Monday, April 12, 2010

The rice debate - Is brown really best?

Rice isn't a staple in my diet. If I ever eat rice, it's maybe half a cup at most. But for many people, rice is a staple at a minimum of one meal a day. People automatically think brown rice is best. I've heard conflicting advice around brown vs. white and thought it was time to do a little research so I'm not talking shit. I hate getting caught with my pants down ;)

I've visited several websites with conflicting information as well. If we're just looking at nutrient value vs glycemic index, then brown rice seems to kick butt on white rice. Duh right? If I make rice at home, it's always brown. And I don't get complaints from any kids. I just don't say anything and they don't notice they're eating a whole grain.

"The loss of nutrients is broad and substantial. Plain white rice has far less Vitamin E, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folacin, Potassium, Magnesium, Iron and over dozen other nutrients. Added to that, the dietary fiber contained in white rice is around a quarter of brown rice. So, brown rice certainly appears to be more healthy, but where does the environmental benefit come from? It's basically down to processing - the less processing of a food, the less energy required. There's also the issue of the synthetic vitamins added back in - produced in laboratories and factories from a variety of chemicals; and these sorts of processes are well known for their negative impact on the environment." Taken from Green Living Tips

But the truth is that there are slightly fewer calories in white rice (223 per cup) vs. brown rice (232 per cup)

In terms of the glycemic index:
White long grain rice and brown rice are the same at 50- 55 depending on what source you go to.
Short grain white rice is around 72
Uncle Ben's converted rice is around 44
Basmati is around 58 and wild rice is 57

Some online sources swear that white rice is more likely to turn into fat vs. brown. There's so much debate all over the place about the best kind of rice and after a significant amount of time researching, this is what I think. (recognizing I'm NOT a nutritionist)

1) I don't eat enough rice for it to be an issue. If I eat rice I limit serving size to half a cup and don't got back for more.
2) Just because something might have more nutrients doesn't mean you can eat as much as you want. I know people who totally over eat brown rice because "it's good for you". Too much of anything isn't good for you.
3) I'm never going to buy instant rice or offer it to my child. So that's off the table.
4) If you fill half your plate with veggies, a quarter with protein and a quarter with a starch, then just chill a bit on the worries around GI and choose the more nutrient dense choice (brown)
5) If you're really worried about what you should eat for medical conditions, don't research on the internet like me and find an alternative health practitioner who you click with and put a plan together. The internet is saturated with conflicting information and the sources are questionable.
6) People always overeat brown rice at vegetarian or vegans restaurants when they order rice bowl dishes. Stop! Just because it's vegetarian or vegan doesn't mean you can eat as much as you want.

If anyone has found some great online sources about the brown vs. white debate, send it.

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