The reason white rice is better than brown for health and digestion as determined by analysis of the effects of these foods on the gut.
My video on making Healthy Chinese drew some comments from folks questioning my choice of rice. Why was I using white rice vs brown? Isn’t brown rice the healthier choice, after all?
Ok, I’ll spill the
beans, rice. Here are my reasons …
Truth is, neither my husband or myself have ever enjoyed brown rice (although we love the nutty flavor, easy digestibility and greater nutrition of wild rice).
Every time we eat brown, it just seems to not sit very well in our stomachs. Even when it is sprouted or soaked before cooking, it, well, uh, sits like a brick for lack of a better word.
Some People Are Better Off Eating White Rice
I’m never one to force-feed a food to myself that doesn’t intuitively seem to be something my body enjoys receiving – even if politically correct. So, for our entire married life (20+ years and counting!), I’ve always served white basmati rice in our home.
White rice just seemed to digest a whole lot better for us. That to me was reason enough to choose it over the brown rice. We were also advised by an Ayurvedic MD to stick with white basmati rice which clinched the decision for us.
You are what you digest, after all – not necessarily what you eat!
End of story? Well, not quite.
Fiber in Brown Rice Can Harm a Compromised Gut
You see, a few years back at the annual Weston A. Price Conference, I became familiar with a compelling book called Fiber Menace. The author, Konstantin Monastyrsky, was a speaker at the Conference that year, and his talk about the dangers of a high fiber diet was really buzzing around amongst the Conference attendees.
Now, Mr. Monastrysky’s point about the dangers of a high fiber diet was in relation to high fiber from grains, not fruits and veggies. In other words, folks who eat a bowl of All Bran every morning to keep the bathroom visits regular are unknowingly ripping their insides to shreds.
The basic premise of Fiber Menace is that grain fiber plays a leading role in many gut-related ailments including colon cancer.
When I first learned of this information, my preference for white rice over brown rice started to make more sense. Perhaps the brown rice didn’t digest that well because of all that fiber?
Chalk one up for the white rice.
White Rice Much Lower in Phytic Acid
A second piece of information that seemed to further validate my preference for white rice came in the Spring 2010 Issue of Wise Traditions magazine (p. 28-39).
Ramiel Nagel, of Cure Tooth Decay fame, wrote a thought-provoking article in that issue on the devastating effects of phytic acid in the diet. Phytic acid is a very powerful blocker of mineral absorption in the gut.
In this article, Mr. Nagel writes that brown rice is very high in phytic acid.
What’s more, soaking brown rice reduces this potent anti-nutrient by very little.
He also maintains that the traditional method for preparing brown rice is never to eat it whole (with only the husk removed), but rather to pound it in a mortar and pestle in order to remove the bran layer too – coincidentally, the primary source of the phytic acid.
Nagel goes on to point out that experiments have shown that milled rice, the rice that results from this pounding process, has the highest mineral absorption from rice.
Mineral absorption from whole brown rice is much less as the phytic acid from the bran greatly interferes with the absorption process.
What About Arsenic? Isn’t All Rice Unhealthy?
A big issue with arsenic contamination in rice has emerged in recent years. Some folks have responded by no longer eating rice at all. This is an overreaction, in my view, as clean rice is definitely available if you know what to look for. This article on how to avoid arsenic in rice details what to do.
Is White Rice Better Than Brown?
So it seems that brown rice is not necessarily a healthier choice than milled white rice. Obviously, whether you choose one or the other is a personal preference, but I hope this information helps you sort through the decision with a bit more clarity.
As for me and my family, we will be sticking with the white basmati rice (white basmati rice is more nutritious than plain white rice). Intuition told me many years ago that brown rice was not something that was sitting well in my stomach or my husband’s and it seems that as the years go by, more research is coming forth to indicate that this decision was the right way to go after all.
Do you eat white rice or brown rice in your home? Why or why not?