Having rice for weight loss is a controversial topic. Is it actually fattening and what’s the deal with white or brown rice? This blog gets to the bottom of this question.

Rice is a staple food for many countries and also among the most widely consumed grains in the world!

Rice varieties vary in the amount of starch, amylose and amylopectin, which affects its texture and digestibility.

Key Nutritional differences

The nutrient content of rice varies depending on the variety of rice, soil, water and the weather condition.

Processing difference

The germ and bran contains high level of minerals and vitamins, the removal of the germ and bran from brown rice produces white rice which lacks in these nutrients (Roy, 2008).

The amino acid profile of rice shows that glutamic and aspartic acids are the major amino acids, while lysine is the limiting amino acid (FAO, 2004). Mutual supplementation having legumes with rice which are high in lysine should be practised.

Rice is a good source of thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2) and niacin (vitamin B3). (Depa et al. (2008)

Table:100g White V/S Brown Rice - Comparison (source - NIN)

Nutritional content of different varieties



Protein (g)

Lipid (g)

Carbohydrate (g)



Rice , white, raw






Rice, brown






Why having brown rice in spite of better nutritional quality may still be unhealthy?


Brown rice is higher in fibre as it provides 1-3 gm more of fibre than a comparable amount of white rice, but due to presence of bran it has more of arsenic content. Arsenic is a heavy metal that accumulates over time and doesn’t get excreted. Arsenic may come from water, land and chemical fertilisers in which it grows.

Minerals in Rice

  • Manganese for energy production and antioxidant function.
  • Selenium is responsible for thyroid hormone & antioxidant production, immune function.
  • Magnesium - vital for blood coagulation, muscle contraction, cellular production and bone development.
  • Folate needed by body to produce DNA and other genetic material.

Brown rice is a whole grain containing phytic acid (anti-nutrient) that can hinder the absorption of certain nutrients like calcium, iron, zinc while lacks in phytase enzyme which breaks down phytic acid.

Although it has more minerals but it hampers the absorption of important nutrients. Hence, it is not better than white rice.

Processes like soaking, fermenting and sprouting help reduce the phytic content of these foods.

Should diabetics eat rice?

Rice has greater variability of the glycemic index depending on the type, cooking method, etc.

Only high-amylose varieties are potentially useful in low-GI diets (FAO, 2001). But, the amylose content is not a good predictor of starch-digestion rate or glycemic response (Panlasigui et al., 1991).

The difference in the starch digestion rate and glycemic index influences the insulin response. Other physicochemical properties, such as gelatinisation temperature, minimum cooking time, amylograph consistency and volume expansion upon cooking may also affect inulin. Additionally, rice varieties vary in glycemic index. For example, long grained basmati rice has a medium glycemic index compared to short gained rice varieties.

White rice - Resistant starch and glycemic effect

Resistant starch (RS) is basically a carbohydrate which resists digestion in the small intestine and acts as feed for healthy gut bacteria promoting their proliferation and improves gut health, remaining gets excreted as it is.

Cooling down of cooked starch known as starch retrogradation increases the resistant starch content. Sonia et al. 2015, conducted a study in which RS content was analysed, where freshly cooked white rice (control rice), cooked white rice cooled for 10 hours at room temperature (test rice I), and cooked white rice cooled for a day at 4°C then reheated (test rice II). The result of resistant starch content in control rice, test rice I and test rice II was 0.64 g/100 g, 1.30 g/100 g, and 1.65 g/100 g, respectively.

Hence, cooling of cooked white rice enhanced the resistant starch content. Also, cooked white rice cooled for 24 hours at 4°C then reheated lowered the glycemic response compared to freshly cooked white rice. Although, it is still controversial and further evidence-based studies are needed for a final conclusion.

In conclusion, there is not much of a difference in white and brown rice. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages.


  • Rohman, A., et al. (2013).Rice in health and nutrition.International Food Research Journal 21(1), 13-24
  • Chaudhari, P.R. et al. (2018).Rice nutritional and medicinal properties: A review article. Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry, 7(2), 150-156
  • Longvah, T., Ananthan, R.,  Bhaskar, K., & Venkaiah, K. (2017). Indian foo’ INDIA.Indian Council of Medical Research. 
  • Sonia, S., et al . (2015) Effect of cooling of cooked white rice on resistant starch content and glycemic response. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2015,24(4),620-5

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