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When to Eat White Rice, How to Make Brown Rice

Contrary to popular belief, white rice isn't a poor food choice for everyone. The truth is that white rice contains some health-promoting nutrients, and there are circumstances in which white rice can actually be a healthier choice than brown rice.

White rice is brown rice that has been polished down to remove outer layers that contain a number of nutrients, including small amounts of essential fatty acids that tend to go rancid after about 6 to 12 months of being in storage. Stripping brown rice of its husk, bran, and germ decreases the likelihood of spoilage, which allows for longer storage times.

Because white rice contains less fiber than brown rice, white rice is the better choice for people who have sensitive, inflamed, or damaged digestive tracts. While fiber is generally helpful for adding bulk to stools and promoting regular bowel movements, too much fiber can be problematic for people with weak gastrointestinal tracts. Over the years, I've found that people who have colitis and/or problems with chronic diarrhea tend to experience pain and excessive gas production when they eat brown rice, while white rice tends to be well tolerated.

White rice can also be a good choice when first introducing solid foods to babies, since their digestive tracts need time to develop and get acclimated to processing solids, and brown rice requires more digestive strength to break down than white rice. It's important to note, though, that giving babies too much white rice on its own may lead to constipation, so it's best to provide a mix of white rice and a variety of well cooked vegetables.

When our children first started on solids, we found that a good approach was to give them a mix of well cooked white rice, Bok choy, and vegetable or chicken broth (this was in addition to plenty of other plant foods). As they became accustomed to eating solids, we gradually substituted brown rice for white rice, and today, they eat mainly brown rice.

In the absence of digestive challenges, the high density of nutrients in brown rice makes it the healthier choice, but it's essential to prepare it in a way that allows for optimal nutritional yield once inside your digestive tract.

Proper preparation of brown rice includes soaking it for at least six hours prior to cooking, and cooking with 2 cups of water for every cup of rice. These measures result in soft and fluffy brown rice that is ready to break down in your GI tract and release B vitamins, magnesium, iron, amino acids, carbohydrates, and zinc into your system. Brown rice is especially rich in vitamin B1 (thiamin) and vitamin B3 (niacin), both of which are critical to everyday metabolic activities.

In case you're wondering about the nutritional profile of white rice, in addition to being a source of carbohydrates, most varieties of white rice around the world are fortified with vitamin B1, vitamin B3, and iron. White rice is also a fair source of protein.

If you don't eat brown rice but would like to add some to your diet, you may want to start by mixing batches of brown and white rice - this is a good approach for people who are resistant to new flavors and textures.

To make a mixed batch of brown and white rice, use 1 cup of water for every cup of white rice, and 2 cups of water for every cup of brown rice, and cook them together in the same pot or rice cooker. For example, for a batch made with half a cup of white rice and half a cup of brown rice, you'll need to use 1.5 cups of water. Don't forget to soak the brown rice for at least six hours prior to cooking. We wash and soak our rice at night so that it's ready to cook in the morning. It's fine to soak white rice in this manner as well.

If you prefer or need to eat mainly white rice, be sure to eat it with plenty of cooked vegetables and/or avocado to prevent constipation. Fiber from well cooked vegetables and avocados does not typically cause irritation to a weakened or damaged digestive tract.

In Korea, it's often said that from planting to harvesting, a rice farmer has to complete 88 steps to produce a healthy crop of rice. A lot of work goes into producing a healthy bowl of rice, both on the farm and in the kitchen, but when prepared and eaten with gratitude, rice can be a health-promoting staple for the masses.

Please note: If you're a rice person or plan on becoming one, I highly recommend that you look into getting a rice cooker that cooks rice and keeps it warm. A quality rice cooker will save you a lot of time and provide ready-to-eat rice all day long. Here's an excellent model at Amazon:

Zojirushi NS-LAC05 Micom 3-Cup Rice Cooker and Warmer, Stainless Steel

If you live outside of the United States and would like a quality rice cooker, you're likely to find one at a local Asian food market. Over the years, I've found that the best models are made in Japan.


