The Health Benefits of White Rice vs Brown Rice vs Black Rice

I'm a blogger and online business owner who writes on a variety of topics including health & wellness. I'm also a distributor with Herbalife (been with them off and on for years) and am extremely interested in anything related to living the best life possible by having a healthy knowledgeable relationship with food. Everything in moderation. Check out my Commentluv-enabled health blog.
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Health benefits of rice: white rice vs brown rice vs black rice

For years, the health benefits of rice, especially white rice, have been side-swiped by many health gurus who claim that it is responsible for obesity, diabetes and many human health ills. The truth is that rice is one of the healthiest options around for anyone looking to lose weight and build muscle.

Health Benefits of White Rice

That’s right. white rice has health benefits. For years, if not centuries, Asians have been eating white rice for many dishes and it’s no surprise that their instances of obesity and diabetes were lower than their western counterparts.


Two reasons: What’s being served with it and how it’s processed. Polished white rice is stripped of all the nutrients that make it a worthy and viable source of nutrition. That’s why a lot of the white rice in the stores are vitamin fortified because the polished rice is nothing more than refined starch. Natural, unpolished white rice has many health benefits including:

  • Protein – for every 150g, rice has about 5 grams of protein
  • Gastrointestinal – Because it’s low in fiber and easily digested, white rice is great for relieving diarrhea and even morning sickness
  • Muscle building – Muscles need amino acids to grow and rice is a great source
  • Overall energy – the body needs carbohydrates to function and white rice is an excellent source.

As far as a regular part of an healthy diet, the health benefits of (unpolished) white rice make it a viable option.

Benefits of Brown Rice

Brown rice is the talk of the town and, according to many in the health and wellness field, a much better option than white rice hands down. Brown rice comes when the outermost hull of the grain is removed and plenty of nutrients left. Brown rice has:

  • Fiber – it’s an excellent source of dietary fiber which helps to keep the colon healthy
  • Manganese – Keeps bones healthy and helps the people with insulin resistance maintain healthy blood sugar levels
  • Selenium – found in nuts, selenium helps to counter the effects of free radicals.
  • Magnesium – like manganese, it promotes health bones but it also helps with proper blood circulation

Brown rice is more nutritionally dense and has a flavor that some people don’t like; instead of boiling in water, some choose broth or even coconut milk.

So what is black rice?

Black rice is an heirloom rice that is black when raw but purple when cooked. The color is due to the presence of anthocyanin, the same pigment that is present in dark red, blue and purple fruits such as blackberries, blueberries and cherries. Anthocyanin is a natural anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory that is linked to lowering cholesterol and preventing chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. In addition to being high in fiber, black rice is rich in iron.

Of all three, black rice is the least known and least prevalent but its benefits are profound. Rice is a versatile food with many health benefits that’s a great source of energy. It goes well with a most forms of protein like fish, meats, beans and vegetables so it can be doctored. At the end of the day, the kind of rice you prefer depends on many factors including flavor and taste.

So which rice is right for you?

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  1. Twitter:
    Hi Dianne,
    Good write up on rice. For years I was eating white rice, thinking it was good for me until I started reading Dr. Weil’s books. Then I saw the real truth as you mention. White rice is stripped (processed) and unhealthy. So, I’ve been eating other kinds of rice for many years now. I even ask for different rice when eating out. I won’t eat white rice at restaurants.

    Thanks for the article!
    Rich Donahue recently posted..The Benefits Of Juicing BeetsMy Profile

    • Twitter:
      Thanks Rich. Dr Weil is great; I love his site. I never used to eat white rice when I lived in the US either and when I went out I would opt for brown or just veggies. Since I live here in Jamaica I do eat white rice. The white rice here is not polished, it tastes less empty, looks a little browner and it’s got some of the husk still in it. It’s a lot less processed and when we do eat it, it’s cooked with beans or peas so that adds proteins and nutrients as well. I like the flavor of white rice and always combine it with pumpkin or something else anyway. In any case, thanks for the comment!
      Dianne recently posted..Dealing With Multiple Sclerosis: What Is The MS Diet?My Profile

  2. Twitter:
    1. Wow. I didn’t even know black rice existed!
    2. Yesterday I was eating white rice with my Thai food and felt guilty for not making some brown rice. I’ve heard that white rice has almost no nutritional value. Glad I was wrong and can go guilt free with white rice every once and awhile.
    Julie recently posted..The Day I UnpluggedMy Profile

  3. Twitter:
    My Grand Ma’ used to cook the three type of rice , but black rice is not my favorite too dry for me :$

  4. Twitter:
    Ive never tried black rice before, never actually heard of it till now. I have been eating brown rice or years. I like the taste better the white rice I have always had it in my mind that is was healthier then white rice.
    Tanya recently posted..The Best WordPress Anti-Spam Plugins for 2012-2013My Profile

  5. Twitter:
    Good post. I’m like Tanya above I’ve never tried black rice or even heard of it.

    I’ll have to take a look into this.

