Rice is known to be the staple food for half of the world’s population and according to latest research studies, 73% of the average calorie intake of Sri Lankans is supplied by rice.

Modern day markets are full of different types of rice, some cultivated and processed within the country and some imported from various parts of the world. Thus, choosing the best and healthiest type of rice can be really difficult, especially when you are highly conscious about maintaining a nutrition-rich diet.

White and Brown rice-are the commonest colors of rice we see in the market. Some people think brown rice is the best choice, since the outer covering there contains hundred and one nutrients including ‘the famous Vitamin B’. On the other hand, some may go for white rice, since it apparently owns several healthy agents which is why Japanese people tend to have longer life spans, consuming white sticky rice for all three main meals.

However, the question here is, whether the color of rice really decide what it contains inside and how far it can make your body healthier?

What is the exact difference between white and Brown rice?

Whole grain rice, the initial most grain we gain from the harvest, contains many layers where brown rice is prepared by removing the outermost layer which is also known as the hull. The major reason for Brown rice to be identified as nutrition-rich is, this particular process of purifying (hulling) doesn’t result in any significant loss of nutrients. However, when Brown rice is further milled to yield white rice, other inner layers known as ‘bran’ and ‘germ’ will be removed, which will eventually destroy the nutritional part as well.

If this process continues until what is known as ‘polishing’, the layer called ‘Aleurone’ will get shed off, resulting in a brighter grain of rice which looks whiter, silkier and highly palatable. Most manufacturers prefer this method as a mode of preservation since it doubles the shelf life from 6-12 months which is economically beneficial.

According to latest information from USDA food nutrient data base, milling down of brown rice into white rice eliminates around 73% of Magnesium, 48% of Phosphorous, 45% of Manganese and 24% of Selenium, which is a broad and substantial waste of nutrients; soul-food to maintain a healthy body free of diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, obesity, high blood pressure, Diabetes, Malignancies etc.

To make the matters worse for you and better for profit holders, this process carried out until the rice becomes milled and polished will eliminate majority of essential fatty acids, Vitamin B, almost all the fiber and two-thirds of iron. In developed countries like United States, it is mandatory to get fully milled white rice, fortified with vitamin B and Iron before clearing them to the market, but in countries like ours, this doesn’t take place at all due to lack of awareness as well as financial restrictions.

According to a study done by University of Leicester, bran portion of the rice grain contains eight different phenolic substances such as Rotochatechuic acid, caffeic acid etc. which are known to have a chemo-protective and anti-tumor effect which will protect our body from various malignancies especially those in the breast and colon.

Health problems related to sugar are highly common these days, where you might be wondering if brown rice has a positive effect on controlling ailments like Diabetes Mellitus.

Of course it does! Studies have found that, brown rice contain 23.7% less sugar than that of milled white rice, confirming its benefits in managing patients with Diabetes or hyperglycemia.

The bottom crease

So, do you still think that it is necessary to think twice on choosing health-promoting Brown rice over White rice, on targeting a disease-free body?

However, as a take home message,

“It is your sole responsibility to be attentive in choosing the best available in the market, since there is a quite stigma about ‘dyeing’ white rice and modifying in to faulty brown rice, just to achieve financial gains”


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  • Hsu T, et al. Effects of Pre-germinated brown rice on blood glucose and lipid levels in free-living patients with impaired fasting glucose or type-2 diabetes. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol, 54: 163-168, 2008. University of Tokushima, Japan.
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