A Guide to Rice: Is White, Brown or Black Rice Better?

white brown black rice

Rice is the staple food for most of us locally. The Singapore love affair with rice runs deep, with Singaporeans consuming 300,000 tonnes of rice in 2014.

Since all of us are consuming so much rice, it’s important to figure out what rice does to our bodies. we decided to explore the nutritional benefits and effects of three main types of rice eaten in Singapore: White, brown and black rice.

White Rice

white rice

Most of us grew up eating white rice. For as long as this writer remembers, white rice is eaten as a porridge, as part of fried rice or as a staple during sit down dinners at home.

One cup of cooked, short grain white rice (200g) contains 241.8 calories, a large majority of it made out of carbohydrates. White rice is soft, fluffy and very fragrant, so it’s probably the most attractive of the three rices we’re looking at today.

These days, a lot of people knock on white rice with good reason. We mostly eat short grain white rice. It’s been milled and processed, so the husks and outer layers have been stripped away. This makes it easier for our bodies to digest and turn into energy quicker. As such, white rice ranks high on the Glycemic Index (GI), which is a measure of how quickly a food pushes up blood sugar in the body. The sugar hits your blood stream quickly, and if you don’t burn it off within four hours, the energy gets converted into fat storage.

What it means for you: For most of us, this means we have to watch when we eat that white rice. Many of us love our chicken rice. That’s not a problem as long as you know when to eat it.

If you know you’re going to be exerting yourself in the next few hours, please go ahead and help yourself to a moderate amount of white rice! However, if you know you’re going to be deskbound for the next half of the day, avoid that white rice!

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Brown Rice

brown rice

Brown rice came under the spotlight not too long ago. In the past two to three years, nutritionists have been touting the benefits of replacing white rice with brown rice.

Brown rice is unpolished rice, with only the husk removed. This is important because the unpolished portion means that there is extra fibre in brown rice versus white rice. One cup of brown, medium grain (200g) rice is 218.4 calories. It’s a little less than white rice but that’s not the only benefit.

Brown rice is high in Manganese, which helps to synthesise fats. It is also has a lower GI value, largely due to the fact that the body takes a longer time to break it down as opposed to white rice. This is important because it gives you that steady flow of glucose as your body breaks down the rice slowly. It gives you the chance to work off that sugar through the day, instead of having to deal with all of it at one shot.

What it means for you: It’s not license to eat with reckless abandon. Instead, make brown rice a replacement to white rice and create a habit of asking for it when you dine out. Most food joints and even some economic rice stalls have started to give people an option of having brown rice. You’re going to be fuller for longer, have a more steady energy flow and feel better in the long term. Just remember that you still have to work out to burn that energy!

Black Rice

black rice

Black rice is still a bit of a mystery for most of us because many of us don’t eat it. Black rice is not a less processed form of brown rice. Instead, black rice is a close cousin of the black glutinous rice.

One cup of black, medium grain (200g) rice is 215 calories. Black rice is special because it is highly nutritious. It possesses a unique antioxidant called Anthocyanin, which is capable of lowering the risk of heart attack by preventing plaque build up in arteries. On top of that, black rice has dietary fibre, anti-inflammatory properties, and has the ability to help stop the development of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and even weight gain.

Unfortunately, black rice is not as low in terms of GI value when compared to brown rice. It is, however, higher in protein and lower in carbohydrate content than brown rice. This is a great trade off and makes black rice as viable a staple as brown rice.

What it means for you: If you have risk of heart problems or want to prevent heart issues, black rice is perfect for you. It won’t keep you as full for as long as brown rice, but it is definitely tastier and packs a very wholesome punch in terms of nutrition. Black rice can be more expensive, so a good idea would be to mix brown and black rice together in a 2:1 ratio. That way, you can get benefits from both types of rice!

This article was originally written for Daily Vanity. Check their website out for more awesome articles!

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