became clear it was pretty much impossible to buy brown rice that wasn’t already rancid, yuck! Then when I learned more about the history of the milling of rice, that brown rice was NOT traditionally eaten, I gave up even feeling bad about it 😉
Good for you, Kathy! I know, isn’t that interesting that people weren’t eating un-milled brown rice before someone decided to start telling us it was healthier? And you’re totally right about the rancidity thing. Especially when it comes from bulk bins. Icky.
I love making white rice with bone stock. It adds some flavor and tons of nutrients. Topped with butter, salt and pepper, it’s hard to say it’s unhealthy!
Amen to that! Great way to get more bone broth into your diet, for sure.
So interesting! I love it! If I weren’t on GAPS, I’d be cooking up a pot of yummy rice.
Thanks, Tamara! You’ll be back to rice someday, right? I’ve heard it’s one of the better things to re-introduce when you come off GAPS.
Sarah @ Raising Isabella says
I love this post! I made brown rice tonight, and I was wondering about this same thing. I’m so glad to know that my gut feeling was right! (As gut feelings often are!)
Good point, Sarah! A lot of people say brown rice often feels like a ton of bricks in their (literal) gut… maybe it’s trying to tell them something! 😉
Sorry, you are way off. I guess I don’t see the scientific research backing your claims…and as for white rice being somewhat “ok” for your diet, you pointed out yourself that white rice raises your insulin levels. That’s not good for most people. And brown rice has LOTS of nutrients that white rice has been completely stripped of. Sorry, you’re flat wrong.
Actually she said that:
“People who advocate low-carb and so-called “ancestral” diets often like to say that starch is toxic because it breaks down into glucose, which raises insulin, which can cause problems like insulin resistance.
We run on glucose. It’s our primary fuel source, and we need it. And glucose from carbohydrates like starch doesn’t actually cause insulin resistance at all”
I think you mistook the paragraph before for saying that white rice raises insulin levels, but she actually stating that this is what people think that starch does. In the second paragraph she says that is not what happens at all.
I suggest you read this again, and if you have scientific studies to counter the claims made here please do produce them. Emily is not a scientist, but she has read many nutrition books which she clearly cites as sources here; and whether or not these books are based on any scientific studies is another matter. But Emily has discovered what has worked for her and so many people, which is why her blog is well followed. She is not claiming her way is the be-all and end-all of nutrition.
Nutrition for everyone can be a highly individual thing, and what works for some may not work for others; but you have to admit, in this world of pollution and fake foods we are seeing more disease then ever recorded before.
The thing about science is (and I love science – it’s an absolutely wonderful tool of discovery and has opened doors for humans that we could not have fathomed years ago), that different studies at different times with different controls can show different things. There is a lot of learning then unlearning and relearning in science, so unless you have many solid studies coming to a similar conclusion, then the point can be lost. I would also prefer if nutrition claims could be backed up but all we have to go on for most of it is anecdotal evidence because it really is hard to prove anything within it, because everyone is different. All you can do is take all the information you find with a pinch of salt and use your own discerning mind, and maybe some experimentation, to decide whether this piece of information works for you or not.
Laura… I think I love you.
Aw shucks lol 🙂
I know this is a awhile after your comment, but I was directed here by an email.
Smith is correct. White rice raises glucose, exactly as Emily stated and you quoted.
And Smith pointed out that this then in turn causes insulin to be released. This is a metabolic fact. For someone who must monitor their glucose levels, this is an important fact.
White rice has no fiber, fat or protein to slow down its breakdown into glucose, thus it can cause an insulin spike (example of the raised temperature by Emily’s mom).
Important to note:
“As your body digests the food you eat, glucose builds up in the blood. In people without diabetes, glucose signals the body to release insulin. Insulin then lets glucose into the cells that need it. Without insulin, cells in the body can’t get the energy they need to live and grow. In people with type 1 diabetes, the body no longer makes insulin. Glucose can’t get to the cells that need it. In people with type 2 diabetes, the body makes and releases insulin, but the insulin has problems in getting enough glucose into the cells that need it.” ADA
Smith never mentioned insulin resistance, only that eating white rice acts like glucose and can raise insulin levels, which is true.
It is believed that chronic elevated insulin levels can most definitely contribute to Insulin Resistance and Metabolic Syndrome.
I would encourage readers to perform several postprandial blood glucose tests when considering eating foods such as white rice without combining it with fat, fiber or protein to mitigate the glucose-raising effects.
I really don’t think this phytic acid hate is based on reality all that much, it’s the same as the whole insulin drives obesity nonsense.
Phytic acid is such a strong anti-cancer agent that it’s sold as supplements, inositol is phytic acid.
I had perfect cavity free teeth, and zero health problems as a phytic acid fiend eating lots of legumes, brown rice, whole wheat.
Then after years free of health problems along came the paleo/low carb/wapf nonsense, I bought into it, and was even afraid of eating raw nuts because of the phytic acid, ate tons of animal fats, bone marrows, meat etc. dropped most of my carbs (100-150grams a day, much too low for me).
My health went down the toilet, and it has been a long recovery after two years of those “healthy” animal fats, meat etc.
Not saying that there is anything wrong meat, or animal fats etc. but they are not needed in excess, and some people do best with a mostly carby veggie diet, like me.
Also, not saying that whole wheat, brown rice etc. is needed for anyone, but they are not satan’s phytic acid concoction, really.
Also, just look at someone like sally fallon, I am sorry, but she is not healthy, I don’t know why I was so blind, but I am happy that more people are speaking up against low carb, wapf, paleo etc. and their bad experiences health wise with these diets which are mostly based on just fantasy arguments.
To be totally honest, I’m not 1000% convinced that phytic acid is so completely terrible, either. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my journey in educating myself on nutrition, it’s that you really need to keep an open mind. I think it’s more important to not be afraid of it, because like you seem to have experienced, being super freaked out and afraid to eat certain things doesn’t really do you any good. I do choose sprouted grains when I can, because I think they are healthy for reasons beyond the phytic acid neutralization.
I agree COMPLETELY that the whole paleo/low-carb thing is based on a whole lot of “fantasy” argument nonsense, as you said. And I think it’s such a shame that the WAPF seems to be migrating toward that line of thinking.
I also agree that there’s way too much emphasis on fats and meat in the WAPF sphere. Huge amounts of fat can be difficult to digest, muscle meat can be inflammatory, and you need a strong metabolism to handle it properly. Eating low-carb doesn’t support that.
Anyway. I am glad that you’ve figured out a way of eating that works for YOU, instead of just following what other people tell you will work for you. That’s so important. Thank you for sharing that!
I think just worrying about things too much is enough to wreak havoc on any person’s health. Those who absolutely positively believe they are doing the best the can for their health, will usually feel healthy even if they’re eating an awful diet. Sometimes health has more to do with a positive outlook than it does with what you eat. So I think people should just enjoy their food and be happy and active.
Couldn’t agree more, Melanie! What an insightful comment.
Honestly, I think you are wrong. I’m not sure what your credentials are, but there is a ton of science backing up the facts about white rice. It is a PROCESSED food that has been STRIPPED of most of it’s nutritional value. I think that eating nutrient dense brown rice as opposed to processed white rice is a pretty good thing. You talk about other countries that “live” on white rice. That’s right, they do. They have low rates of all kinds of diseases that we have the USA because they DON’T live on cheetos, McDonald’s, and processed everything. The fact that they consume lots of white rice and remain “healthy” has nothing to do with white rice, and whether it is good or bad. It has everything to do with other foods available to them. Where’s the science and studies backing up the claim that “there is nothing wrong with white rice”. I’m sorry, but you are throwing your OPINION out there like you have discovered some hidden health fact they rest of us don’t know. This post is not full of facts, but wishful thinking. Kind of like the low carb diet.