    Why do you think they bleach rice white? What’s the point?

  6. Oh, Black rice ! Seriously never heard off.
    In case of our locality we have been taking white rice and felts relax after reading all this advantages. And yeah, I’am fit and fine ;) .
    chatung recently posted..Poem on Life : Oh, My LifeMy Profile

  7. Twitter:
    Black rice! Thanks for your post, I learned a lot of things indeed!
    I prefer eating white rice, I know it is not the best, but I try to add a variety of vegetables and meat to my meal.
    Dima Al Mahsiri recently posted..Wrinkles-10 Ways to Reduce Wrinkles on Face NaturallyMy Profile

  8. Luis Valaladez says:

    I enjoy eating both white and brown rice. But since I found out brown rice is actually has more nutrients than the polished white rice.. I agree that rice is an essential food that should be part of a healthy diet

  9. Great info. Thank you for sharing that to us :)
    sam recently posted..Fig focaccia recipe and ingredientsMy Profile

  10. Low cholesterol and less oily food is always good for health. Stay away from junk food.
    Himanshi recently posted..Mobile Version Of Blog. Why It is ImportantMy Profile

  11. Some people cannot help but eat junk food. Many prefer these food stuff coz of the sweetness in them. I consider it proper health or disciplined health if one considers eating, food with less cholesterol.

  12. Really interesting I didn’t know that about black rice. I’ll have to pick some up the next time i’m at the store great post!

  13. Twitter:
    Hey Frinds ! Thank your healty healthy and testy testy presentation. I love to eat white Rice. I will try to eat brown rice also, your ideas are really thankful.
    Googma Sansar recently posted..Moving Jobs Center Stage: WB Report 2013My Profile

  14. Hi Dianne
    well i am eating rice lot’s of years but i was not aware the qualities and varieties about rice. i am very fitness serious person few last months i was not taking rice because in that time my opinion if am taking rice it’s increase my fat level so i was avoid to eating rice. but now i read your article i sought out all misunderstanding. this article is very knowledgeable for me and so healthy or tasty.
    Thank You to sharing me this healthy and muscular article.

    • Twitter:
      I’m glad to hear that, Rishabh. I think rice can be a very integral part of your weight management routine as long as it’s done in moderation. Food is not the only parameter so I think you may have room to work. In any case, good luck with it and I’m glad you got some valuable information from it!
      Dianne recently posted..Quick List: 7 Easy Access Weight Loss FoodsMy Profile

  15. Twitter:
    Hey..Thank you for pointing out the different health benefits of different kinds of rice.
    Suraj recently posted..Brock Lesnar responds to Triple H at WWE Raw on 11/03/2013My Profile

  16. Twitter:
    Thanks for this article. I’m live in Vietnam and I can’t stop eating white rice for 2-3 days. When comparing with black rice I think white rice is better

  17. Twitter:
    Great comparison Dianne …

    Most of the times, I chose whole wheat items (like chapatis) to rice but when occasion demands, I like to have white rice. But how do we differentiate between polished and unpolished white rice?
    Salman recently posted..Nail Polish Designs: Choosing from the BestMy Profile

    • Twitter:
      Great question, Salman. I know for me, the rice I use has a brownish tint when it’s uncooked and the husks are still present which means it hasn’t been bleached or completely milled. Polished rice has neither; it’s really a bright white. When it’s cooked, polished rice tastes so starchy with no flavor. That’s one of the reasons why I just didn’t like white rice for a long time. Now that I have access to different variety, the taste is different and it complements a lot of the dishes better.
      Hope that helps
      Dianne recently posted..3 Major Health Benefits Of Rice Bran OilMy Profile

  18. Twitter:
    Excellent and informative post. I have certainly noticed that my catering customers have gradually insisted more and on brown, as opposed to white rice, over recent years.

