Brown Rice Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Brown rice

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Brown rice is a nutritious, high-fiber food. The bran layers that are typically stripped from white rice are retained in brown rice. This means brown rice contains valuable phytochemicals like essential amino acids, fiber, minerals, flavonoids, and more.

People on fad or low-carb diets may avoid brown rice due to its carb content. What is often misunderstood is the nutritional value of certain carbohydrates like brown rice. This whole grain contains vitamins, minerals, plant protein, fiber, and is a great source of slow-release energy to sustain optimal body function throughout the day.

For a carbohydrate-rich food, brown rice is low in fat, has minimal naturally-occurring sugar, and contains a good amount of protein. Studies also indicate brown rice is an important component of a healthy diet that may help reduce the risk of chronic disease.

Brown Rice Nutrition Facts

The following information is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for a 1-cup (195g) serving of cooked medium-grain brown rice.

  • Calories: 218
  • Fat: 1.6g
  • Sodium: 2mg
  • Carbohydrates: 45.8g
  • Fiber: 3.5g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 4.5g
  • Magnesium: 85.8mg


A single serving of brown rice contains over 45 grams of complex carbohydrates, 3.5 grams of fiber, and trace amounts of sugar. Complex carbs are more nutritious than simple carbohydrates because they contain fiber and other nutrients.

Because of the high fiber content, brown rice digests slower in the body for sustained energy. Brown rice also has a medium glycemic index (GI) ranking between 64–72, according to data provided by the American Diabetes Association (ADA). While the GI of some brands of brown rice may be on the higher side, this whole grain is still recommended by the ADA.

The GI score represents how fast carbohydrate-rich food raises blood glucose. Meal planning with the glycemic index involves selecting carbs that have a low to medium GI rating to better maintain blood sugar levels. Food combining also alters the GI score.


Brown rice has trace amounts of mono and polyunsaturated fats with only 1.2 grams per serving. Unsaturated fats are considered healthy fats coming from plant sources and fatty fish.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends between 25–35% of total daily calories come from unsaturated fats. Preparing brown rice without added oil or butter would create a virtually fat-free dish.


There are more than 4 grams of plant protein per 1 cup cooked serving of brown rice. There are two forms of protein, complete and incomplete. Brown rice, like most grains, contains incomplete protein so it lacks some of the amino acids to make a complete protein. According to the dietary guidelines set forth by the USDA, it is recommended 10–35% of total daily calories come from protein for adult men and women.

Vitamins and Minerals

Brown rice, unlike white rice, retains the bran layer which is full of valuable vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Among these are B vitamins, fiber, essential amino acids, flavonoids, minerals, and antioxidant compounds. Brown rice also contains high levels of phytic acid, an anti-nutrient that exhibits antioxidant function and possesses medicinal value according to research.


Cooked brown rice contains 218 calories in a 1-cup (195g) serving. A total of 86% of the calories come from carbs, 8% from protein, and 6% from fat.

Health Benefits

Brown rice is a popular naturally gluten-free, whole grain option for those diagnosed with celiac disease, wheat sensitivity, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. It also contains valuable phytochemicals shown to play a valuable role in disease prevention.

Many of the health benefits of brown rice come from the antioxidants, fiber, and other valuable chemical compounds found in the bran layer. Research has indicated that brown rice is associated with a wide range of medicinal properties.

Provides a Nutritious Source of Energy

Brown rice contains a significant number of nutrients, especially when compared to white rice. These include protein, lipids, and several mineral and vitamins.Cereal grains like rice of all kinds are a primary source of dietary carbohydrates, and much of the daily energy in people's diets is obtained from carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates in the form of starch make up much of the content of brown rice, making it a good energy source. Brown rice is also rich in dietary fiber, especially compared to white rice, since the outer bran layer remains intact. Consuming whole grains like brown rice may help decrease your risk of developing certain chronic diseases.

Provides Healthful Fiber

Getting plenty of fiber in your diet supports digestion, blood sugar control, weight management, heart health, and many other benefits. Brown rice is an excellent source of dietary fiber. A 1-cup serving of cooked brown rice provides 13% of your daily fiber needs.

Reduces Risk of Chronic Diseases

Consuming whole grains like brown rice decreases your risk of developing chronic diseases. Brown rice is anti-diabetic, anti-cholesterol, cardioprotective, and antioxidant. Brown rice is beneficial for post-meal blood sugar control because of its lower glycaemic index compared to white rice (55 vs. 64).