Care to show me the “tons of science backing up the facts about white rice” that differ from what I’ve explained here? I presented plenty of facts, myself. Especially considering this is a blog post, not a scientific journal. I’m not sure exactly what kind of credentials you’re expecting, either.
Anyway, the facts. White rice is stripped of the bran and the germ. There are some nutrients in those parts, but there’s also some things I’d prefer not to consume in them — like polyunsaturated fat and phytic acid. Many people, such as those whose research I referenced, agree that those things aren’t healthy. I actually didn’t talk at all about other countries “living” on white rice. I quoted Chris Kresser’s explanation that plenty of healthy cultures live on diets high in starch. White rice is a source of starch. Easy conclusion to draw from there. If you’d rather eat brown rice, go for it! I see no reason to.
Totally on board that the low-carb diet is full of “wishful thinking,” though! I wish more people were wise enough to not buy into it.
White polished rice – along with white sugar and vegetable oils – is one of the “displacing foods of modern commerce” that Weston A. Price had warned about contributing to dental caries and degenerative diseases. As someone of Chinese descent, I grew up eating lots of white rice and have poor dental health. Also I find that white rice “globs” in my throat and I can barely choke it down – my father had the same problem. Brown rice I can eat with no problem. N=1. I wish there were feed studies on humans or closely related mammals to answer some of these questions of how phytic acid is metabolized in vivo and whether it interferes with nutrient absorption as WAPFers maintain, or whether it helps the body detoxify. The universal condemnation of grains that Paleo/primal folks charge is not supported by Weston Price’s observation of healthy tribes. But, maybe back then there wasn’t widespread use of antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals that disrupted gut flora and ability to digest and assimilate these foods.
My children are going to love you. They all love rice and I have been forcing brown rice on them (and me) and we all basically hate it. Even when I mix it 1/2 and 1/2 with white (and of course it doesn’t cook at the same length of time so something is invariably crunchy). Honestly, I feel so much better reading this post! Maybe that’s silly, but we eat a lot of rice here (my husband is half-Japanese…. raised with rice at every meal), and we all prefer the white. Now, I will stop feeling guilty for giving it to them!
Do you soak the white rice as you would the brown? Or just rinse and cook? My 1/4 Japanese husband is too thrilled about this post 😉
LOL! Well that makes me happy. 🙂 Good question — nope, I don’t soak white rice. It would probably only help to make it a little more digestible, but wouldn’t reduce phytic acid, since the phytic acid lives in the bran, which is removed in white rice. I do love to cook it in homemade bone broth, though! Gives it good flavor and lots of awesome nutrition.
Amazing article. I’ve been eating a cup of organic white basmati/jasmine rice every day for a year now (did some research a while back). This article had a few things I didn’t know about!
Whenever someone asks why I eat white rice instead of brown, I’ll show them this, will save me a lot of time explaining. lol
PS – When I was eating brown rice daily, it caused weird intestine pain. Literally a day after switching to white rice the pain went away.
PSS – I eat the rice with organic grass fed butter, and wild alaskan sockeye salmon, it’s literally the best meal on the planet.
Fancy Tom says
my gut disagrees with you entirely. When I eat brown rice I feel satisfied, full, stable. White rice causes me an insulin spike and leaves me hungry and unsatisfied, yet somehow rang-ey. I stopped eating sushi because it was just too trashy feeling.
I don’t have any science for you because I listen to my gut, not labcoats, when I choose what to eat, so I’ll leave that for those knowledgable in that area.
All I know is that white rice feels like cheap empty carbs, while brown rice feels solid.
side note, while I like steak myself, I think you’re off & a little rude when you say people who say they like soy-burgers more are lying. Everybody is not you, believe it or not. My wife reviles the flavour and texture of meat.
“I listen to my gut, not labcoats, when I choose what to eat”
Amen to that!! Love it.
The burger thing was pretty tongue-in-cheek, not meant to be offensive. Of course there are plenty of people who genuinely don’t enjoy meat. Nothing wrong with that! I am quite curious though — if she hates meat, does your wife also hate imitation (soy) meat?
Heather W. says
I am so ridiculously happy to read this! I have always felt guilty for not eating brown rice, preferring white rice for taste and ease or preparation. Woo Hoo! NO more closet rice for me!
Here’s what I know – White rice spikes my bg way way high, brown does not. I don’t have an answer for why, but…
the case is settled in my mind. Brown basmati for me.
Davette Brown says
I really enjoy brown rice (soaked with water and lemon juice, then cooked in broth), but I used to feel guilty about eating the white – mostly at Latin American food places where the red rice or arroz con pollo is made with white rice.
Then I read an article on how white rice contained the resistant starch and how that was beneficial, I stopped feeling guilty. And yes, I always have it with butter or the fat of the meat it was cooked with. :o)
I tried eating white rice when I wanted to add some “safe starches” as low carb paleo wasn’t working for me. But as far as my body is concerned, it is a refined carb junk food. I am back on wholegrains now and feeling way better. Thankfully I found out my joint pain and IBS symptoms are due to a connective tissue disorder, so I can relax and eat the diet my body likes best :). Which includes reducing my fat intake, which I had upped whilst trying to make low carb work. pretty hilarious really, as I now find myself eating what verges on a conventional health foods diet, after years of rubbishing that advice! Well, probably higher in protein and fat than the mainstream guidelines. Need that protein to help keep the blood sugar steady.
Amy G. says
Hmm. Interesting post. I much prefer the taste and texture of brown rice over white, but now I mostly eat black rice, AKA “Emperor’s” or “forbidden” rice. It has anthocyanins like in blueberries, (it turns everything purple.) Hopefully this kind of rice is problem free! It’s sure good!
If you enjoy it, by all means, stick with that! Purple-coloring black rice sounds a little scary to me, but if it works for you, great! 🙂
Amy G. says
Hi Emily –
Thanks for the reply! I want to read all of your posts, but when I click on the “older posts” link at the bottom of your home page, nothing happens. It doesn’t go to them. Can you check that out? It could just be a problem with my set up.
Thank you!! Best news all day! We lovvvve white rice and force down brown ride! Hooray for white rice!
Haha! Hooray, indeed! Thanks for your comment, Meghan! 🙂
Hey Emily! Love your blog. After reading the comments on this article it’s clear that everyone’s body processes things differently, obviously. Got me thinking…what’s your take on the blood type diet? Because I’m O+ and the results were pretty spot on with how my body reacts to certain foods. It was interesting. I know it kind of trails off this topic but I’d love to hear your opinion either here or in another blog post someday. Thanks! -Sam
Hi, Sam! Great idea for a post. I’ll go ahead and sum up my thoughts on the “Eat Right for Your Type” thing here — it’s crap. Nothing but a bunch of make-believe pseudo science. It would be great if there were such an easy, definitive and scientific way to determine what the right diet is for each person from a biological standpoint, but there isn’t. I have lots more to say on this so I will definitely put a post together! Thanks.
Did you ever put a post together for the eat right for your type? And where can I find it.
I haven’t yet. Sorry!
I eat my asian and indian food over bamboo shoots in place of any rice. If my body needs glucose it will simply make it from all the protien I am eating,…which will burn calories from fat in the process of conversion to glucogenisis.
I agree with you about fiber. Its not that neccisary. Fat’ll do it to it any day. Brown isn’t better if you are going to be eating rice.
Is all white rice created equal? Does it need to be organic or processed a certain way?
Denise @WholemadeGoodness says
Nice comprehensive post. And just to add another white rice is better bit for you … the recently reported studies of arsenic in rice have found that the levels of arsenic are higher in brown rice.
Thank you for your post. If I understand this right. White rice is simply brown rice that has been stripped of bran and germ, so why all the fuss from others who say white rice spikes their sugar, whats in brown rice that stops the sugar spike? I am diabetic and brown rice gives me a stomach ache, besides it takes so much longer to cook and I really just dont like it. I like white rice but have been staying away from all of it (white & brown), because of what everyone has said. But white rice doesnt spike my sugar any more than brown and I think I am going to just add it back into my meals!!! I think people should not be so critical of you and your posts, If we agree, we should say so, if not then don’t comment because it really is our own choice what we eat and that is all you are trying to say anyway. You are right, this is a blog and your ideas and no one should fault you for that. I love this site, it is listed on my blog in the side bar of all the blogs I like and I visit regularly. Thank you for being yourself and telling it like it is for you!!!! Have a great day.
What are your thoughts on all this recent news about arsenic in rice? Do you think it is a valid concern and if so, is there any way to avoid it? Maybe buying organic rice?
Thanks in advance!
Hi Karielyn! That is kind of a hot topic these days, huh? In short, I wouldn’t worry too much about it (especially if you eat white rice since the arsenic is concentrated in the bran) but I would recommend buying rice from trustworthy sources. I will answer more thoroughly in an upcoming episode of the Q&A series on YouTube. Thanks for your question!
Franky G says
Fun post! Having been in the “health” field for many years, I once shunned white rice and made brown rice my staple. Although I always enjoyed the taste and texture more in white rice then that of brown. Today I prefer and consume copious amounts of hand harvested wild rice from both Maine and Minnesota, a true paleo/traditional food. White rice is my second choice which I love cooked in homemade chicken stock. Thanks for breaking down dietary walls and not getting to tied up in what your “suppose” to eat. ~FG
I eat brown rice. I like the slightly nutty flavor. I don’t really like white rice- I think it’s bland. When I was younger, there was only one way I would eat white rice- covered in sugar. And I still kind of feel that way. Brown rice holds a nice flavor that is a great addition to a meal, whereas I generally only consume white rice in a pudding.
What about the phytic acid? Well, first off, rice is lower in phytic acid than most grains to begin with. Second, I SPROUT my brown rice. People sprout every seed under the planet, but rarely touch rice. Why? I have no idea. Apparently it gets moldy? I’ve never had this happen to me, and I think sprouted brown rice is absolutely delicious. It is also way more effective than merely soaking brown rice.
Sprouted rice is great! And again, if you enjoy that more than white, and digest it well, then you should definitely choose that. There are some companies that offer sprouted brown rice on my resources page. I have yet to try it, but I would certainly be willing to!
White rice, white bread and potatoes raise blood sugar as much as or more than sugar! Don’t get me wrong–I eat all of the above, with protein and fats. Whole-grain bread gives me near-immediate and severe digestive issues. I do like the taste of 2/3 white rice and 1/3 brown rice–I soak a big batch of brown rice overnight, which is supposed to make it much more digestible and much more nutritious (it does make the grains much more tender), then I cook it in fresh water and freeze it in small containers. When it’s rice time, I just add the cooked brown rice to the white rice.
Beef walker says
Great, fun and well written peice. Sadly ruined (well, almost) by the link to a page on the rankings of Matt Stone. The man has little understanding of insulin and carbs and rarely talks about ( or shows) real science. Stick with the folks who know science or ARE scientists like Robb Wolf.
Beef walker says
Oops… ‘Rantings’ not rankings 🙂
Ha! Oh dear. Well, thanks for the, uh, “almost ruined” compliment?
Ambika Choudhary Mahajan says
I just happened to stumble across this blog today, and am glad that I actually did!
I have never found brown rice very ‘palatable’ though I am not much of a rice lover. I dont like white rich very much too.
My kids, however, love rice and that aalways had me worried because I have been conditioned into believing that refined flours, sugar and white rice are really bad for us. They, I am sure, will heave a sigh of relief as I stop egging them on to move over to brown rice if they must have it at all.
John Clanderdonton says
probably the stupidest blog entry i’ve ever read in my life.
the refined white rice that we eat (which has nearly zero nutritional value) is not the same staple that most people in the world eat.
white rice is fine in moderation, but it is, by definition, an empty carb.
Oh, yeah. We make our carbs extra-empty here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. Sure, those people in “other” parts of the world eat white rice as a dietary staple just like they have for thousands of years, but OUR white rice is fat, lazy, and stupid. Moderation of empty stupidity is KEY.
John Clanderdonton says
You don’t know what you’re talking about regarding rice.
I am a butter believer, though. Take care.
I’m Asian so we eat white rice often. I love white rice and don’t like brown. I’m sick of the bad rep white rice gets just cuz brown rice is a TEENY bit more nutritional…thanks to all those “health freaks” out there lol. I hear it makes a difference to diabetics though but other than that, not much to worry about if eating white rice!!
I agree with your comments. People jump all over white rice, yet it’s eaten by billions around the world and who have done so for 6000+ years. Those societies are now only just developing USA-style diseases. I think the link is to processed super-refined foods that are readily available in convenient packages or on-demand at MKY-D, etc. However, portion size and frequency do matter–you must respect the 1st law of thermodynamics.
Speaking of don’t drink the haterade, Veggie Burgers are delicious and it’s bunk that they are “genetically-modified” any more than other food. Choose well, eat well.
I like the taste of brown rice and I like some of the vegetarian meat substitutes for red meat, even though I love red meat too. But I’d given up jasmine rice because I thought that brown rice was healthier and my mother convinced me that white rice was poison. If I can have my jasmine rice that will make me happy. But you linked to Matt Stone and he said in the free ebook that white rice should only be eaten once in a while and that brown rice was healthier. Which is right?
Matt’s advice, like most health researchers, is constantly evolving. His stance on more “processed” foods like white rice is drastically different now than it was a couple years ago when he wrote that. I can assure you he would take absolutely zero issues with your enjoying white jasmine rice as much much as you would like. 🙂
That’s a rather ignorant and mis-informed comparison of white and brown rice. It’s dangerous to mislead people like that. You’ve glazed over only the most basic benefits of white rice and even downplayed the downside of the full grain. The only evidence you offer is… you. Wow, a sample some of one!
Opinions are great, but make sure that people know its just your opinion. Someone with risk of type 2 diabetes, could read this post and think that white rice is fine for them, and worse, not be informed that they could lower their risk by eating brown rice.
I’m glad you enjoy white rice, but by virtue of having this blog, you have a responsibility to present fact-based findings. Otherwise, inform your readers that this blog is passed purely on your personal opinions and preferences.
My only responsibility is to write whatever the hell I want to write, David. It’s a blog. I do research and write things for a living. In case you haven’t noticed, nutritional science isn’t exactly a field that comes to a solid consensus about anything. For literally every single nutritional claim out there that is scientifically “proven” as “fact,” there is the exact opposite claim also “proven.” Providing a dissenting stance on anything regarding any aspect of nutrition isn’t difficult. But sometimes, thinking for yourself is.
Thanks so much for your “opinion.” Have fun eating your crappy-tasting rice. I’ll be enjoying my impending diabetes.
Jennifer @ 20 something allergies and counting...down says
I’m concerned about your comment about brown rice lowering the risk of getting type 2 diabetes. This is an entirely unfounded statement and just as detrimental as what you are claiming from the author of the article. I have both personal experience with my husband and as a training holistic practitioner.
If you are regurgitating governmental and registered dietician advice, please be aware that they are sponsored by such organizations as Coca-cola and Hershey’s and proudly state so on their website http://www.eatright.org/corporatesponsors/.
