Brown Rice

Brown rice is “unpolished” white rice. Brown rice retains unsaturated fatty acids, protein, mineralsvitamins, and starch that are usually removed during polishing. It is eaten as food and taken as medicine.

Brown rice is used for diarrhea, upset stomach and other stomach problems, fluid retention, intestinal worms, yellowed skin (jaundice), thiamine deficiency (beriberi), burns, nosebleed, fever, vomiting blood, swelling (inflammation), paralysishemorrhoids, and psoriasis and other skin ailments.

It is also used as an appetite stimulant, drying agent (astringent), soothing agent (demulcent), and tonic.

How does it work?

It is not known how brown rice might work for medical conditions. Developing research suggests brown rice might help prevent some of the heart-related complications of diabetes.

There is also some evidence that it might keep some kinds of cancer cells from multiplying.

Brown rice is a versatile, nutty-flavored whole grain that’s likely tucked away in your kitchen pantry. It’s easy to cook and makes a satisfying side dish to just about any protein or veggie. But how does it stack up nutritionally? Should brown rice be considered a healthy whole grain, just like quinoa, farro, and freekeh?

Read on to learn the nutrition of brown rice, the best way to cook it, and why you should (or shouldn’t) make it part of your diet.

Brown Rice Nutrition

According to the USDA, healthy adults need about 3 to 6 ounce-equivalents of whole grains each day. A typical serving (or 1-ounce equivalent) of cooked brown rice equals about ½ cup or 1 ounce dry.  

Here is the nutrition breakdown for a ½ cup serving of cooked medium-grain brown rice, according to the USDA:

Saturated fat0g
Unsaturated fats.6g
Calcium0% DV
Potassium2% DV


Brown rice is a good source of energizing complex carbohydrates. Compared to simple carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates are considered healthier because they contain fiber and are broken down more slowly by the body. If you’re looking to cut carbs, however, you may want to consider whole grains with less carbohydrates, such as oatmeal or bulgur.


Incorporating high-fiber foods like brown rice into your diet can help keep you full and prevent overeating. Specifically, brown rice contains insoluble fiber, which helps to keep things moving regularly through your digestive tract.


While you won’t see it on nutrition labels, brown rice notches an impressive amount of manganese. One serving of brown rice packs 1.07 mg, or about 50 percent of your recommended daily intake (2.3 mg). In the body, manganese helps with bone formation and also works alongside essential enzymes like DNA and RNA. Additionally, manganese helps convert energy from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in your body.

Brown Rice vs. White Rice

From a nutrition perspective, brown rice is considered to be a healthier choice than white rice. Brown rice is a whole grain because it’s less processed—the hull is removed, but the bran and the germ remain. White rice, on the other hand, is not a whole grain because its hull, bran, and germ are all removed during processing.

Per serving, white rice and brown rice have about the same amount of carbohydrates and protein. The major difference, however, is fiber content. Brown rice packs a solid amount of fiber for a relatively small serving size, while white rice has none whatsoever. As a result, brown rice is much more satiating than white rice, which is processed more quickly in your body.  

Brown Rice and Arsenic

A growing concern is the arsenic content of rice, including both brown and white varieties. Arsenic, a known carcinogen, has been linked to an increased risk of chronic disease. This harmful chemical naturally occurs in the soil and can find its way into water supplies. This is especially problematic for rice, which grows in large amounts of water.

When buying brown rice, double-check the source first. A 2014 report from Consumer Reports found that rice varieties from Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana contained the highest amounts of arsenic.

The same study also found that brown rice contained higher amounts of arsenic than white rice, but don’t let this deter you. You can greatly reduce the amount of arsenic by soaking the rice overnight, then draining and rinsing it thoroughly. Ignore what you see on the package—and cook the rice using a 1:5 rice to water ratio instead.

The FDA strongly recommends limiting arsenic exposure in pregnant women, infants, and young children. If this is something that concerns you, you can always substitute whole grains with very low amounts of arsenic—such as bulgur, barley, and farro—in place of brown rice.  

How to Cook Brown Rice

Cooking brown rice on the stovetop is easy. The key is to gently simmer it in a covered saucepan (no peeking!) until it’s fluffy and fragrant. Hone your technique by making this basic brown rice recipe.