    • Twitter:
      Hi Michael. I know the research is out there in favor of brown rice. I know that when I would go to Thai or Chinese restaurants, I would order brown rice. It may cost me a little more but I didn’t mind the flavor. Hope business is going well for you!
      Dianne recently posted..3 Major Health Benefits Of Rice Bran OilMy Profile

      • Twitter:
        Hi Dianne,
        We have many and varied Asian restaurants here in Perth and this is often reflected now in our customer requirements too, with the majority now asking for brown rice in their party menus.
        As you say, it can be a little more costly but it is worth the extra expense.
        Finally, thanks, business is ticking over, despite the tough times that we are all going through.

  19. Anil Bhogia says:

    tanks diane

    ,I think rice is modified to make it more available to the population. Anything in a natural form has a limited shelf life so to make it last, it’s processed. Unfortunately the nutrients that give it a limited shelf life are the ones we need. It’s an interesting cycle.

  20. Twitter:
    this is the first time i am hearing about black rice in my life.this is awesome and interesting too.your blog is addictive thanks for sharing your suggestions and ideas
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  21. Very good post! Brown Rice is a very good source of protein!

  22. Twitter:
    Hey Dianne,

    Really useful information, I was only aware of white rice. I didn’t know that there are even brown and black colored rice as well. I eat white rice since childhood and really enjoy it with various dishes.
    Shailender recently posted..Antenatal or Prenatal Caring Tips: Care during PregnancyMy Profile

  23. deepak mehra says:


    Really awesome article about health. I like to take rice. I think every Indian basic need of rice and given the difference between rice.

    Thanks for share with me!!

  24. Twitter:
    White Rice is the most prevalent almost everywhere in the world! Looking at rice, I read that in Nigeria there are places where “unprocessed” rice are planted and named after the region they are grown. The Ofada rice and Abakaliki rice are more nutritious than the common white rice.

  25. Septus Sestianus says:

    I think it is funny that people believe that brown rice is a separate kind of rice from white rice. As you mentioned it is just un-hulled white rice. To anyone who has not tried black rice, go to an authentic Thai restaurant, they use it in some deserts with coconut milk, amazingly delicious.

  26. Michael Franz says:

    I do eat brown rice but often make Jasmin rice for the kids. I assume that’s not a polished white rice but I never really looked into it. Does anyone know?

    • Twitter:
      Hi Michael, Since Jasmine rice is grown organically in Thailand, I would suggest finding a store like Whole Foods that could sells the real stuff.. I suspect that some US Jasmine rice may be polished white rice like you mentioned. If nothing else, try online. There are plenty of Thai suppliers online but they do have a tendency to sell it in bulk…like 20/25 pounds.
      Dianne recently posted..Cancer Fighting Foods: Jamaican Sorrel, Antioxidant PowerhouseMy Profile

  27. Twitter:
    Hi Soniya,
    You are so welcome. Itotally agree with you about Brown rice. It is great and it’s got a really hearty flavor. Rice is a staple in many cultures world wide so it’s good for us to just know what’s what and enjoy our food choices.
    Thanks for your comment
    Dianne recently posted..Cancer Fighting Foods: Jamaican Sorrel, Antioxidant PowerhouseMy Profile

  28. Twitter:
    @ Dianne. Most definitely! Then we can determine the nutrition value of what we eat. How are you today?

  29. Rice is a staple in many cultures world wide so it’s good for us to just know what’s what and enjoy our food choices. When it’s cooked, polished rice tastes so starchy with no flavor. That’s one of the reasons why I just didn’t like white rice for a long time. The rice I use has a brownish tint when it’s uncooked and the husks are still present which means it hasn’t been bleached.

  30. Twitter:
    @Dianne: I am thankful for life and the ability to enjoy it

  31. Calorie-wise, I believe it’s almost the same in brown and white rice. But since white rice has more fibre (and other good stuff), they will make you feel more full, easier/faster, so you might eat a little less of it.

    But overall, I think, if you just don’t eat too much rice, you will be fine.

    Best to avoid (or cut down!) all the other processed food/candy/etc that we stuff into our faces all the time, and eat more natural stuff.