Contains Health Boosting Phytochemicals

Brown rice contains plenty of phytochemicals, which are known to boost health. These include dietary fiber, functional lipids, essential amino acids, phytosterols, phenolic acids, flavonoids, anthocyanins, proanthocyanins, tocopherols, tocotrienols, minerals, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and γ-oryzanol.

Phenolic compounds like the ones found in brown rice are associated with a plethora of health benefits including anti-inflammatory, hypoglycaemic, anticarcinogenic, antiallergenic, and antiatherosclerotic properties. These include phenolic acids, flavonoids, tannins, coumarins, and stilbenes.

Helps Prevent Anemia

Brown rice contains iron, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and copper. Consuming white rice with a low amount of trace minerals is thought to be a cause of anemia and zinc deficiency disorders, primarily in third world countries. The WHO estimates that over 30% of the world population is anemic, mostly from iron deficiency. Brown rice contains the highest amount of iron of any other type of processed rice.

The iron and other mineral content of brown rice play a significant role in health and anemia prevention due to the large amount of rice consumed worldwide.


Rice allergy is uncommon, but it is possible, particularly in Asian countries where rice makes up a larger portion of the diet. If you are sensitive to corn, soy, and barley you may also be sensitive to rice.

Adverse Effects

Arsenic is a toxin found in the environment naturally. Some studies suggest that it is found in nearly all food and drinks to some degree, including brown rice.

There are two different types of arsenic—organic and inorganic—the latter being the most toxic form. Higher levels of inorganic arsenic have been found in brown rice because of contaminated irrigation water leaching into the soil feeding the crops. Sometimes cooking water is the cause of increased inorganic arsenic levels in brown rice.

This doesn’t mean brown rice should be excluded from your diet.

According to a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report the estimated inorganic arsenic concentration in brown rice is 154 parts per billion (ppb) compared to 92 ppb in white rice. The FDA report indicates these levels do not pose a health concern for immediate toxicity but may pose a risk following long-term exposure.

That said, it may be beneficial for those people eating considerable amounts of brown rice daily to moderate intake. The FDA suggests eating a well-balanced diet to minimize potential adverse effects from consuming an excess of any one food. The FDA has also set a limit on how much inorganic arsenic allowable in infant rice cereal.

Suggestions to reduce the levels of arsenic in brown rice include:

How to Reduce Arsenic in Rice

  • Wash brown rice in filtered water low in arsenic before cooking.
  • Cook brown rice in plenty of filtered water low in arsenic. (6 to 1 water to rice ratio is best)
  • If you eat large amounts of rice, white rice may be a better option than brown rice.
  • Vary the type of grains consumed during the week.
  • Eat brown rice in moderation as part of a varied diet.


Brown rice has several varieties, including short-grain, medium-grain, and long-grain. It has a nutty flavor, and the grain size gives each type a unique texture once cooked. Brown rice also takes longer to cook compared to refined white rice.

Short-grain brown rice has a short, plump, and almost round appearance. The grains are soft, tender, and stick together when cooked.

Medium-grain brown rice is larger and plumper than short-grain but not as large as the long-grain variety. The grains are very moist and tender with less tendency to stick together when cooked than the short-grain type.

Long-grain brown rice is long and slender compared to the medium and short-grain varieties. The grains are light, fluffy, and separate when cooked. It is also the most familiar variety in popular dishes like rice pilaf.

Storage and Food Safety

Brown rice is a long-term storage food, meaning it can last a long time if stored in an air-tight container out of extreme temperatures or direct sunlight. Ensure you store it in a container that resists access from pests and check any rice stored for a long time for insects.

How to Prepare

Rice can be prepared and used in endless ways. You can boil it in milk, broth, water, tomato sauce or other seasoned and flavored liquids, or add it directly to dishes with plenty of liquid such as soups, stews, or one-pot recipes.

Rice can be cooked in a rice cooker, on a stovetop, in the microwave, or in a pressure cooker, among other methods. You can season it in any way you choose, either sweet or savory. It can be enjoyed hot or cold, as a base for curries and stir fry, or as a side dish.

17 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Additional Reading

By Darla Leal
Darla Leal is a Master Fitness Trainer, freelance writer, and the creator of Stay Healthy Fitness, where she embraces a "fit-over-55" lifestyle.