Once you’ve nailed cooking brown rice, there are endless ways to enjoy it. Use it as the base for a burrito bowl or fried rice, or turn it into a pilaf by mixing in fresh herbs and other ingredients.

The Verdict on Brown Rice

Parslied Brown Rice Pilaf


Brown rice is a healthy whole grain that can absolutely be part of a balanced diet. Another plus: Brown rice is also a gluten-free grain, making it a solid option for those who have celiac disease.

While raising concerns about arsenic levels in brown rice may cause some to seek alternatives, this doesn’t mean you should avoid it entirely. When consumed in moderation, brown rice has plenty to offer nutritionally.

To get the most nutrients from brown rice, make sure to pair it with leafy greens and lean proteins.

Is Brown Rice Good for You?

Brown rice is a food often associated with healthy eating.

Considered a whole grain, brown rice is less processed than white rice, which has had its hull, bran, and germ removed.

Brown rice only has the hull (a hard protective covering) removed, leaving the nutrient-packed bran and germ.

As a result, brown rice retains the nutrients that white rice lacks such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

However, many people avoid brown rice due to the rising popularity of low-carb diets.

This article will discuss the health benefits of brown rice to help you decide if it’s a healthy food to add to your diet.

Brown Rice Is Surprisingly Nutritious

Is Brown Rice Good For You

Although brown rice is a simple food, its nutritional profile is anything but.

Compared to white rice, brown rice has much more to offer in terms of nutrients.

Although similar in calories and carbohydrate content, brown rice outshines white rice in nearly every other category.

One cup of brown rice contains (1):

  • Calories: 216
  • Carbs: 44 grams
  • Fiber: 3.5 grams
  • Fat: 1.8 grams
  • Protein: 5 grams
  • Thiamin (B1): 12% of the RDI
  • Niacin (B3): 15% of the RDI
  • Pyridoxine (B6): 14% of the RDI
  • Pantothenic acid (B5): 6% of the RDI
  • Iron: 5% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 21% of the RDI
  • Phosphorus: 16% of the RDI
  • Zinc: 8% of the RDI
  • Copper: 10% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 88% of the RDI
  • Selenium: 27% of the RDI

This whole grain is also a good source of folate, riboflavin (B2), potassium and calcium.

Additionally, brown rice is exceptionally high in manganese. This little-known mineral is vital for many important processes in the body, such as bone development, wound healing, muscle contraction metabolism, nerve function and blood sugar regulation (2Trusted Source).

A deficiency in manganese has been linked to a higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome, bone demineralization, impaired growth and low fertility (3Trusted Source4Trusted Source).

Just one cup of rice fulfills nearly all your daily requirement for this important nutrient.

Aside from being an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, brown rice provides powerful plant compounds, as well.

For example, brown rice contains phenols and flavonoids, a class of antioxidants that help protect the body from oxidative stress (5Trusted Source).

Oxidative stress is associated with a number of health conditions, including heart disease, certain types of cancer and premature aging (6Trusted Source).

The antioxidants found in brown rice help prevent cell injury caused by unstable molecules called free radicals and reduce inflammation in the body (7Trusted Source).

Studies suggest that the antioxidants found in rice may be the reason for the low prevalence of certain chronic diseases in areas of the world where rice is a staple food (8Trusted Source).

SUMMARYBrown rice is highly nutritious, providing the body with a wide array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Is Brown Rice Good for Weight Loss?

Replacing more refined grains with brown rice may help you lose weight.

Refined grains like white rice, white pasta and white bread lack the fiber and nutrients that whole grains like brown rice contain.

For example, one cup (158 grams) of brown rice contains 3.5 grams of fiber, while white rice contains less than 1 gram (9).

Fiber helps keep you fuller over a longer period of time, so choosing fiber-rich foods may help you consume fewer calories overall (10Trusted Source).

In fact, studies show that people who eat more whole grains like brown rice weigh less than those who consume fewer whole grains.

A study of over 74,000 women found that those who ate more whole grains weighed consistently less than those who ate fewer whole grains.

Plus, the women who had the highest intake of fiber had a 49% lower risk of major weight gain than the women who had the lowest fiber intake (11Trusted Source).

