White, red or brown rice? Which one to choose?

Rice is one of the most important foods in the world and, worldwide, rice accounts for 50% of all the calories consumed by human beings. Rice is not just rice, though; there are over 40,000 different varieties of rice cultivated, including pearl, basmati, long grain and short grain. You can also buy rice in a variety of different colours, including red, white and brown. The big difference between the coloured rice and white rice is how it has processed, and that affects the colour, the taste and the nutritional content of the rice. So, if you ever wondered what the differences are between red, white, and brown rice, here is a quick guide for you.

1. White rice

White rice is the most processed of all the rices. The husk and the bran are removed by milling and then the grains are polished to make them shiny and white. The complete removal of the husk and bran means that white rice contains far less of the essential nutrients that red and brown rice.

2. Brown rice

Brown rice has been partially processed, so that the bran remains intact around the kernel. Brown rice is far more nutritious than white rice. It contains more fibre, and is generally considered to be far healthier to eat. The term ‘brown rice’, can be applied to a large number of different types of rice as an indication of the fact that it has the bran that has not been milled away.

3. Red rice

Red rice is similar to brown rice in both the way that is processed and in its nutritional value. Red rice will have been partially hulled, and the red colour comes from the variety of the rice that has been used. The term red rice is also sometimes used to describe wild rice.

4. White rice lasts for longer

Even though white rice is not as nutritious as brown or red rice, one of the reasons that it is so popular is that it lasts a long time in storage. Because most of the fats that were contained in the bran have been removed, white rice will last for about five years, whereas brown or red rice will go stale within about six months.

5. White rice is cheaper

White rice is mass produced all around the world, which is one of the reasons that it is so much cheaper than red or brown. The other reason that it costs less is its longer shelf life. Because white rice lasts for so long, it can be stored in bulk, and slower, cheaper, methods of transportation can be used to deliver it around the world.

6. Brown and red rice will provide you with long term energy

The milling process of white rice means that what is left is basically starch, and starch is very quickly metabolised in the body to form sugars. Refined, white rice can create a spike in blood sugar levels, whereas brown and red rice will provide a long term source of energy that is released into the body gradually.

7. Enriched white rice is not as good for you as coloured rice

In an attempt to overcome some of the nutritional shortfalls of white rice, some manufacturers enrich their product by artificially adding vitamins and minerals. Don’t be fooled by this, because enriched white rice still contains far fewer nutrients than coloured rice. White rice also often contains other artificial additives too.

8. Red and brown rice taste better

Obviously taste is a matter of personal preference, but the coloured rice’s have a stronger, nuttier flavour, than white rice does. If you have been eating the refined white rice all your life, you might at first, find the taste very different, but the nutritional benefits outweigh the having to get used to new flavour.

9. Red and brown rice have a chewy texture

Another difference between the highly processed white rice its coloured cousins, is the texture. Brown and red rice still have the bran left, is that gives you more fibre and it makes the rice chewy in texture.

10. The nutritional benefits of brown and red rice

The differences in the nutritional value of brown and red rice, when compared to white rice, are huge. The coloured varieties of rice provide you with fibre, thiamine, magnesium, selenium, iron and protein, whereas white rice is predominantly made up of simple starch. Red rice also has the added benefit of containing an antioxidant called anthocyanin, which is what gives the rice its red colour. Overall, then, there seems to be little doubt that red and brown rice is far healthier to eat than white, but they are more expensive and they won’t last forever in your cupboard.

Stay happy and healthy!

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