For those at risk of and battling insulin resistance, proper nutritional therapy includes nutrient supplementation, digestive support, a diet that restricts grain-based and starchy foods, and instead focuses on nutrient-dense foods with an emphasis on fat-soluble vitamins from wild or pastured animal products.
That is only a very basic recommendation and much of the therapy will be based on how the person responds to nutritional support based on their bioindividuality.
Please don’t condemn somebody so severely for statements that you feel are in error while doing the same yourself.
THANK you! It’s about time the truth came out. I have two good sources which caused me to think about rice differently.
1. A friend came to visit from the Philippines. His father was a rice farmer and he had never before seen brown rice which he found in my kitchen. He asked me if he could take some home with him.
2. At a health foods convention in Anaheim, California about 6 years ago, there was a booth for a small US company that was selling their Brown Rice crop. They plainly told me that brown rice is a specifically different type of rice and not the unmilled or unhusked version of white rice. They said that white rice is a different type of rice.
But everyone today is telling me the opposite, saying that brown rice is milled and that’s how you get white rice.
I don’t believe it anymore.
I’d like to second this comment! I am currently living in the Philippine Islands. No one here has ever heard of brown rice. My husband has befriended rice farmers who have never seen brown rice. He tried to explain that the brown rice is simply unmilled white rice. They strongly disagreed. The traditional Filipino rice must be milled and polished to be fit for eating. If we want to buy brown rice, we go to the American import store and buy California brown rice.
After reading this article (and visiting with my Filipino friends), we have switched to white rice. It just makes more sense for us to buy locally grown white rice.
I like both the nutty flavor and firmer texture of brown rice and the softer texture of white rice. Which I’d prefer at any time depends a lot on what I’m eating it with.
I switched to mostly brown a while back when that seemed to be the thing to do, but more information about phytic acid and resistant starch has me open to white again. So I keep both in the house.
Since I’ve been eating on the lower carb end of the spectrum for a while, I don’t eat a lot of rice anyway, to the point where I haven’t even worried about the phytic acid when I make brown. (I don’t much grain at all or other major sources of phytates.) I often mix brown rice and wild rice together.
Stephan Guyenet offers this method for reducing the phytic acid content by up to 90% though, which could be good for frequent brown rice eaters: http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2009/04/new-way-to-soak-brown-rice.html
By the way, the recipe for brown rice in NT with the cardamom is DELICIOUS. You toast the rice and cardamom seeds a bit in butter and olive oil and then add stock and cook. Add sea salt. Just so yummy!
Brown jasmine or white jasmine varieties are my favorites. But wild rice is my favorite by far. I understand it isn’t really rice. Anyone know of good info on wild rice? (Nutrients, is there phytic acid, etc.)
Brown Rice Daddy says
So, where’s your PHD on all this ‘research’. Where’s your citations? Where’s your credible proof? You’re just a hack with a blog.
“Where’s your PHD on all this research.” Btw, forget the ???
This is a blog, not a scientific or medical journal. A blog should not be expected to serve the same purpose of either of the aforementioned, and you certainly shouldn’t be looking to it for the same standard of information, no insult to Butter Believer. She does a fantastic job in sharing info and putting well thought out information out there.
Butter Believer believes in informing people, but she doesn’t expect people to take her word only and not do their own research.
That being said, do what you ARE capable of and Google for information from reputable sources if you need any sort of validation on things. It’s not that hard to find peer-reviewed journals using a search engine, and it is pure ignorance to expect a blog to present itself like a research paper. Ideas have been put out to you. Do your own research on what you think about it. Don’t expect others to do it for you.
Again, I’m not saying that Butter Believer hasn’t done her own research. I believe she has. But she’s not your own personal works cited page.
Brown Rice Daddy: That was pretty harsh! Since when do you need a PhD to know about nutrition??? And btw…if you dont like the blog or trust the info then why are you even wasting your time reading it???
I tried eating brown rice for awhile because I kept reading that it was the healhier choice but I never really liked the taste of it. I switched back to eating jasmine and basmati rice and I feel like I’m in better shape now then when I was trying to convince myself that brown rice was the better choice.
I did some research into the claims about brown rice being the better choice and I came to the same conclusion you did. I wrote a post that includes some of the research surrounding the debate. http://www.somastruct.com/white-rice-vs-brown-rice-which-is-healthier/
What I find most interesting is this whole argument that brown rice has a lower glycemic index than white, when really it depends on the variety of rice. Some types of white rice actually have lower GI values than brown.
Wholesome Gal says
this is an “against-the-grain” (haha no pun intended!) article! Raises some good points I must agree. I myself do prefer white long grain rice. So yummy:)
I’ll start off by saying that you’re completely wrong about fiber.
While too much of it indeed isn’t great, too much of anything isn’t great. It’s extremely important to get the right amount of fiber in your diet. Also, Your idea of the general population’s fiber consumption is way off, because most people DON’T get enough fiber in their diet, and that’s according to EVERY SINGLE study about fiber consumption, EVER.
Side note: I’ve been constipated for years until I realized I was missing fiber in my diet, and since then, it hasn’t been an issue.
Now, let me touch up on your “slight” bias. Like you said, you love white rice, and I believe that you have done your research on the subject. But I also believe you chose to cling to the studies that were in favor of white rice and COMPLETELY ignored and brushed off the well-known and well-established health benefits of brown rice. Did you know that a recent study done on more than 150,000 individuals (!) shows that substituting white rice with brown rice can reduce your chance of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 17%?
I’m not saying white rice is bad. Actually, in moderation, it’s fairly healthy, and in my opinion tastes better than brown rice. But there is no reason to lie to yourself. If you like it, eat it. Key word: moderation. Oh, I’m sorry, you’re not lying to yourself you say? well, let’s recap a little…
“soak the rice, as you would traditionally prepare other whole grains, and the phytic acid will be neutralized?
Not according to one of the biggest phytic acid haters of all time..”
WOW! WHAT A SURPRISE! A hater of phytic acid has something to say about it?? look at that, A WHOLE ONE PERSON SAYS SOAKING DOES NOTHING! Surely, that’s proof. Seriously though, you also failed to inform your readers that phytic acid has therapeutic benefits, and in addition, antinutrients are known to play an important role in the human body. Quoting from Wikipedia: “The possibility now exists to eliminate antinutrients entirely using genetic engineering; but, since these compounds may also have beneficial effects, such genetic modifications could make the foods more nutritious but not improve people’s health.”
And your whole shebang about how vegan and raw diets are just a sham have absolutely no basis. Want a simple rule? here’s a simple rule. Think about what we, as humans, can eat naturally, raw, uncooked: Fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, some fish etc.. We as humans were not meant to consume meat and dairy. We have to prepare them by skinning, milking, cooking and filtering those products before they become safe to consume. Also, do you know why spicy food is spicy? because it was meant for BIRDS and it’s a warning sign for all other mammals to not consume it. Nature is smart, and if you choose to just freaking listen, you can be healthy and virtually immune to heart disease and strokes. But don’t just take my word for it, do your own research about the subject, and stop telling people to go against the natural way of food.
If you want, just go ahead and convince yourself that what you’re saying is true, but don’t go dragging the uneducated (on the subject) with you.
Ohh, I see. I should have known sooner from your erratic and desperate tone that you were on a vegan crusade here. No sense responding to any of your rambling. I’ve got a nice plate of bacon and eggs calling me. Oh, and a side of white rice.
Actually I’m not a vegan at all. I love meat and butter and white rice. But I pursue facts and hate misinformation, especially pseudo-science.
Yet you believe this?
“We as humans were not meant to consume meat and dairy.”
Sounds like you’re a pretty logical guy.
