Brown rice… the underrated and under consumed cousin of the white rice. White rice leads the way in terms of popularity, most people opt for white rice because it ‘tastes better’ (apparently) and is generally ‘fluffier’ and more appetising than brown. Of course this is subjective and depends on personal preference, but white rice wins the race in most UK households.
Rice is great, it’s a source of starchy carbohydrates which means it’s slower releasing and better for overall blood sugar control. The speed that a carbohydrate source releases its sugar is known as its glycaemic response, the slower that response the better over the course of a day. There is a time and place for a fast release of sugar, such as that from a high glycaemic index carb (or simple carb) like table sugar, rice cakes, white bread, potato or…white rice. These fast releasing carbs are great for before or after a workout, but are considered rather erratic for overall energy wellbeing over the course of a day.
The difference between the brown and white rice grain
It all comes down to the degree of processing they undergo. Now don’t get me wrong, more processing doesn’t mean it’s not as good, we’re not talking about the ‘processed foods’ we as a nation over consume, but in the context of rice though, the greater the degree of processing the less grain is left in the rice. Brown rice is pretty much the rice grain in its original form, it is also known as wholegrain rice for the fact that it still contains the whole of the grain. The ‘wholegrain’ refers to the bran and germ remaining, these are removed to make white rice but are where all of the fibre and oils are found in rice. Brown rice is basically the whole rice grain with just the outer husk removed. This is the reason why brown rice doesn’t keep for as long in your cupboards, the fat in the bran and germ can go rancid which is one of the reasons for white rice’s popularity in the earlier days.
Brown rice and body fat
Rice may be a carbohydrate based food, but it has an important role in weight management, particularly fat loss. Carbohydrates are broken down to glucose, this glucose enters your blood stream and is delivered to your organs and muscles for energy. Insulin acts as the key to unlock your organs and muscles to allow the glucose in, otherwise (such as in Diabetics) the glucose will continue to flow freely in the blood. If your body receives a large amount of carbohydrate with very little fibre (like white rice) then the sugars are released into the blood very quickly which means the muscles may not be able to take it all in resulting in a ‘back-up’ of glucose.
This glucose back- up has to be stored, and is done so in the form of glycogen. If glycogen becomes saturated then the remaining glucose is converted to fat via fatty acid synthesis, this results in the storage of triglycerides as adiposity AKA a fat belly!
Other benefits of brown rice
The fact that brown rice has the bran and germ remaining means they are a good source of fibre as well as starchy carbs. The fats and fibre help to slow the release of the carbs in rice which reduce the risk of excess carbs being stored as fat, which would otherwise increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes.