White rice is the most common type of rice served in restaurants and sold in grocery stores, but brown rice deserves another chance on your plate. Not only is brown rice higher in fiber than white rice, but it also contains a healthy amount of iron, potassium and folate. Brown rice also may have health protective benefits that can help prevent certain diseases.
A 1-cup serving of brown rice contains 3.5 grams of fiber. Women should aim to get between 21 and 25 grams of fiber as part of a healthy daily diet, and men should try to eat between 30 and 38 grams; however, the average diet falls short of these numbers. Getting enough fiber can reduce your risk of intestinal annoyances such as constipation and hemorrhoids, but it also may lower your chance of developing conditions such as heart disease and cancer.
Zinc is an essential mineral that helps with wound healing and strengthens your immune system. The mineral enables you to taste, smell and see and also keeps your thyroid working properly. The daily requirement of zinc is 11 milligrams for men and 8 milligrams for women. A 1-cup serving of brown rice supplies 1.23 milligrams toward these goals.
A 2011 study published in the "American Journal of Hypertension" reports that eating brown rice may reduce your risk of heart disease. The protective benefits come from the outer coating of brown rice that is stripped away when manufacturing white rice. A study published in 2010 in the "Nutrition Journal" found that brown rice reduced the risk of colon cancer in rats. Another study published in 2012 in "Phytotherapy Research" found that fermented brown rice can inhibit the growth of colon cancer tumors in humans.
Eating Brown Rice
Replace white rice in your favorite recipes with brown rice. This simple change boosts your intake of fiber and other beneficial nutrients. Serve your favorite stir-fry recipes with a serving of steamed brown rice. Add cooked brown rice to vegetable soup, chicken soup or casseroles. Use brown rice in meatloaf to boost the nutritional value, or roll cooked brown rice in a tortilla with fresh tomato salsa for a nutritious burrito. Make red beans and rice with cooked brown rice as another way to add this healthy food to your diet.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture - National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Rice, Brown, Long-Grain, Cooked
- MayoClinic.com: Dietary Fiber - Essential for a Healthy Diet
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Zinc
- Phytotherapy Research: Extract of Fermented Brown Rice Induces Apoptosis of Human Colorectal Tumor Cells by Activating Mitochondrial Pathway
- Nutrition Journal: Germinated Brown Rice (GBR) Reduces the Incidence of Aberrant Crypt Foci With the Involvement of β-catenin and COX-2 in Azoxymethane-Induced Colon Cancer in Rats
Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.