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Its really hard to believe that dr ben calls white rice a fair source of protein!!!! not only is it really low in protein, usually 8%, but the protein is limited and really incomplete.It is actually a very poor source of protein!, and the lowest of all the cereals.

I think what he might mean is the protein content is fair compared to brown rice. Between the two types of rice you have similar protein content.

Thank You for your ongoing work. Good, consistent health information is hard to find.

Does any one know of a rice cooker that does not have a teflon pan? We have eliminated all plastic & teflon, except for our rice cooker. We can't find one that does not have a teflon pan.

Our rice cooker was the last thing to go from out 'teflon' items. It was really hard to let it go at the time because I had never had success cooking rice until the cooker came along. However I now do not miss it one bit. I have learned to cook rice the boiling method. I find the important thing is to stay with it and stir. Good luck and well done on excluding the plastic and teflon items

There are aluminum-free and teflon-free stainless steel rice cookers you can buy and are wonderful. We've had mine for a few years now and we love cooking rice with it. I bought mine in Beijing.

If you can do without the "keep warm" feature on the rice cooker (which I admit is awfully handy), I can't reccommend highly enough that you just cook your rice in a steel pressure cooker. It's fast - faster than a rice cooker or pot - and lovely, fluffy and perfect every time, and doesn't stick if you don't overcook it.

We started doing this because we live in Australia, and it's just not possible to get a rice cooker here that isn't non-stick. But even when we leave, I'll keep using the pressure cooker - it's obviously a lot more versatile than a rice cooker as well.

It is my humble view that Dr.Ben Kim might be wrong in saying that white rice comes from brown rice.

Brown rice and white rice are two different varieties if rice. Most probably he is mistaking well-polished brown rice as white rice and he is not aware that there is a variety of white rice which is not brown any time during its production.

Then you have the raw rice and boiled rice. In boiled rice you have ordinary boiled rice and par-boiled rice. In all varieties mentioned above you have polished and unpolished.

Unpolished white rice is still white rice while unpolished brown rice is brown until it is polished.

May be Dr.Ben Kim lost touch with the farm and is not aware of these FACTS.

After all, I will eat white rice every day over all those fried foods such as fries, onion rings, burgers, etc. I eat rice almost every day, brown or white, sometime mixed, with lots of vegetables, Some Chicken or Fish goes well with it, no beef or pork. Rice is a great substitute for those fatty foods.


The process that produces brown rice removes only the outermost layer, the hull, of the rice kernel and is the least damaging to its nutritional value. The complete milling and polishing that converts brown rice into white rice destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1, 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids. Fully milled and polished white rice is required to be "enriched" with vitamins B1, B3 and iron.

but, Dr Ben Kim, is definitely correct that white rice is brown rice with the outer hull/shell removed. This is indeed a FACT

My family has been in the rice milling business for generations. Brown rice is indeed white rice that the hull has been knocked off of in the milling process and the bran is left on.

White rice, on the other hand, is just further processed and has had the bran coating milled off.

All rice is brown rice first. The processing makes the difference.

Try being informed instead of just opinionated. These are the FACTS.

Great article Dr. Kim, but you neglected to talk about phytates. Phytates are found in whole grains that have not been soaked, fermented (as in sourdough), or sprouted. They bond to vitamin-absorbing enzymes in your small intestine, blocking those enzymes from absorbing needed nutrients.

Therefore, un-soaked or un-sprouted brown rice eaten with a meal can actually result in less nutrient absorption than the infamous white rice.

Source: Nourishing Traditions (2001) by Sally Fallon. See:

This article is very helpful for me. I've been having health problems which seem to be related to certain foods. And I do much better with white rice than with brown rice or quinoa. It is difficult to find anything online to address this -- most everyone just says stuff like: eat brown rice because it is healthy but white rice will do bad things to your health.

Yet I also read that Asian people in their native countries eat white rice and don't have the chronic diseases associated with the standard American diet.

So thank you for this article. I'll eat my white rice and veggies.

I have a discussion with my sister-in-law as to why Asians eat rice I say it is to cleanse the palate or simply as an accompaniment; she insists it's eaten at the end of a meal to 'bulk up' or fill the stomach can you settle this discussion?