Most of us know that choosing fruits, vegetables and other foods in a variety of colors is key to having a nutrient rich diet. The colors are indications of the nutrients they contain. Green vegetables are high in chlorophyll and certain vitamins. Orange and yellow vegetables are high in Vitamin A (beta carotene), red vegetables are high in lycopene and red fruits are high in antioxidants.
Its similar with grains. Wheat, oats and rye we accept all as being brown. The brown, red and black outer layers of rice indicates fiber, B Vitamins and trace minerals that come from the soil.
So if we understand that choosing foods in a variety of colors is key to a nutrient rich diet… then why do so many people accept rice to be white?
I bet that if you asked people what color rice is most of them would say white. Especially kids. I think this is where the problem starts. Many of us are raised to think that rice is white and that’s what rice is supposed to be. Or that we know brown rice exists… its just not as good for some reason.
Turns out rice isn’t suppose to be white and if it is… its just another processed, refined food with a lack of nutrients.
The term whole grains is very literal. It means the “whole” grain including the outer layers and it has not processed/refined to have anything removed from the grain itself.
All rice starts off as shades of brown, red, yellow or black. White rice does not occur in nature unless the some of the husks fall off. It is made by removing the outer layers of the rice (the good stuff) then polishing what is left. Because of this processing, white rice is not a whole grain.
There is a drastic difference between the white, starchy potato looking things on the right and the whole grain brown rice on the left. The brown rice even looks healthier.
All of the beneficial nutrients in rice are mostly contained in the bran and germ (outer layers) of the rice. The stuff that gives rice its color.
White rice is mostly just starch and empty carbs. Not much different than white bread (which is bad for the same reasons. Its had all the good material taken out.) Because of it being mostly starch white rice increases the risk of diabetes as most starchy carbs do. Because they are rapidly digested they spike insulin levels creating high blood sugar.
Slower digesting carbs (brown rice, whole wheat, quinoa, oatmeal, etc) create a slow steady pace of insulin providing sustained, leveled out energy with no spikes in blood sugar.
That same stuff that gives color to rice also gives us a lot of nutrients. Brown rice contains selenium, iron, zinc, iodine, copper, manganese, trace minerals, phytochemicals, B vitamins like thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid. Vitamins and minerals like these are necessary for preventing disease.
Brown rice is also higher in protein and fiber. 1 cup of brown rice contains 16 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber. Compare that to 1 cup of white rice which only has 12 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber. That’s twice as much fiber and 1/3 more protein in brown rice.
Depending on the type of rice, the nutritional values can have a much larger gap.
So this brings us to the next question. “Why is brown rice milled to create white rice in the first place?”
The same reason a lot of dumb things are still done today. Money.
Rice mills were brought to Asia by western traders and and when it came to exporting rice globally they told the locals that if they wanted to export rice it had to be milled.
But why mill rice? When the outer layers are stripped off your left with the endosperm (the most inner part of the rice grain that’s mostly just starch) and that’s all that is left. In this state white rice spoils slower, weighs less and attracts less insects. The product lasts longer and costs less to ship. This all means more profit for the traders selling the rice.
They are willing to sell an inferior product in order to make more money… which is just bad business and unethical.
The traders may or may not have know this but… you also need to eat more white rice to feel full compared to brown rice which requires less to feel full. Therefore you’re consuming an buying less by choosing brown rice.
So why are insects attracted to brown rice? The foods that we like because they are good for us… insects like them for the same reason. Insects love fruits and that doesn’t stop people from eating organic, pesticide free fruit. We know its better for us and that’s why we eat it. It also tastes better. In my opinion, brown rice also has a much better flavor.
So why do we continue to eat inferior, lesser quality white rice? Because a lot of people don’t know any better and they don’t know the truth.
Get your nutrition back and use brown rice. The only reason that people still make (mill) white rice today is that other people still buy it, not knowing they are paying money to have nutrition taken away from them.
In order to get processed foods off the shelves and off restaurant plates we need to stop buying it and require better. By buying food that is more nutritious for us we vote with our actions.
If you know someone that loves white rice share this article with them to help them out.
I wish you all the best in health.