15 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. It extends its beneficial effects to much of the body, including the heart, digestion, brain, bones, muscles, cholesterol, and blood pressure.

The health benefits have been attributed to the high nutritional content in brown rice, which proves effective in various medical conditions such as cancer, obesity, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders, and insomnia. Brown rice is also thought to have anti-aging qualities attributing to the presence of ferulic acid, an antioxidant that helps in the prevention of skin aging. It is also rich in folate, an essential nutrient during pregnancy for the healthy growth of the fetus.

What is Brown Rice?

Brown rice is an unrefined, unpolished whole grain produced by removing the surrounding hull of the rice kernel. Its 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 up the benefits of including brown rice is more robust in the diet. It also suggests that brown rice is way better than white rice when it comes to nutritional value.

Germinated Brown Rice

Germinated brown rice, also known as “sprouted brown rice”, is another popular form of brown rice. 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 brown rice is considered to be due to the presence of gama-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 brown rice.

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.

Watch Video: 8 Incredible Benefits Of Brown Rice

Why Eat Brown Rice?

It is considered by many that brown rice is superior to white rice. Brown rice’s stands out attribute are the quality and quantity of nutrients it offers. The process of milling that converts brown rice into white rice strips away most of its nutritional value. Brown rice thus retains its immense treasure of healthful constituents. There are many varieties of brown rice available in the market with their unique flavor, aromatic components, and varied concentration of fatty acids.

Brown Rice Nutrition Facts

Nutrition Facts

Rice, brown, long-grain, cooked (Includes foods for USDA's Food Distribution Program)
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]70.27
Energy [kcal]123
Protein [g]2.74
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.97
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]25.58
Fiber, total dietary [g]1.6
Sugars, total [g]0.24
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
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]0
Thiamin [mg]0.18
Riboflavin [mg]0.07
Niacin [mg]2.56
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.12
Folate, DFE [µg]9
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]0
Vitamin A, IU [IU]0
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.17
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0
Vitamin D [IU]0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]0.2
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.26
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.37
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.37
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0
Cholesterol [mg]0
Caffeine [mg]0
Sources include : USDA
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, brown 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 health-supportive vital fatty acids.

Health Benefits of Brown Rice

The introduction of brown rice in the diet brings tremendous health benefits discussed below.

Controls Diabetes

Brown rice can be beneficial for diabetics and hyperglycemic individuals. It has a low glycemic index, which is helpful in reducing 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. The American Diabetes Association also recommends nutrient-dense brown rice over white rice for diabetics in order for them to obtain the requirement of essential vitamins, fiber, and minerals in their diet.

Provides Antioxidants

Brown rice contains powerful antioxidants, which help protect against damage caused by oxygen free radicals. One of the important antioxidants it contains is an enzyme called superoxide dismutase, which protects the cells from oxidation damage during energy production. A research study published, in the Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences, suggests brown rice exhibits superior radical scavenging activity. It aids in the prevention of various oxidation-mediated diseases such as coronary heart diseases.

May Reduce or Mitigate 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 rodent research study also suggests the anti-obesity effects of germinated brown rice.

A closeup view of cooked brown rice with a spoon

Possible Neuro Protectivity

A 2013 research found that germinated brown rice’s antioxidant and anti-apoptotic properties may help in the prevention of neurodegenerative complications such as Alzheimer’s disease. Sprouted brown rice is a functional food that contains helpful components that may inhibit a harmful enzyme called prolyl endopeptidase, associated with Alzheimer’s disease as per research in the Journal of Food Science Technology.

Lowers Stress in Lactating Women

Sprouted brown rice may be beneficial for the mental health of lactating mothers. Brown rice consumption showed positive results in the nursing women with respect to 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 brown rice during lactation enhances the body’s ability to resist stress and improves the overall immune defense.

Enhances Digestive Health

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

Boosts Heart Health

Brown rice is rich in selenium, which is beneficial for a healthy heart. Consumption of whole grains, such as brown rice, have been found to provide protective action against cardiac disorders, such as hypertension and vascular diseases. One study conducted in this regard suggested that the tissue surrounding the grain of brown rice contains a component which acts against the endocrine protein angiotensin II, which plays a major role in the development of high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.

Controls Cholesterol Levels

Brown rice is a great option for maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol due to the presence of naturally occurring oils. An investigative study performed on rodents 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 cholesterol-lowering.

Protective Against Some Cancers

Brown rice may be helpful in the protection against some cancers, including colon cancer, breast cancer, and leukemia. This beneficial effect can be attributed to the presence of potent antioxidants and high fiber content. The fiber content present in brown rice has the ability to bind itself to harmful cancer-causing toxins in the body. This prevents the toxins from attaching to the walls of the colon and eliminates them from the body.

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 brown rice 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 brown rice brans. These preliminary findings are positive and encourage the incorporation of brown rice into a balanced diet for its potential chemoprotective effects.

Boosts Nervous System Functioning

Brown rice may be beneficial for the smooth functioning of the brain and nervous system, owing to the presence of B-vitamins and essential minerals, such as manganese and magnesium. These essential minerals balance the activity of calcium in the body and help in the regulation of nerves and muscle tone. Vitamin E present in it also plays a vital role in preventing various brain diseases caused due to oxidative damage.

Anti-depressant Properties

According to one rodent study, germinated brown rice may contain anti-depressant qualities that help combat anxiety-related disorders. An investigative study suggested that germinated brown rice 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.

Relieves Insomnia

B-complex rich foods are considered by some to be helpful in providing relief from insomnia, as they are natural sources of the sleep hormone melatonin. Brown rice is one of these foods. It may enhance the quality of sleep by relaxing the nerves and increasing the sleep cycle. While more research is needed on this topic, initial investigations are promising.

Boosts Immunity

Brown rice is loaded with significant quantities of vitamins, minerals, and essential phenolic components which help boost the immune system of the body. It nourishes the body, accelerates healing, and enhances its ability to fight infections.

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 brown rice may help mitigate bone demineralization and is beneficial for medical conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis.

Culinary Use

Rice is a staple food across the world. Brown rice is available in many forms such as long grains, which are perfect for stir-fries, salads or pilafs. Short grain brown rice has a soft and sticky texture perfect for molds or puddings. Sweet brown rice can be served deliciously for desserts. Brown rice syrup is considered as a sweetener with a nutty, and buttery flavor to baked goods and hot drinks.

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 brown rice 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 brown 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.

Brown rice is generally hypoallergenic and does not contain any significant amount of disturbing elements such as purines or oxalates.

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.

Earn brownie points for your health with 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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