Replacing white rice with brown rice may help reduce belly fat, too.

In one study, 40 overweight women who ate 2/3 cup (150 grams) of brown rice per day for six weeks had significant reductions in body weight and waist circumference compared to women who ate the same amount of white rice.

Additionally, the women who ate brown rice experienced a significant decrease in blood pressure and CRP, a marker of inflammation in the body (12Trusted Source).

SUMMARYBrown rice contains more fiber than refined grains like white rice. Choosing fiber-rich whole grains like brown rice may reduce belly fat and help you lose weight.

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It Can Benefit Heart Health

There’s no doubt that brown rice is a heart-healthy food. It is rich in fiber and beneficial compounds that may help reduce the risk of heart disease.

A large study of over 560,000 people showed that people who ate the most dietary fiber had a 24–59% lower risk of developing heart disease, cancer and respiratory diseases (13Trusted Source).

Similarly, a review of 45 studies found that people who ate the highest amount of whole grains, including brown rice, had a 21% lower risk of coronary heart disease compared to those who ate the least whole grains (14Trusted Source).

Aside from being a good source of fiber, brown rice contains compounds called lignans that may help reduce heart disease risk factors.

Diets high in lignan-rich foods, such as whole grains, flax seeds, sesame seeds and nuts, have been associated with reduced cholesterol, lower blood pressure and decreased artery stiffness (15Trusted Source).

What’s more, brown rice is high in magnesium, a mineral that plays a critical role in keeping the heart healthy. One review of 40 studies found that increasing dietary magnesium was associated with a 7–22% lower risk of stroke, heart failure and all-cause mortality (16Trusted Source).

Another review of nine studies demonstrated that every 100 mg/day increase in dietary magnesium reduced heart disease mortality in women by 24–25% (17Trusted Source).

SUMMARYBrown rice is packed with fiber, lignans and magnesium, which all have beneficial effects on heart health and heart disease risk.

It’s a Better Choice for Those With Diabetes

Reducing carb intake and choosing healthier options is vital for blood sugar control.

Although carbs have the largest impact on blood sugar, people with diabetes can reduce blood sugar and insulin spikes by eating fewer refined grains like white rice.

Replacing white rice with brown rice may benefit people with diabetes in several ways.

In one study, people with type 2 diabetes who ate two servings of brown rice per day experienced a significant decrease in post-meal blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c (a marker of blood sugar control), compared to those who ate white rice (18Trusted Source).

Brown rice has a lower glycemic index than white rice, meaning that it’s digested slower and has less of an impact on blood sugar.

Choosing foods with a lower glycemic index can help those with diabetes better control their blood sugar.

Multiple studies suggest that foods with a higher glycemic index increase blood sugar, insulin and ghrelin, a hormone that drives hunger (19Trusted Source20Trusted Source).

Reducing ghrelin levels may help people with diabetes control their hunger, which can reduce overeating and help keep blood sugar in check.

Plus, replacing white rice with brown rice may reduce the chances of developing type 2 diabetes in the first place.

In a study including over 197,000 people, swapping just 50 grams of white rice for brown rice per week was associated with a 16% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes (21Trusted Source).

SUMMARYChoosing brown rice over refined grains can help people with diabetes control their blood sugar and reduce the chances of developing diabetes at all.

Brown Rice Is Naturally Gluten-Free

Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. These days, more and more people are following gluten-free diets for various reasons.

Certain people are allergic or intolerant to gluten and experience mild to severe reactions to it like stomach pain, diarrhea, bloating and vomiting.

Additionally, people with certain autoimmune diseases often benefit from a gluten-free diet (22Trusted Source23Trusted Source).

These factors have led to a growing demand for gluten-free foods.

Luckily, brown rice is naturally free of this often problematic protein, making it a safe choice for those who can’t or choose not to consume gluten.

Unlike highly processed gluten-free items, brown rice is a whole grain that is packed with beneficial nutrients that your body needs to function properly.

Brown rice is also made into other wholesome gluten-free products like crackers and pasta that people on gluten-free diets can enjoy.

SUMMARYBrown rice does not contain gluten and is a safe and healthy choice for those following gluten-free diets.

How to Add Brown Rice to Your Diet

One of the best qualities of brown rice is its versatility.

