If you ask anyone if brown rice is healthier than white, the resounding answer will most likely be yes. The truth is that it’s not actually quite so clear cut. White rice has been consumed by healthy cultures for centuries, yet it has become demonized in the West. Is it really all that bad? While it’s always a good idea to avoid refined foods such as white bread, white pasta, white potatoes etc, white rice may actually be better for you than brown and, when combined with fats and protein, white rice could be a better choice. Surprised?
Not Necessarily a Health Food
Brown rice is touted as a health food for being natural, unrefined, and higher in fiber and nutrients. What you don’t often hear about are the lectins and phytates it also contains. Lectins are present in plants as a defense system against pests and insects and phytates are found in their seeds. These lectins and phytates are “anti-nutrients” that reduce the bioavailability of these benefits that the brown rice yields. Additionally, there is an issue of arsenic in brown rice. Arsenic gets released into the environment through the use of pesticides and poultry fertilizer. Therefore, it is found in soil and water. Rice tends to absorb more arsenic than many other plants. According to Consumer Reports, brown rice has 80% more inorganic arsenic on average than white rice of the same type.
Sensitive Bowels? Switch to White
Anyone that suffers from sensitive digestion may do better with white rice rather than brown. While brown rice contains insoluble fiber that helps clean the colon by easing constipation, for some it can be irritating. The lectins and phytates which are present may also cause inflammation and contribute to leaky gut. Because we don’t digest lectins, our bodies often create antibodies towards them. Some people with a compromised immune system and weak gut function can find brown rice to be intolerable.
Consumed on its own, white rice is, for the most part, pretty nutrient void and can spike blood sugar levels. So if you want to indulge, eat your rice with chicken and a salad dressed with an olive oil vinaigrette which will help reduce the overall glycemic index of your meal.