I do believe that. It is my personal opinion, and it surely makes logical sense to me.
The fact that you think bacon and cheese are healthy or a necessary part of the human diet is just hilarious to me, though. Maybe I’m missing something that you may know and I don’t.
Whatever, to each his own.
Sara Bradford says
Raw vegetables, nuts, some fruits are very difficult for MANY people to digest. I live in Canada and would FREEZE if I had to live on these “natural to us” foods. Claiming that we aren’t meant to eat foods if require cooking, skinning etc. is a bunch of bologna. Just sayin’!!
How about next time you post some scientific peer-reviewed articles to back your claims? How can you say “Fiber. Check. Don’t need it.” Sure, SOME people may intake an excess amount of fiber, and I don’t know myself if that is a cause of colon cancer (nowadays what isn’t a cause of cancer?) but not getting enough fiber is definitely a precursor to colon cancer. Prove these points you are attempting to make with some evidence backed by science and tests.
How about next time you actually read the post and look at the sources I’ve already provided, and maybe have the balls to use your actual name when you leave a comment?
How about you also “prove” your “points” with “scientific peer-reviewed articles to back your claims?” Oh, wait… what’s that you say? There’s something called “Google” and I could research these things myself if I felt so inclined? And, and you’re actually not the author of a medical journal, but just some person on the internet making a statement on a blog? Ah! Wonderful. Glad we’ve got that all cleared up.
Yeah of course. Google gives you tons of information, including from hack like yourselves who THINK that things are your way when science shows it’s otherwise. I’m not going to show you the MANY studies out there but I’m assuming if you’ve been “researching” I suggest you research thru scientific articles at pubmed.
Oh, yes. Pubmed! Where anyone who can read through a few sentences of an abstract can become an authority on any scientific subject. I’ll be sure to do that!
Your blog is quite entertaining and I’m almost laughing at each of your joke. Are you a high school graduate? Polyunsaturated fat is bad? It reduces risks of cardiovascular disease and cognitive aging. Fiber is bad? Fiber helps with both constipation and diarrhea. Starch is good? Yeah, when you are hungry! But excess starch, which is eventually broken down to glucose, is what makes you fat. I appreciate your IDEALS but u shouldn’t SPREAD out nonsense as eventually YOU will KILL people from this hack, you damn hipsters.
My day is never complete until I get at least one person assuring me that I’m a murderer. Thanks!
I’m going to present you and your website in my class presentation for my psych class on quackery. Congrats in making the list!
Congrats on being enrolled in some sort of formal education! Sounds like you could really use it, given your demonstrated inability to produce a coherent sentence. Have fun at show & tell.
eric park says
Lol is this the way you justify your love for white rice?
For Diabetics, brown rice is still better than white.
This article may mislead diabetics into switching their diet to white rice.
Brown and white both contain the same amount of starch, so why not just eat the white with some extra vegetables and fat? Both will help stabilize blood sugar.
In your opinion what is wrong with polyunsaturated fats? These are omega 3’s and 6’s..
HATE HATE HATE BROWN RICE.
LOVE LOVE LOVE WHITE RICE.
ONCE AGAIN THANK YOU FOR THIS AWESOME POST!!!
Another weird thing which happens to me when I eat brown rice is I get hungrier faster, doesn’t happen when I eat Basmati white rice, at least satiated when I’m eating white rice, with brown rice its like eating ‘paper’ or something lol..
GO BUTTER BELIEVER, !!
Hope I get a reply !!
mary a. rowe says
I had to eliminate white rice because I would overconsume it and my blood glucose would go wonky. If I could limit myself to 1/4 cup at a time with meals I’d be okay, but white rice, along with pasta is a no-go.
I absolutely LOVE your blog! It makes my day to read your common sense take on eating. I have been beating myself up for two years. Thanks for having the guts to say what a lot of us feel.
I love white rice too! I lived in Japan for a year and travelled throughout much of Asia in my 20s where I ate white rice with every meal. Back in the states I was shocked to see everyone talking about the health benefits of brown rice because I could never get over my dislike of it.
Most of Asia eats a diet filled with white rice and the people do not suffer anywhere near the US’ levels of chronic illness. While brown rice may lower your chances of developing type 2 diabetes, just changing what kind of rice you eat is not going to make or break your situation. Healthy ideas about eating and eating real foods are far more valuable solutions.
I LOVE white rice, but my husband brought home a big bag of organic brown rice and I had to use it. So in researching the best way to prepare it, I found this: http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2009/04/new-way-to-soak-brown-rice.html The author, Stephan Guyanet, provides research that shows soaking alone doesn’t put a dent in the phytic acide in brown rice. However, following his advice will supposedly eliminate 96% of it. So, I’m still not running out to buy brown rice all the time (though it is tasty in some cold bean salads), but I feel good about preparing it in this way when I have some in my pantry.
Great article I love your no b.s. point of view!
That was a fantastic article! I learned quite a bit. Yes, I do eat white rice and I’ll admit it, I do it for the taste. About the only time I have rice is with Chinese food and for some reason I don’t like the idea of sesame chicken over brown rice. I’m not afraid of real food though, either. Give me a pat of butter and real maple syrup on my pancakes. Yum!
Do you buy into the Fiber Menace stuff? I’ve read it and I’m kind of with what Konstantin is saying but its really left field.
It’s true that Asians nowadays eat white rice, but a long time ago they ate more of the brown stuff. The rich nobles would feast on white rice, just like rich Western nobles would feast on white bread. The 99% ate more fibrous grains, not because of health reasons, but because they couldn’t afford refined carbs (or didn’t have the time to refine those carbs).
These days I’m actually eating a special brand of white rice that’s been processed to retain some of the nutrients of brown rice. I have no idea if it works like it’s supposed to, but it’s yummy, and my mom pushed it onto me so I have to appease her.
Some Asians love adding things (like beans) to their rice. Beans, barley, a whole bunch of other grains. These days I’m adding quinoa, which is technically not a grain but it tastes and looks like one.
Anyway rice is just one teeny tiny aspect of any person’s overall health. I don’t see why people are getting so worked up over it.
This was a cute essay, but for me, it’s balderdash. If white rice is so fricking good for you, then explain why I’ve lost more than 20 pounds by eliminating it from my diet entirely – and why when I stopped eating white rice, my night sweats went away. I am not menopausal. I’m young.
I dumped white rice for more than three months. Then, I had about two ounces of it with a meal. The night sweats returned with a vengeance that night.
Get rid of the rice again? GONE.
White rice is lighter, fluffier, sweeter and tastier, but you’re printing propaganda here. Brown rice simply is healthier, and no rice is healthiest of all. Google the Asian paradox. Otherwise, fine and very entertaining article. Peace.
Rice isn’t the problem. You are.
If you can’t digest a simple carbohydrate like white rice, you have serious metabolic issues.
And you might want to do some Googling, yourself. I’d suggest starting with the definition of “propaganda.” Glad I could entertain you!
I am so glad I found this post, I have been suffering with gas and bloating for years. I wake up with a flat tummy and by dinner I look 5 months pregnant. I normally eat lots of brown rice (trying to be healthy). I have switched to white this past week and feel better already!! Do you recommend soaking white rice in water and an acid like lemon before cooking?
About the people you mention that eat a lot of rice. They are not over weight because they don’t eat any of the other prepared food americans eat. I would guess their life expencey is not very long either
Thanks for this great post! My family and I eat white rice but we get it the medium grain variety from an Asian grocery store. However, I’ve just read that there seems to be GM rice?! Rice with human genes engineered in it?! Please someone help me! Is it better to switch to organic rice ASAP?! We’ve been eating this rice for quite it while now and I’m freaked out!