You can eat it at any time of day and incorporate it into a variety of recipes.

Here are some ways to add brown rice to your diet:

  • Make a grain bowl for lunch with brown rice, veggies and protein
  • Top brown rice with eggs, salsa, avocados and black beans for a savory breakfast
  • Swap oatmeal for brown rice porridge at breakfast
  • Use brown rice instead of white rice when making stir-fries
  • Instead of white pasta, incorporate brown rice into your favorite soup recipes
  • Toss brown rice with fresh veggies and olive oil for a tasty side dish
  • Make black bean and brown rice burgers for a plant-based dinner or lunch
  • Use brown rice to make energy bars
  • Switch white rice with brown rice for a healthier version of rice pudding
  • Ask for brown rice in your sushi rolls to up the fiber content of your meal
  • Use brown rice in your curry recipes
  • Try a healthy twist on risotto by using brown rice instead of arborio rice
  • Swap white pasta with brown rice pasta
  • Sauté brown rice with olive oil and garlic for a flavorful carbohydrate option

As you can see, there are countless ways to consume brown rice. This nutritious whole grain pairs well with many ingredients and can be enjoyed at breakfast, lunch or dinner.

SUMMARYBrown rice is a flexible ingredient that can be enjoyed in various recipes and meals. You can also use it as a healthy replacement for white rice or pasta.

The Bottom Line

Brown rice is a highly nutritious, gluten-free grain that contains an impressive amount of vitamins, minerals and beneficial compounds.

Consuming whole grains like brown rice can help prevent or improve several health conditions, including diabetes and heart disease.

Not to mention, swapping refined grains like white rice for brown rice may even help you lose weight. Brown rice is a versatile carb that can be eaten at any time of day.

Any way you choose to eat this healthy whole grain, you will be making a wise choice for your overall health.

Brown Rice (Oryza sativa): Health benefits and Side effects

By Dr. Sapna Baghel -May 13, 2019

brown rice health benefits & side effects

Table of Contents

Edited By Dr. Asha Jyoti Bharati

For centuries, Rice (Oryza sativa L.) belongs to the family: Poaceae is a staple food for many people. The high demand makes rice one of the largest producing crops around the world.

Nowadays the advance of grain-processing technology made it possible for large scale production. Today there are more than 8000 varieties of rice.

What is a Brown Rice

Rice can be group as either white or brown rice depending upon the post-harvesting process.

White rice: It is also known as polished rice is manufactured by removing the outer bran and germ layer consist of starchy endosperm.

Brown rice: In brown rice, the outer bran is not removed therefore called unpolished rice. Brown rice is further divided into germinated and non-germinated brown rice. Germinated rice is made by soaking the brown rice grain in water to initiate germination.

Nutritional value of Brown Rice

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Brown Rice contains a relatively high amount of dietary fibers, phytic acid and B vitamins and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and other components are as follows

Compound                                                                   Amounts per 100 g.
Water70.27 g
Energy                                                                    123 kcal
Protein2.74 g
Total lipid (  Fat)s0.97 g
Carbohydrates25.58 g
Dietary Fiber1.6 g
Sugar0.24 g
Calcium3 mg
Iron0.56 mg
Magnesium39 mg
Phosphorous103 mg
Potassium86 mg
Sodium4 mg
Zinc0.71 mg
Folates9 µg
Niacin2.56 mg
Riboflavin0.07 mg
Thiamin0.1 mg
Vitamin B-60.12 mg
Vitamin A0 IU
Vitamin E0.17 mg
Vitamin C0 mg
Vitamin K0.2 µg

Health benefits of Brown Rice

1. Manage diabetes

High phytic acid, polyphenols, dietary fiber helps in lowering the glycemic index by slowing glucose absorption and improves insulin sensitivity (3). Therefore, brown rice may be health beneficial food for a decreased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes patients (4).

2. Antioxidant activity

Brown rice contains vitamin E, phenolic acid and antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase. They can reduce the risk of various diseases by protecting cells against oxidative damage (5).

3. Sleep-inducing

Brown rice contains tryptophan which encourages the production of serotonin. Serotonin has sedative and analgesic properties (6).

Moreover germinated brown rice contains GABA (neurotransmitter) which significantly improves sleep quality among elderly people which may help with insomnia.

