Brown Rice vs White Rice: Which Is Healthier?

Brown Rice vs White Rice: Which Is Healthier?

Brown Rice vs White Rice. Is Brown Rice Really Healthier Than White Rice ?

White rice in commonly eaten in West Africa and is a major staple in our diets. So you might have been at crosswords with that age long debacle on the Brown Rice vs White Rice issue.

White rice is tasty, satisfying and easy to prepare. No West African party is complete without a dish of rice in a variety of flavours and colours. Jollof rice which is found all over West Africa, is without doubt the most popular dish amongst West Africans.

I grew up eating this rice and can’t imagine life without it. I mean, try it for yourself and you’ll understand what the hype is all about. There are even countless debates on brown rice vs white rice and also which country prepares the best jollof rice. Undoubtedly it’s Nigeria but we’re here to discuss which type of rice is healthiest. Let’s take a look at both.

Brown Rice

Brown rice is an unrefined whole grain which is produced by removing the surrounding hull of the rice kernel. It is chewier than white rice and has a nutty flavour. Whole grains are important part of any diet and have often been labelled the healthiest grains that anybody can eat.

Brown rice in particular:

  • is rich in antioxidants
  • helps stabilise blood sugar levels
  • is rich in fibre and selenium
  • promotes weight loss
  • helps to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol

It’s also an excellent source of magnesium, which works with calcium to build bones and teeth and to help the muscles contract.

For those trying to lose weight or those suffering from diabetes, brown rice can prove a healthful staple given its low glycaemic rating which helps reduce insulin spikes.

White Rice

When preparing dishes such as Jollof rice and fried rice, the preferred option for West Africans is white rice. Why? Because it’s easier to prepare and frankly it tastes better.

White rice has a higher GI value than brown rice. For those of you that are unsure what this means, the higher a food’s GI value, the faster it will be digested and the faster it will raise blood sugar levels. The lower a food’s GI value, the slower it will be digested and the slower it will raise blood sugar levels.

For this reason, avoiding high GI foods is often viewed as a great idea for those trying to lose fat and the brown rice vs white rice seems a bit clearer

Does The Glycaemic Index Actually Matter?

The GI system was introduced in 1981 and its purpose is to rate foods based on how much they raise blood-glucose levels. It was originally developed for diabetics, but the GI has bled into the mainstream.

What most people fail to realise is that the GI value of a food is determined when it’s eaten in isolation after a fast and could be a determining factor in the brown-rice-vs-white-rice debacle .

When was the last time you sat and ate a big bowl of plain white rice first thing is the morning with nothing else on your plate? Maybe you have a strange habit that no one else is familiar with…

With the exception of breakfast or after a period of fasting, most meals are eaten outside a fasted state. So the majority of the time you eat rice, you’ll probably be eating it with meat and plantain (and hopefully salad) and you’ll have already eaten other foods and meals at some point earlier in the day.

The combination of rice and other foods will therefore reduce the speed of digestion of all the foods being eaten from that point on. So the white rice you’re eating for dinner will actually digest slower because of the protein, fat and fibre from the other foods and therefore have less of an effect on your blood sugar.

The type of rice now becomes insignificant as it’s going to digest slowly either way.

So Is It OK To Eat White Rice?

Well let’s think of the “Asian Paradox”. How can Asian countries consume so much white rice and remain so thin? If carbs make you fat, how do they eat so many of them?

Many people demonise white rice but consumption of white rice is really only a problem if you overeat it, which usually happens when you slather it in salty, oily stew. You know…the way Jollof rice is prepared.

Sadly, it’s a fact that we are over-consumers of white rice and carbs in general in West Africa and coupled with a lack of physical activity, you can see why many of us are overweight.

So Which Rice Should You Eat?

Well in my honest opinion, you can eat both. Its not really about the brown rice vs white rice debacle, but the truth is that most people find brown rice inedible.

I’m certainly one of them so I eat a combination of brown and white because they both have their benefits.

There are a variety of white and brown rice you can eat so try to experiment with a few to find which ones you like.

Here are my top tips for adding rice to your diet if you’re on a weight loss diet:

  • Control your portion size – ideally rice serving should be no bigger than your palm
  • Exercise at least three times a week
  • Eat your main rice meals after a workout to refuel your tired muscles
  • Drink lots of water as carbs retain water which causes bloating
  • Reduce your salt intake and avoid using Maggi seasoning
  • Cook rice in healthy oils such as coconut oil
  • Try eating Ofada rice which is a type of brown rice

So the next time you eat white rice, you won’t feel so guilty as long as you follow my top tips. You can also read more about healthy grains and other African foods in my healthy food guide

Hope this settles the issue of Brown Rice vs White Rice


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