12 Impressive Benefits of Brown Rice

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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Brown rice is a super whole grain packed with a high degree of healthy components. The health benefits have been attributed to the high nutritional content, which proves helpful against several conditions such as obesity, diabetes, digestion, and heart issues.

What is Brown Rice?

Brown rice is an unrefined, unpolished whole grain produced by removing the surrounding hull of the rice kernel. The grain retains its nutrient-dense bran and germ layer. It is chewier as compared with white rice and has a nutty flavor.

Research published in the American Eurasian Journal of Agronomy points out the benefits of including brown rice is more robust in the diet. It also suggests that it is comparatively healthier than white rice when it comes to nutritional value.

Germinated Brown Rice

Germinated brown rice, also known as ‘sprouted brown rice’, is a healthier version of which can be prepared at home. It can be stored in dried form to increase its shelf life without affecting its advanced nutritional worth.

The high nourishing content of the germinated version is considered to be due to the presence of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). The germinated form can be obtained by soaking and sprouting of the brown rice in water for a specified number of hours. This method has been considered best for obtaining the maximum amount of GABA and elevating the levels of proteins and beneficial enzymes in the germinated variety.

The process of germination also leads to a significant increase in essential components such as ferulic acid, lysine, magnesium, potassium, vitamin E, niacin, vitamin B 6, thiamine, and dietary fiber. These nutrients are thought to contribute to better absorption during digestion and prevent intestinal irritation, inflammation, and allergies.

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8 Incredible Benefits Of Brown Rice | Organic Facts

Why Eat Brown Rice?

When compared to white rice, it is considered to be healthier and more nutrient-rich. Some of the stand out attributes are the quality and quantity of nutrients it offers. The process of milling that converts the brown grain into white rice strips away most of its nutritional value. It thus retains the immense treasure of healthful constituents. There are many varieties available in the market with their unique flavor, aromatic components, and varied concentration of fatty acids.

Nutrition Facts

Rice, brown, long-grain, cooked (Includes foods for USDA's Food Distribution Program)
Serving Size :
Water [g]70.27
Energy [kcal]123
Energy [kJ]514
Protein [g]2.74
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.97
Ash [g]0.44
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]25.58
Fiber, total dietary [g]1.6
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]0.24
Sucrose [g]0.24
Starch [g]24.79
Calcium, Ca [mg]3
Iron, Fe [mg]0.56
Magnesium, Mg [mg]39
Phosphorus, P [mg]103
Potassium, K [mg]86
Sodium, Na [mg]4
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.71
Copper, Cu [mg]0.11
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.97
Selenium, Se [µg]5.8
Thiamin [mg]0.18
Riboflavin [mg]0.07
Niacin [mg]2.56
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.38
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.12
Folate, total [µg]9
Folate, food [µg]9
Folate, DFE [µg]9
Choline, total [mg]9.2
Betaine [mg]0.5
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.17
Tocopherol, gamma [mg]0.05
Tocotrienol, alpha [mg]0.13
Tocotrienol, beta [mg]0.06
Tocotrienol, gamma [mg]0.46
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]0.2
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.26
8:0 [g]0
10:0 [g]0.02
12:0 [g]0
14:0 [g]0.01
15:0 [g]0
16:0 [g]0.2
18:0 [g]0.02
20:0 [g]0
24:0 [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.37
16:1 [g]0
16:1 c [g]0
18:1 [g]0.37
18:1 c [g]0.37
20:1 [g]0
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.37
18:2 [g]0.36
18:2 n-6 c,c [g]0.36
18:3 [g]0.01
18:3 n-3 c,c,c (ALA) [g]0.01
Tryptophan [g]0.03
Threonine [g]0.1
Isoleucine [g]0.11
Leucine [g]0.21
Lysine [g]0.1
Methionine [g]0.06
Cystine [g]0.03
Phenylalanine [g]0.13
Tyrosine [g]0.1
Valine [g]0.15
Arginine [g]0.2
Histidine [g]0.07
Alanine [g]0.15
Aspartic acid [g]0.24
Glutamic acid [g]0.53
Glycine [g]0.13
Proline [g]0.12
Serine [g]0.13
Sources include : USDA

Brown Rice Nutrition Facts

According to the USDA FoodData Central, this rice flour is rich in essential minerals such as manganese, iron, zinc, phosphorus, calcium, selenium, magnesium, and potassium. Its vitamin wealth includes B-vitamins – vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6, folate – vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) and vitamin K. It is a source of protein, and contains a good amount of fiber. Along with this, it is also a provider of fatty acids.

Health Benefits of Brown Rice

Brown rice may not appeal to your taste buds, especially if you have been used to white rice. However, the impressive list of its health benefits may just convince you to make slow and steady changes in your diet and strengthen your resolve to get healthier.

A closeup view of cooked brown rice with a spoon

Cooked brown rice Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Controls Diabetes

Brown rice can be beneficial for diabetics and hyperglycemic individuals. It has a low glycemic index, which helps reduce insulin surges and assists in the stabilization of blood sugar levels in the body. A comparative study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition revealed that it is rich in phytic acid, fiber, and essential polyphenols. It is a complex carbohydrate that helps in the slower release of sugar as compared to white rice.

Aids Digestion

Brown rice is a helpful staple that can be easily added to the daily diet to optimize the digestive system. The fiber present in it helps regulate bowel movements and keeps you feeling full. A study investigating the effects of brown and white rice during digestion found evidence that the bran layer on the former slowed emptying, thus bulking stool. Fiber content also brings relief from other conditions such as constipation and colitis.

