This is the real difference between white and brown rice

We all know the struggle — you're standing in the Chipotle line, anxiously awaiting your overflowing burrito — but then you start to feel just a tiny bit guilty. Maybe getting brown rice will make it just a tiny bit healthier… right? That must be how it works. 

Most of us know that brown rice is considered the “prime” or healthier option when picking between white and brown, but not many of us actually know why.

Creative ways to cook rice
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Creative ways to cook rice

Parachute's Steak-and-Egg Bibimbap

The combination of white rice and sweet brown rice ups the ante in this Korean classic.

(photo credit: Alex Lau)

Rice Bowl with Fried Egg and Avocado

Brown rice—higher in fiber and other nutrients than its white counterpart—is the perfect vehicle for this quick, protein-heavy meal.

(photo credit: Peden + Munk)

Aromatic Red Rice

Like many whole grains, Bhutanese red rice can be cooked in a bigger batch ahead of time. Reheat by steaming or microwaving in a covered dish with a spoonful or two of water.

(photo credit: Christopher Testani)

Baked Minty Rice with Feta and Pomegranate Relish

If you’ve given up on stovetop rice methods, you’ll love this hands-off oven technique.

(photo credit: Alex Lau)

Wild Rice–Crusted Halibut

Puffed and pulverized wild rice is the new breadcrumb, coating any meaty white fish you like in a nutty, crispy exterior.

(photo credit: Peden + Munk)

Migas Fried Rice

Ready to get a little crazy? This dish is a mashup of Thai, Chinese, and Southwest cuisines.

(photo credit: Alex Lau)

Black and Wild Rice Salad with Roasted Squash

One of the prettiest ways to eat rice—and featuring seasonal butternut squash, to boot.

(photo credit: Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott)

Brad’s Campsite Jambalaya

This one-pan meal features chicken, sausage, and plenty of veggies—rice brings it all together.

(photo credit: Gentl & Hyers)

Spiced Pomegranate Rice

Make a big batch and pair it with everything from labneh to roasted chicken thighs.

(photo credit: Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott)

Sorrel Rice Bowls with Poached Eggs

Sorrel, a tangy, astringent green, is mixed right into the rice.

(photo credit: Gentl & Hyers)

Tomato Risotto

Finishing this risotto with tomato water in place of stock gives it a pure, bright tomato flavor.

(photo credit: Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott)

Spiced Fava Bean Soup with Rice and Tomato

The rice cooks right in the soup—no need to dirty another pot.

(photo credit: Gentl & Hyers)

Brown Rice Salad with Crunchy Sprouts and Seeds

It doesn't get much more virtuous than this.

(photo credit: Peden + Munk)

Turkey and Mushroom Risotto

Comforting, creamy, and kid-friendly: This is a risotto we could eat all week.

(photo credit: Alex Lau)


Essentially, white and brown rice were once exactly the same thing — before white rice was refined, it looked and tasted exactly like brown rice. However, brown rice still contains the hull and brans that actually make it better for you to eat and are full of proteins, thiamine, calcium, magnesium, fiber and potassium.

White rice, on the other hand has been stripped of these nutrients during the refining process, so manufacturers actually add unnatural synthetic vitamins and iron for marketing purposes. The nutritional value of white rice is close to zero.

Studies also show that replacing white rice with brown might reduce the risk of developing type II diabetes. Research has shown that eating 2+ servings of brown rice weekly is linked with a lower risk of developing type II diabetes whereas eating 5+ servings of white rice weekly is linked with an increased risk.

Brown rice is also associated with several other health benefits, such as healthier functioning of the cardiovascular, digestive, and nervous system. The antioxidants in brown rice help work to relieve cholesterol, stress and even some mental disorders. Because it’s high in nutritional content, brown rice is effective in helping reduce the risk of health issues such as obesity, cancer, diabetes and insomnia.

Although brown rice won’t immediately solve all of your problems (I wish), Chipotle will. Opt out the white rice for the brown rice in your burrito and pat yourself on the back for making a choice that’ll make your diet just that much healthier.

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