Brown Rice Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Brown rice

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Brown rice is a whole grain that is high in fiber and loaded with nutrients like manganese, selenium, and magnesium. Many people choose it as a more nutrient-dense alternative to white rice, which has had its hull, bran layer, and cereal germ removed. In brown rice, only the hull is removed.

Because of its high fiber content, moderate supply of protein, and medium ranking on the glycemic index, brown rice can be more filling than white rice. And though its texture is firmer and chewier than white rice, you may prefer its heartiness in dishes like stir-fries, fried rice, and burritos.

Brown Rice Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information, for 1 cup (195 grams) of cooked medium-grain brown rice, comes from the USDA.

  • Calories: 218
  • Fat: 1.6g
  • Sodium: 1mg
  • Carbohydrates: 46g
  • Fiber: 3.5g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 4.5g

Carbs 

As a whole grain, brown rice is rich in complex carbohydrates. Most of its carbohydrates come from starches while 3.5 grams per cup come from fiber. There is no appreciable amount of sugar in brown rice.

Compared to its white counterpart, brown rice is somewhat lower in carbohydrates. While 1 cup of white rice contains 53 grams of carbs, the same amount of brown rice contains 46 grams.

Fats

Plain brown rice is a low-fat food, with just 1.6 grams per cup.

Protein

Brown rice is not a protein powerhouse, but it does supply a modest amount of this macronutrient. In 1 cup, you will take in 4.5 grams of plant-based protein—about 10% of the daily value of 50 grams.

Vitamins and Minerals

With its nutrient-rich bran layer left intact, brown rice has plenty to offer in terms of vitamins and minerals. One cup boasts about 88% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) for manganese, 21% for magnesium, and 27% for selenium. Other minerals like phosphorus, copper, and vitamin B6 are present in smaller—but still significant—amounts.

Calories 

One cup of cooked brown rice provides 218 calories. This is about 10% fewer calories than the same amount of white rice. Most of these calories come from carbohydrates.

Health Benefits

Including brown rice in a balanced diet offers a number of benefits. Here is an overview of the potential health benefits of eating brown rice.

May Improve Heart Health

Because brown rice retains its outer bran layer and cereal bran, it is considered a whole grain. What's more, consuming whole grains has been linked to heart health.

A landmark systematic review from 2016 analyzed 45 studies and determined that intake of whole grains was associated with a reduced risk of numerous health conditions, notably coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease.

May Keep Blood Sugar From Rising

If you have diabetes or have other blood sugar concerns, you are likely familiar with the glycemic index—a system that ranks foods by how much they increase blood sugar. Brown rice is classified as a low-glycemic index food, with a score of 50.

Foods that score below 55 are considered low-glycemic foods. This means that it will not precipitously raise your blood sugar, especially as compared to white rice, which scores higher on the glycemic index.

May Promote Healthy Digestion

While brown rice may not be as high in fiber as some other whole grains, at 3.5 grams per cup it still contributes to your daily intake. Eating a diet high in fiber is associated not only with improved bowel regularity but also can reduce the risk of colon cancer and promote better overall metabolic health.

May Aid in Weight Management

Increased whole-grain intake has long been associated with maintaining a healthy weight, but newer research shows that brown rice, in particular, can be a helpful part of weight management. A 2018 study on more than 1,000 subjects compared the effects of regularly choosing brown rice over white. Those who ate brown rice had consistently lower body mass index (BMI) than those who ate refined rice.

Allergies

Allergies to rice are rare, but not unheard of. Symptoms of a brown rice allergy may include vomiting or diarrhea, difficulty breathing, skin rash, or swelling of the mouth, lips, throat, or tongue after eating. Talk to a healthcare provider if you suspect you may have a rice allergy. They can perform testing to help determine the cause of your symptoms.

Adverse Effects

One common concern surrounding rice, in general, is the arsenic content. According to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report from 2016, on average, brown rice contains 154 parts per billion of arsenic (compared to 92 parts per billion in white rice). This amount is not considered toxic in the short-term, but with long-term consumption, could become dangerous.

To minimize arsenic in any brown rice you make at home, you can cook the rice in excess water (such as six parts water to one part rice, rather than the usual two parts water to one part rice), then drain the excess water. Or simply vary the types of grains you eat on a regular basis, rotating brown rice with other choices like quinoa, whole-wheat pasta, and farro.

Varieties

Brown rice may seem like a straightforward food without much variation, but there are a handful of varieties of this grain. In addition to short-grain, medium-grain, and long-grain versions, basmati and jasmine versions are also available.

Because brown rice is notorious for taking a long time to cook, par-boiled quick-cooking varieties cut down on prep time. Instead of needing an hour or more, these products can get brown rice on the table in as little as 15 minutes.

Storage and Food Safety

In terms of food storage, it does not get much easier than brown rice. Simply store this grain in a closed container in a cool, dry place, where it will stay fresh for at least 6 months.

Once cooked, be sure to keep leftover brown rice in the refrigerator in a sealed container. Here, it can retain its freshness for up to 6 days. If you would like to hang onto cooked rice even longer—4 to 6 months—pop it in the freezer.

How to Prepare

Because its outer shell has been left intact, brown rice takes significantly longer than white rice to cook—but the process of prepping this healthy grain is still quite easy. On the stovetop, combine one part rice with two parts water or other liquid, like broth.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the rice is tender. This process can take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. Using a rice cooker, pressure cooker, or slow cooker also makes for effortless preparation with varying cook times.

Recipes

 

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9 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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