Chi Chi says
You mean, I can come out of hiding and proudly proclaim my love for white rice? Oh Basmati rice sauteed with butter, onions, garlic, thyme, and sea salt then simmered in a bath of homemade bone broth…how I love you!
Thanks to you and Holistic Squid for breaking this white rice v. brown rice debate down.
I can’t agree with you on this. I definitely like white rice better (such as white basmati), but you are not taking into consideration the fact that polishing the bran off of the rice only started 150 years ago. The traditional cultures removed the hull but not the bran. While I’m so glad that the removal of bran is not a chemical process, the bran on the rice has the Vitamin B and thiamine. After the brans removal, people were suffering from beriberi due to the lack of the of these components. Both probably have merit, but white rice has natural vitamins. Here’s an article with extra info: http://www.yesmagazine.org/blogs/john-cavanagh-and-robin-broad/the-story-of-refined-white-rice
While you raise good points, and certainly do have an attractive passion, you too quickly dismissed the diabetes connection.
A Harvard study found that white rice increases the risk of diabetes, while brown rice decreases it.
Your assertions about phytic acid are interesting, warranting some due diligence. I do plan to learn more about it. It does seem to put a negative on brown rice. However, it doesn’t sound as bad as the diabetes connection white rice has.
If taste matters, I find the brown rice tastes better. I made the best fried rice I ever tasted with it last night, causing me to fall in love with it and question why I ate white rice all these years. That’s what brought me here.
White rice makes me (and every Korean I know) very sleepy. Presumably from the insulin spike then crash. When I eat brown rice, I don’t get sleepy. I just feel very satisfied. I soak my brown rice (and use some of that soaking water with my next batch) for 8-48 hours before cooking.
I’m not saying my way is the only way or the best way. It’s what works best for me. I eat plenty of fruits and veg here in Korea. I teach, so I get a school lunch which means soup, veggie sides, kimchi, a small side of meat, and white rice usually mixed sparingly with another grain. My biggest problem with white rice is that it’s devoid of all nutrients. It’s only a carbohydrate and I get plenty from fruits and potatoes.
I completely agree with you about the fiber thing! I am a pescetarian so I eat mostly grains, vegetables, and fruits so I really don’t need much fiber. when eating processed foods, I have to stay away from anything with more than 3 grams of fiber. I see people eating those fiber one products and think “How can you eat that and not get sick?!” When I tell them my body won’t let me digest that without processing it too quickly they look at me like I’m the crazy one. I came across your post because I’m trying to cut back on sugar for health reasons, but I love jasmine and basmati rice. Interesting to read your take on it.
Katrina Abenojar says
Hi can you cite your sources? http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=416025 This says white rice increases your chances of diabetes. Contradicts this post saying white rice is healthier 🙁 PLEASE GET BACK TO THIS. I really want to eat whatever is healthier and hopefully yummier. Ahem white rice. So I want to know your sources please and how reliable any of this stuff is and what makes you say any of it. Thank you!
I couldn’t read through your article because of the so much tone of ‘hate’ it is exuding over brown rice. 🙂 Is it not possible for you to praise white rice without hating on the fact that brown rice works for other people? But I guess you are right over the doctors, nutritionists etc who doesn’t share your opinion. I eat a mix white and brown rice as it is what they serve at home for the benefit of my diabetic dad as prescribed by his doctor. “Stop the hate.” I think you should start with yourself. 🙂 I love white and brown rice equally. But your article is biased you couldn’t discuss the benefits of white rice without downright making it sound like those who prefer otherwise are uneducated people just joining a wheat-loving bandwagon.
Akshay Bagga says
n I trust the internet not you.. Wikipedia says brown much more better. ..
I ate white I felt bloated n went empty on stomache real soon.. but brown keeps me healthy n full with all b vitamins mag phosphorus n loads others. ..
you suck guys…
Omg. THANK YOU for the absolute funniest comment I have ever gotten, out of some 25,000 comments, ever.
While I agree with you on that “Brown rice is brown because it’s got the bran on it. White rice is just rice with the bran and germ removed”, I believe that brown rice is healthier and more beneficial. The bran component has many antioxidants, B vitamins and fiber. the germ component has many B vitamins, minerals, and protein. More information can be found at: http://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/what-is-a-whole-grain .Brown rice also reduces the risk of getting diabetes. The fiber content helps reduce cholesterol and helps with digestion. And more information can be found at: http://diabetes.webmd.com/news/20100614/brown-rice-vs-white-rice-which-is-better
Lloyd of Oz says
Yeah, brown rice seems very hard for me to digest, white rice helps me a lot to live with IBS symptoms daily (irritable bowel syndrome).
Issues not mentioned…
POINT FOR:, brown rice has varying amounts of Arsenic (and/or cyanide?) doesn’t it, so 2 to 3 servings p/week max is recommended, not an issue with white rice.
POINT AGAINST: I read that White rice may be much worse than brown rice for tooth decay. Something about leaving a sticky residue that bacteria flourish in. Is this wrong, I hope so.
Hello! I was wondering if you could tell me about white vs. wild rice? Assuming the rice is in fact wild rice and not the weird blend of not-rice you get for a dollar in the microwave bag.
Sara Bradford says
Ahhhhh…another post that reads like a breathe of fresh air. I just love it. I admit I sometimes fail to blog about or post an articles citing facts on why we should eat meat, (or white rice – ha), etc. Because I get SO TIRED of responding to those who use it as a platform for their misinformed vegan rants or the like.
Brown rice. White rice. I’ve used them BOTH and also removed them from clients diets depending specifically on THEIR bodies needs. But not after letting them ultimately decide for themselves how it makes them feel.
Brown rice makes me feel “stable” but is difficult to digest. White rice is so awesomely easy to digest after, say, a stomach flu. I’ve used both for different reasons. But simply saying white rice is evil is silly. And their preparation is KEY KEY KEY. Eating white rice with lovely fats and some protein is key. Proper preparation and sprouting for brown rice is key. I can’t understand why there are so many Butter Believer haters from this subject. Can people not see this is important information? That food and nutrition is NEVER so simple.
It’s the food nazi craziness that has forced me into retirement. (Lol – i’m only 37.) It’s so clear to me that true health comes from being informed, being open-minded and not being psycho about food choices. True health comes from a place of self-worth, balance, sunshine, getting your ass off the couch (even for a walk), laughter, not extreme food protocols that mess you up brutally in the end. And it’s certainly not caused by a bit of white rice.
If folks just TUNED into what was going on in their bodies they would KNOW what was right for THEM. Everyone wants an answer from someone else. Some new study. That puts the pressure on you. And me. But the only person who can tell us what we should eat is ourselves. Sometimes brown rice makes me feel good. Sometimes it makes me constipated or gives me a tummy ache. Sometimes white rice makes me feel good – especially after an tummy illness – it’s so easy to digest. Sometimes it makes me feel jittery – especially if I don’t eat it with fat or protein. And due to the fact that so many don’t digest gluten… rice is a staple (probably too much) for so many people. I don’t eat gluten (it gives me scary, auto-immune stuff unless I avoid it) but I also don’t eat a ton of rice. Moderation is not only better for health in general, it’s much more delicious in the end. Variety is the spice of life?
And another thing – though brown rice is filled with nutrients, they are of little value if you can’t digest it – or absorb it. It’s not what you eat – it’s what you absorb.
Thank you for being you. I really enjoy your courage and you are frickin’ hilarious to read. Cheers!