Provides Antioxidants

According to a 2018 study, the more a grain undergoes milling processes, the more it tends to lose beneficial phytocompounds. Owing to this, the rice is bound to have more phytochemicals that exhibit antioxidant activity, especially when compared to white rice or other heavily processed grains.

The grain is also rich in flavonoids such as flavones and tricin, amongst others, which adds to its antioxidant activity. Antioxidants reduce stress, help get rid of toxins and keep some health conditions at bay.

Fights Obesity

Brown rice is one food shown to be instrumental in weight control for many people combating obesity. A study conducted in this regard revealed that whole grains such as brown and black rice, have positive effects on the body with respect to a reduction in body mass index and fat. They also enhance the activity of glutathione peroxidase, an antioxidant enzyme linked with elevating the levels of HDL (good) cholesterol in obese individuals. Another comparative animal research study also suggests the anti-obesity effects of the germinated variety.

Neuroprotective Effects

High cholesterol diets have been known to add to the risk of neurodegenerative disorders and impair cognitive performance. This rice can help cut down on cholesterol by replacing it with healthier nutrients such as fiber. A 2016 study concluded that germinated brown rice could offer neuroprotective action, thus protecting the brain from oxidative stress. This makes it especially beneficial for someone who is at risk of diseases such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.

Health benefits of brown rice infographic

Brown rice is a super whole grain packed with a high degree of healthy components.

Improves Maternal Health

Sprouted brown rice may be beneficial for the mental health of lactating mothers. Brown rice consumption showed positive results in the nursing women concerning a reduction in mood disturbances, stages of depression, and fatigue, according to an investigative study in the European Journal of Nutrition. It has also suggested that the consumption of this rice during lactation enhances the body’s ability to resist stress and improves the overall immune defense.

Boosts Heart Health

The benefits of whole grains over processed food for heart health are not unknown to many. This rice is a step further in maintaining the natural state of the grain. Germinated brown rice is a source of magnesium and proanthocyanidin, which can help reduce cardiovascular complications and also decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke. A Nurses’ Health Study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also suggests that overall increased intake of whole grains may have a protective effect against coronary heart diseases.

Controls Cholesterol Levels

This rice has no cholesterol content. It works well as a replacement for any cholesterol-rich options you are looking to cut back on in your diet. An investigative study performed on rats revealed that it possesses hypocholesterolemic qualities, thus regulating cholesterol catabolism. It also contains beneficial nutrients that help in lipid and glucose metabolism. More research is needed, but initial findings are promising regarding brown rice’s role in lowering cholesterol.

Protective Against Some Cancers

The rice may be helpful in the protection against some cancers, including colon cancer, breast cancer, and leukemia. One investigative study evaluating the chemopreventive properties of brown rice validated that its bran contains essential phenols such as tricin, ferulic acid, and caffeic acid. These phenolic components are valuable in inhibiting the proliferation of colon and breast cancer cells. Another study revealed the stimulatory effect of germinated rice of this variety on the induction of apoptosis and its inhibitory effects on the production of leukemia cancer cells. Furthermore, research has also validated the antitumor effects of dietary brans. These preliminary findings are positive and encourage the incorporation of this rice into a balanced diet for its potential chemoprotective effects.

Antidepressant Properties

According to one animal study, germinated brown rice may contain anti-depressant qualities that help combat anxiety-related disorders. An investigative study suggested that it contains essential amino acids such as glutamine, glycerin, and GABA. These inhibitory neurotransmitters facilitate a reduction in the allowance of messages associated with anxiety, depression, and stress in the brain, resulting in a relaxed state of well-being. Overall, an easy and healthy diet tends to have a positive effect on your mental health.

Helps Sleep Better

While melatonin is already present in your body, if you have trouble getting a good night’s sleep, you can use melatonin-rich foods such as brown rice to fulfill any deficit. A study notes that ‘all fractions of germinated rice are a rich source of melatonin and rice bran fraction is a good source of serotonin revealing the potential use of each milling fraction of rice grain.’

Maintains Bone Health

Brown rice is helpful for the maintenance of healthy bones, as it is rich in magnesium which, along with calcium, provides the bones their physical structure. Magnesium-rich, it may help mitigate bone demineralization and is beneficial for medical conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis.

How to Select and Store Brown Rice?

Brown rice contains essential natural oils that have the potential to go stale if stored for too long. It is advisable to check the expiry or ‘use by’ date to ensure freshness. Raw grain can be stored for up to six months in an airtight container at room temperature to keep the freshness intact. To extend its shelf life, it can be refrigerated.

Cooked rice should be stored with caution. Incorrect storage of cooked rice triggers the growth of bacteria called Bacillus cereus which can cause food poisoning irrespective of reheating. It should neither be stored at room temperature and nor reheated more than once.

It is generally hypoallergenic and does not contain any significant amount of disturbing elements such as purines or oxalates. If you are looking for more information on how to germinate brown rice, head right here.

How to cook brown rice?

Brown rice requires a longer cooking time and more water because of its outer fibrous coating. For one cup of rice, you may use two and a half to three cups of water. Prior soaking of brown rice cuts down the cooking time. Soaked brown rice would take about 35-40 minutes to get ready. Here is our detailed recipe on How To Cook Brown Rice?

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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