    • Twitter:
      Hi Klaus, I think too much of anything is not good and you’re right about the caloric similarities of white and brown rice. I agree that we need to cut down on a lot of the food we eat and some we just need to drop altogether but, of course, that’s an individual choice we can make when we have some facts “at our back”
      Thanks for the comment
      Dianne recently posted..3 Major Health Benefits Of Rice Bran OilMy Profile

  32. This is the first time I hear about black rice. Thanks for sharing!

  33. Twitter:
    thanks for sharing this article, btw, Dianne can you share any information about some types of rice with of othe colors? Coz, i’ve seen the news about India women who have many types of rice. So curious that there are actually how many types of rice -3-
    Nugroho Nur Hakim recently posted..Obat Peninggi BadanMy Profile

  34. Twitter:
    Hi please tell as i am enginering student does not need enough calory diet which type of rice should i prefer white,black,or brown. Will be happy if you would tell.
    himanshu recently posted..Htc galaxy one a cool phone.My Profile

    • Twitter:
      Hi Himanshu, I realize I had added not hit reply. I know from personal experience how engineering students get little or no nutrition. I wish I could tell you that but it’s up to you. They all have their benefits, some people like brown, others love white, some love both, others haven’t heard of black rice…it’s what you prefer. I would recommend that whatever rice you choose, make sure you couple it with a protein (meat, beans) and vegetables which help to create more balance.
      Dianne recently posted..Cancer Fighting Foods: Jamaican Sorrel, Antioxidant PowerhouseMy Profile

  35. Twitter:
    I wish I could tell you that but it’s up to you. They all have their benefits, some people like brown, others love white, some love both, others haven’t heard of black rice…it’s what you prefer. I would recommend that whatever rice you choose, make sure you couple it with a protein (meat, beans) and vegetables. Thanks
    Dianne recently posted..Womens Health Foods: 4 Reasons To Scoop Some AvocadoMy Profile

  36. I love to eat white rice as I think it gives more calories and energy. After reading this post I like to also test brown and black rice, Never seen it before but I would like to test both. Thank you very much for this informative post on rice.
    Barun recently posted..Phen375 ReviewsMy Profile

  37. Katharina says:

    Hi Dianne, thank you for this article! It gives a great overview and does show that even white rice has benefits. I prefer brown rice/natural rice because its healthier, but from time to time I love having a cup of white rice just with natural butter :)
    Btw: A friend of mine who is into sports and bodybuilding couldn’t make his daily caloric need without white rice.

  38. i like white and brown rice but not black its to dry for me. I just check out your blog and I find it very interesting and informative.thanks for sharring

  39. Nice write up. We mix white and brown rice together. I haven’t tried black rice yet. Looking forward to it.
    Jason recently posted..Nitric Oxide and DiabetesMy Profile

  40. Mary Wei says:

    I love white and brown rice. Brown rice is crammed with many nutritional needs we need for the body. That’s why Japanese are so healthy as they consume much brown rice into foods. I’ve heard that pigs in Japan eat white rice, they eat only brown rice. :)
    Thanks for the information! Useful!

  41. I’ve never included black rice in my diet. Furthermore, have never seen it in the shops. But sounds like it helps with nutrition and a healthy diet, so I’ll be sure to check it out!

  42. Twitter:
    I have never heard of black rice. Is it similar to camargue rice?
    Cherry recently posted..This Week’s Special OfferMy Profile

  43. Twitter:
    Great work Diane, I read some of your articles and they seem really well researched! One thing that bothers me when reading about white rice though, is that you did not specify it comes from brown rice. Basically, brown rice is what is picked from the fields, but since it goes rancid so easily they strip the outer layers and voila! “white rice”. So, they have to compensate by chemically adding the lost nutrients back in. It’s really curious it has any nutrients at all!
    Adrian I. recently posted..Comment on Fibre Foods List by You’ll be able to Obtain Fiber Food | jumperquartz04My Profile

  44. when i was pregnant to my youngest baby, i tried brown rice for about two months. however, i experienced intense headache, usually leading to migraine. do you think it was due to brown rice?
    Ria Dancel recently posted..Dive Solana – AnilaoMy Profile

  45. Twitter:
    Great article on rice. Never knew how beneficial rice could really be. Never had black rice either going to have to try some!


  46. Twitter:
    Hi Alka,
    Thanks! It’s all about just knowing and understanding your food choices. I like white rice too and have no plans to stop eating it but we add other foods to it to naturally boost it’s nutritional value. I am with you!
    Dianne recently posted..Cancer Fighting Foods: Jamaican Sorrel, Antioxidant PowerhouseMy Profile

  47. Twitter:
    Thanks, Harish. Glad to hear it!
    Dianne recently posted..Cancer Fighting Foods: Guinea Hen Weed, The Anti-Cancer PlantMy Profile

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