4. Prevent Alzheimer’s disease

Germinated brown rice contains a potent inhibitor which facilitates the slowdown of an enzyme called protylendopetidase, which causes Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias (7).

5. Prevent obesity

A research study suggested that brown rice decreases body weight because it contains high fiber. It helps in controlling the appetite by delaying carbohydrate absorption.

Fibers also help in lowering the glycemic index and postprandial glucose and insulin levels which reduce hunger or increase satiety further reduce BMI and waist circumference in metabolic syndrome patients (8).  

6. Lowers cholesterol

g-Oryzanol found in brown rice is responsible for decreasing serum triglycerides (TGs) and total cholesterol (TC) levels and increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. Therefore, brown rice supplementations on diet suppress lipid accumulation and improve serum lipid profiles (9).

7. Good for lactating mothers

Consumption of brown rice is good for lactating mothers’ mental health because it may reduce depression, anger-hostility, and fatigue thus a significant decrease in total mood disturbance (10).

8. Improves digestion

Brown rice is good for the stomach because the bran layer on it contains nutrients that are more easily digested and it reduces the absorption of moisture and acid which causes texture degradation (11).

9. Healthy heart

Brown rice (195 g/day) is a rich source of insoluble fiber, magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin B1 and phytochemicals which keeps the heart healthy by improvements in endothelial function and preventing the formation of atherosclerotic plaques and lower risk of stroke (12).

10. Anti Cancerous

Brown rice contains biologically active compounds along with selenium which inhibits the inflammatory response in cancer (breast, colon, and prostate) through the reduction of oxidative stress (13). Moreover, GABA present in germinated brown rice also inhibits leukemia cell proliferation and promotes apoptosis of cancer cells (14).

11. Antidepressant

GABA, glutamine, and glycerin in germinated brown rice acts as an antidepressant and alleviate stress, anxiety, grief or depression (15).

12. Healthy Liver

Selenium present in brown rice acts with the enzyme as a cofactor known as glutathione peroxidase. This helps in detoxify harmful molecules in the liver. Other compounds like detoxifying harmful molecules in the liver also help in decreasing liver inflammation and fibrosis and further reduce the risk of liver cirrhosis and cancer (16).

Chinese use brown rice congee (thin porridge) for the treatment of digestive diseases and helpful for the liver to recover naturally (17).

Side effects of Brown Rice

Brown rice is less popular than that of traditional white rice. This low popularity of brown rice is mainly due to its appearance, taste, longer cooking time, cost, limited availability, and bioavailability. Some of the side effects of brown rice are

1. Allergy

Allergy to brown rice is very rare because it is safe when consuming in a moderate amount. But persons who have allergy from rice bran should avoid eating brown rice (18).

2. Presence of arsenic

Research study proved that brown rice contains 80 % more inorganic arsenic than white rice. This is mainly because of the presence of the germ layer in brown rice. Exposure to arsenic is bad for health (19). However, this risk can be reduced by cooking rice in high volumes of water and draining excess water (20).

3. Phytic acid in Brown rice

Brown rice also contain antinutrients like phytic acid have adverse effects on bioavailability of this whole grain nutrient (21).

How to cook brown rice?

Brown rice takes longer time and high volume of water than white rice because of its outer layer. For 1 cup soaked brown rice to 2 cups of water (500 mL) is required. It takes approximately 25- 30 min. And should be consumed within 24 hrs of its cooking (22).

Brown rice pilaf recipe

Ingredients for 2 persons

  1. Brown rice 1 cup
  2. Green vegetables (carrot, bell pepper, zucchini, broccoli)
  3. Butter or oil
  4. Cinnamon
  5. Cardamom (Black and green)
  6. Clove
  7. Bay leaf
  8. Water
  9. Salt and pepper
  10. d


  1. Cook brown rice (for one cup brown rice add 2 and a half cup of water) for at least half an hour.
  2. Boil vegetables (5 mins maximum) and keep it aside.
  3. In a pan and add little oil or butter and heat it. Then add cinnamon, cardamon (1 black), clove and fry it.
  4. Add onion and vegetables and saute it.
  5. Add the boiled brown rice and mix it well
  6. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 min and ready to serve

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