YOU CAN eliminate phytic acid from brown rice if you know how which is easy to find out. Some people claim phytic acid has prefered minerals etc to cling to and will remove heavier more toxic minerals as opposed to lighter ones such as calcium. Also your info is outdated. In Japan rice bran is heated to kill the enzyme which makes it go rancid and it’s cheap to buy. Go to nutrition data website and check the content of rice bran crude. It’s easily the most nutrient dense food in the world or one of. Yes I’ve read Rami nigels book as well as the Weston Price books he learned from. I actually mix rice bran into yogurt and eat it as a nutrient dense superfood. By the way I quit all rice, white potatoes, oat meal etc a while ago as they are gluey mucous forming acidic foods and the Arnold ehret books suggest a mucous free diet is optimal for health and digestion and detoxification. Hope my info leads you to areas of research to enlighten and update your awareness. cheers.
I liked most of the article but to say the only reason someone may be constipated is due to metabolism is very narrow minded. There are several reasons this can happen and one if them is a subluxation of the spine. If the vertebrae is compressed on the nerves to the bowels and digestive areas, this will also cause constipation. A visit to the chiropractor can fix that and has been for my daughter. .
Hi, thanks for opening my eyes to some foods i consume. How can I tell when brown rice is rancid? It looks and smells good to me.
Good question. My guess is that you can’t, really. The amount of oil in a grain of rice is pretty small. I wouldn’t really stress about it if you already have a bunch of brown rice (and you enjoy eating it), but maybe for future purchases just avoid the bulk bins and you could even refrigerate or freeze what you buy if you’re concerned about it. Or you could, you know, just buy white rice instead. 😉
Laura R says
I would be interested to hear your thoughts on converted rice. My daughter has type 1 diabetes and white rice is expressly forbidden, unless it is converted/parboiled or whole grain. We simply do not eat it much right now, but I have done some limited research online and don’t know if I can really rely on what I am finding. We are all fans of yours and hope you can shed some light on this!
Just wanted to shed some light on some specifics.
The unsaturated fats that you mentioned (ie polyunsaturated fats) are the fats that are ACTUALLY GOOD for you. The bad ones are the saturated fats (for they stay longer inside your body–very hard to break). I am Asian and I love love white rice. Not saying that white rice is the more “evil” food between he two but I do know that they are essentially a bit more benefits in eating foods on their most natural state. Brown MAY win only for a little bit but even a little bit healthier diet is still better.
Just my opinion 😀
I know that is what the mainstream nutrition field will tell you, but the nutritional scientific community as a whole is far from having reached a consensus on the issue regarding polyunsaturated fats.
Please read this post: http://butterbeliever.com/what-is-pufa/
I love you so much for this! I heart white rice but always thought it was so bad for me! Now I’m off to have some rice with butter….
Good article, I eat a lot of brown rice, but I think it’s best to have balance, eat brown rice, basmati, white, egg fried, whatever. Just keep it healthy.
Have you heard of boulgur wheat? It’s great.
Love this article! I ate brown rice for the first time in years, feeling guilty from all that I’ve read about white rice being so horrible for us. Maybe now I won’t take it from my diet because I love white rice.
Can’t you rinse OFF a lot of the starch anyay, btw???
Mike Rolniak says
Here’s my opinion: If you are on the typical SAD diet brown rice may be best for you, as you could use the extra nutrition and fiber. However, if you generally eat a nutrient dense whole foods diet, white rice is perfectly fine. Makes a great vehicle for vegetables, meats, and of course BUTTER!!!
I’m originally from India, and I have been eating white rice all my life. And white rice is a staple for Indian meals. Eaten at least twice everyday in all parts of South-India. Almost everything main course is made of white rice, served with lentils, vegetables, and meat if you are a non-vegetarian. Its been this way for thousands of years in India. But the last 70 years are so, there has been a widespread diabetes epidemic taking over all parts of India. There could be several factors, but consuming large quantities of “polished” white rice seems to be a common factor. The polished white rice made it into Indian markets only in the last 100 years. before that, white rice was only husked, and the bran was kept intact. It might be this simple reason why it poses a health risk. The white rice we eat today is not the same the “billions” of asians ate even a 100 years back. You SIMPLY cannot IGNORE the diabetes epidemic in Asian countries anymore, however bitter that is. And white rice maybe one of the factors contributing to it.
Kent Hoskins says
I’ve been doing some recent studying on this. You say that polished rice was introduced 100 years ago but the diabetes issue has only surfaced in the last 70 years. So what about the other 30 years? What has been introduced and widely consumed in the 70 years? Could it be high fructose corn syrup for example?
I also would caution you, the author of this blog, to not carelessly throw out anybody’s suggestion of looking into the health benefits of brown rice. You may be young and healthy now, but remember, one day you will grow old, your metabolism slows down, and you might end up with diabetes. Then you might even consider switching to brown rice. Who knows. Every state of matter is impermanent. Physics says so.
Kent Hoskins says
What about the Arsenic in white rice? I’m not a fan of brown rice but the report I heard on the radio specifically said “all white rice is contaminated with Arsenic”. It was recommended that you rinse the white rice before cooking to “reduce the Arsenic level”. Your thoughts?
Almost all of the arsenic is concentrated in the bran, so with white rice, it’s not really a concern. But yes, from what I understand, rinsing the rice thoroughly is an appropriate method of reducing the arsenic.
I have read a lot on both sides of this argument and I am still undecided. A few years ago before I figured out I was a celiac and I was trying to eat healthier I did not really like the brown rice. Now after about 3 years of eating gluten free and over a year on the GAPS diet I prefer brown. My taste buds have changed a lot with other foods as well. Coming off of GAPS even a spoonful of white rice really bloated me. I was soooo uncomfortable after eating it not to mention it tasted so bland. Now I still really love my brown rice and soak it when I can. White rice still tastes bland to me but does not bloat me anymore. So I guess I am still on the fence.
And I wonder is the regular enriched rice bad for you…..? seems to me it has questionable ingredients. The other white rice available to me (basmati) costs 4 times as much. The regular brown is a lot cheaper. Really stinks when you have no health food store nearby.
Also, I think your attitude is hurting your case. Why all the anger? Sounds to me like you have been drinking some hateorade yourself. Maybe take the high road and don’t let these people get under your skin. Anger and negative attitude is just as bad for you as junk food.
Brown rice is gross! We eat black rice, soaked with an accelerated fermentation technique. It’s soaked in plain water plus a small amount of last batch’s soaking water for 24 hours. Once you get up to 3 fermented soaks, you’re removing 98% of the phytic acid, increasing digestibility, and unlocking nutrients. Then you cook it the usual way. The rice comes out tender, sweet and nutty, with much more stickiness than typical whole grain rice! Leftovers make a great breakfast porridge.
Still haven’t tried black rice, but that sounds good!
I actually like brown rice. I don’t notice a huge difference in taste between brown and white but I do have a mild preference for brown. That’s just me though.
If your article is indeed accurate then rice and wheat apparently go against nature because most plant nutrient sources are healthiest with their skin(shell) on.
Sounds like you have a bit of a chip on your shoulder about brown rice though. If you don’t want to eat it don’t. That doesn’t mean others can’t enjoy it. How tatsy is rice anyway? Unless it’s in rice pudding (not healthy) or topped with your favorite meats/veggies/sauces (healthiness may vary).
I have a question: If removing the bran from brown rice to make white rice (essentially just starch) is ok, then why is white flour off-limits? Isn’t that basically the same thing, i.e. removing the fiber and vitamins and leaving pure starch?
I eat white flour. 🙂
Let me state that I love brown rice and I think white rice is kind of tasteless and doesn’t have that nice nutty texture. I also LOVE wild rice (which is not really a rice but a grass.) And, by the way, please remember that a serving of rice is NOT an entire plateful or cup but more like 1/4 cup.
