Brown Rice vs. White Rice – What Is The Difference?
The first thing to understand when discussing the differences between brown and white rice is that they are not actually two different types of rice. The terms brown rice and white rice relate to the processing or relative lack of processing the grains have undergone. Simply put, any rice, including long grain, short grain, or sticky rice, may be eaten as brown rice.
When only the husk of a grain of rice (the outer layer) is removed, brown rice is produced. In producing white rice, the layers underneath the husk, the bran layer and the germ are also removed. Several vitamins and minerals are lost in this and the subsequent polishing process. Part of these missing nutrients, are often added back to white rice making it “enriched”. Food suppliers in the US are required to do this by the FDA. Vitamins and minerals not added back into white rice include magnesium, potassium and Vitamin E. In addition to the vitamins and minerals lost, there is a substantial loss of dietary fiber. When the bran layer is removed, oil in the bran is also removed. This has both positive and negative benefits. Oil in the rice bran oil may help lower LDL cholesterol but it also shortens the length of time one can store brown rice before it turns rancid.
In much of Asia, brown rice has, in the past and to some extent still today, been associated with poverty and wartime shortages. This is because brown rice can easily be processed by the farmer himself whereas white rice must be taken to a miller and was thus more expensive. Ironically this traditionally maligned rice has now become more expensive than common white rice, due to its relatively low supply and difficulty of storage and transport.
Brown rice is clearly much better for you just as other whole grains are. It’s also much better for the environment too. You can find more information on that here . However, people have become accustomed to the taste of white rice and often find it more aesthetically pleasing in the rice dishes they prepare. Cooking rice also requires a bit more time with brown rice which often makes white a more convenient choice.
Brown rice grains have a mild nutty flavor, are chewier and, to my way of thinking, simply tastes better. Since it’s also far more nutritious than white rice it’s my preferred choice though I still use white rice for some dishes. Aside from the issue of taste, which is a personal preference, the only real advantages that white rice has over brown is that is more accepted by the culture, it takes slightly less time to prepare and it can be stored for longer periods of time. Brown rice can still be safely stored for up to 6 months and most people are not buying it in such quantities that they are unable to use it in that length of time.
So, if you haven’t tried it or it’s been a while since you have, I would encourage you to start trying to transition over to brown rice for at least some of your cooking. It’s much better for you, it’s better for the environment and it really does taste better.
If you’re interested in learning more about rice, check out Rice 101
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