I was checking into the difference between brown and white rice (and wild rice). I did a comparison of basic nutritional components. Yes, brown rice has a bit more nutrients and yes, fiber is important and MOST PEOPLE do NOT get enough fiber because they don’t eat enough vegetables and other high-fiber foods.
However, I did not see ANYONE mention that brown rice has much more omega 6 than omega 3! White rice, however, while still having more omega 6 than omega 3 does not have quite the same disparity in ratio. I compared 100 grams of raw, medium-grain brown rice with the same amount of raw, medium grain white rice. Brown rice has a 3/6 ratio of 1:22 (WOW!), white rice has a 3/6 ratio of 1:5 and wild rice has a 3/6 ratio of 1:1.25. (Personally, it looks like wild rice is the best choice of the three-it even has more fiber than brown or white.)
It is my understanding that omega 6 fats are inflammatory and that omega 3 fats tend to counteract this.(1) I have read different recommended ratios ranging from a 3/6 ratio of 1:1(see #1 below) up to a 3/6 ratio of 1:4. (see #2 below)
However, it is interesting that Mr. Kresser indicates that “Omega-6 is pro-inflammatory, while omega-3 is neutral.”(1) This is not only the first time I have ever read this, other sources indicate that omega 3s are anti-inflammatory NOT neutral.(3)
So even though I like brown rice, it clearly has an omega 3/omega 6 ratio even more out of whack than the considerably skewed current Western diet of 1:16.(2)
NOTE: I put omega 3 before omega 6 due to the fact that it is usually listed in that order on nutritional labels. You may find the list/ratios stated in the reverse in some articles.
I try to take everything I hear and read with a grain of rice — oops, I meant salt. That being said, if you can eat white rice and feel good about it, then more power to you. But I suffer from some phobias regarding my health (the silver lining is that I’ve been eating much healthier than I used to for close to a year now), so I just can’t feel ‘safe’ eating polished white rice.
But anyway, according to the book Rice As Self, ‘Most scholars agree that it was some time during the Genroku and Kyoho periods, the end of the seventeenth century through the beginning of the eighteenth century, that the Japanese began using polished rice. Until then, they consumed unpolished brown rice (genmai).’
And I think this post from ask.metafilter.com says it best:
‘Rice was originally hulled/polished manually, which meant that it was only done roughly, leaving a lot of the bran still attached; however, in the middle of the Edo period, technology advanced to the point of using water power for this purpose and the resulting rice became more refined (and thus more appealing to the palate). At the beginning, as you suggest, this higher-quality rice was at first limited to mostly the urban upper-class due to its high price, but as polishing technique improved into the Meiji period, eating white rice became more commonplace. An unfortunate result of this refined rice was the spread of vitamin B1 deficiency, known as Beriberi disease or Edo-wazurai. People [therefore] started mixing in other things (e.g. barley) with their rice to make up for the lost vitamins and try to fend off the disease.’
The other difference is that the Asian cultures which eat polished white rice all the time don’t eat it alongside mountains of other starchy and polished/processed foods like most Americans do. They eat their rice with dried or raw fish, pickled vegetables, meats, eggs, beans, broth, etc. They also use high quantities of herbs and spices in their meals.
Still, people believe what they want to believe. Those who are looking for a pat on the back and a stamp of approval to go ahead and eat polished white rice will adore this blog, and those who fear it as nothing but starch and glucose will nay-say it.
As for me, I’ll stick to brown rice for the moment. I’ll at least finish off the bag we have in the cabinet; waste not, want not. But maybe I’ll try wild rice once that bag depletes, and figure out how to soak it if necessary. Either way, your blog prompted me to do the research and decide for myself, so regardless of white vs. brown rice and that whole thing, you’re doing right by making people think!
thanks for this, i am an absolute rice lover (it seems good for me as I can tell my body likes it too) and i even started using rice milk, but i always baulked at changing to brown rice and am so glad you have made me feel happy about that. I am also hypothyroid (like yr mum) and have made a lot of dietary changes which are certainly helping, so i am now blogging about it, plus sharing more dietary info with people via all my social media.
Lara Briden says
I know this post is a couple of years old, but I just wanted to add my voice to the conversation. As a Naturopathic Doctor specialising in women’s health, I give a big thumbs up to white rice for many people. Rice is a satisfying, non-inflammatory starch.
The patients that come to me have been frightened off potatoes and rice with their meals. Problem is that they’re then so hungry that they binge later on date balls and agave desserts. This is particularly true for young women, and particularly true for those with HPA (adrenal) imbalance. Starch is calming. Starch promotes GABA and normal cortisol levels. I would argue that – for some women – starch is necessary to have healthy periods.
David Schwartz says
A ‘naturopathic doctor’ is not a doctor. Why do you insist on calling yourself this?
A 2-week distance learning course cannot make one fluent in the language of nutrition. Nutrition can only be taught as part of a wider accredited course.
I note that the USA appears to be full of quack ‘doctors’ who are successfully fooling people into believing/trusting their advice; advice that is without merit. This is a real shame.
The best (free!) advice anybody can give you is: listen to your own body and do not trust anybody else to tell you what you should or should not eat.
Alison Meehan says
I’ve never really eaten much white rice, even as a child, so I do prefer brown rice (I think?) unless it’s with Indian food. However, white rice is MUCH cheaper and faster to cook, so that gives it a good edge in my mind. I’ve been exploring the possibility lately that maybe white rice isn’t so unhealthy and I should give it a try. I stumbled across your article while trying to find the answer. How can it be so bad, as you say, with so many healthy, thin people and cultures where white rice is a huge part of their diets. It doesn’t make any sense.
What is the difference, then, between white rice and white flour? I understand that other grains have higher phytase we levels and, therefore, by soaking we can neutralize the phytic acid in them, but you mentioned in a comment that you’re not entirely sure that phytic acid is necessarily as detrimental to our health as the WAPF would suggest (I have read theories elsewhere that it is actually an important detoxifier). I assume the fiber part is the same in your opinion for both rice and other grains – we don’t necessarily need the extra fiber in the bran. So that leaves the rancid oils in the germ (unless there are some other differences that I’m missing). Do the oils in the germs of other grains remain stable during storage? Or, based on your arguments here for white rice, should we also consider consuming refined flour instead of the freshly-milled whole grains advocated by the WAPF?
Well, I just discovered your article about white flour. That answers my question mostly :). All I’m wondering now is whether the oils in the brand of grains other than rice go rancid as easily as they do in brown rice – before being ground into flour.
I don’t worry a whole lot about white vs. brown. I do a little of both. For curries definately white, the aroma of brown basmati or jasmine just does not rival white. If I do eat brown I soak like NT says and have not had digestive issues.
Thanks for the info about brown rice vs. white rice. Never thought about it before, thinking brown anything is better for you, who do we believe anymore?? I found it interesting about the bran being taken out and that we really don’t need it anyway.
Irama Borelly says
When I started to read the article, I was expected EXACTLY what I read. Once the bran is removed, the problem is solved: no more anti-nutrients. I am sure , white rice has to be one of the most inoffensive refined carbohydrates. The only thing we should be careful is what are we going to put in it, and how much we are going to eat. Even more than the ridicules 1/2 a cup recommended, will not be a big deal in your health and weight if you are taking care of other MORE important things. ( Like, no bad fats, not legumes, no sugar, and keeping yourself active). Again, I was so HAPPY, to read this article!~!!
Loved your article but not really a fan of your statement about people not liking veggie burgers over sirloin. You’re making an unfair generalization but I’m sure there are a lot of vegan/vegetarian people out there who wouldn’t pick the angus. Also, veggie burgers can also be made with real food and not textured vegetable protein. If you make your own burgers, black beans are usually one of the ingredients.