Ledbury Gym owner Ollie Chapman aims to answer the question…
White rice or brown rice, which is best?
While nutritionists would tell you brown rice is a wholegrain and therefore much better than brown rice, is this true? Most of china eat white rice and seem fine and are statically healthier than the UK and US.
As with everything its important to remember, a lie repeated a thousand times is still a lie. On that note lets have a look and see which is better, the truth might shock you.
The first thing to establish is, exactly what is the difference between white rice and brown rice? Its simple white rice is just polished brown rice, the wholegrain part of the rice is polished until its removed.
Does this mean white rice has less “goodness” than brown rice? Not necessarily, sometimes less is actually more.
All plants and animals have a protection mechanism from predators and in rice this is in the outer part of the grain, the part which is removed when it becomes white rice. Brown rice protects itself in three ways with substances in the husk or whole grain element.
One is Phytic acid which can bind to minerals and stop absorption of nutrients. Next are plant lectins which can damage our gut lining and increase the chance of leaky gut syndrome and finally with enzyme inhibitors.
Phytic acid is not a good thing, it’s a substance that actually binds to minerals in our body. It then chelates (pulls) them out of our body instead of our body digesting them. This leaves less of the minerals contained in the whole grain rice as it also binds to existing minerals in the body, leaving people even more mineral deficient than before it was eaten.
This is why during the palaeolithic period humans had thicker denser and stronger bones. Once humans started eating grains such as brown rice, the phytic acid would bind to minerals in our bodies and decrease the levels in our bodies, stopping us having the minerals we needed to develop such strong and healthy skeletons. (1)
Many studies adding phytic acid to foods also support this. For example when phytic acid was added to white bread in levels similar to that naturally found in whole grains, magnesium absorption was decreased by around 30%. Considering 57% of the US population do not meet the RDA for magnesium, reducing the amount absorbed by eating brown rice isn’t good for anyone. (2,3) Phytic acid has also shown to decrease absorption of zinc and iron.
The next big problem with whole-grains, in this case brown rice, is its plant lectins. In the book Food and Western Disease research shows that plant lectins can increase the permeability of our intestinal barrier and a protein substance found in wheat called gliadin can also give a similar effect.(4) This can then lead to molecules of partially digested foods entering into the blood stream. Normally these molecules are too large to pass through our gut ling, but they can pass through the weaker more permeable gut lining and causing all sorts of problems.
Unfortunately, this is not the end, grains have one more trick up their sleeve, this is
the effect they can have on our ability to digest protein and starch. Within whole grains there are enzyme inhibitors, which deactivate our own enzymes pepsin and amylase needed to break down starches and protein.
If foods are not digested at a reasonable speed, they have the
ability to ferment and increase bacterial overgrowth, causing bloating and farting.
Without going into too much detail, this can increase the risk of many symptoms
associated with Celiac, crohn’s and IBS. As you can see, whole-grains such as brown rice are not really your friend after all. What about the myth that brown rice is more filling than white rice because its a slower release of energy?
A study where white rice, brown rice and many other foods were compared to see which ones gave the most fullness over 2 hours. The results showed that white rice is actually more filling than brown rice by about 6%. Although not a big difference, it is still more filling. In the fight against overeating and excess body-fat, feeling fuller for longer is always a good thing, even if its just a little bit, which white rice is.(5)
In conclusion, we see that brown rice leaves us mineral deficient, can increase the chances of a leaky gut and inhibit digestion. However because white rice is not a wholegrain, it doesn’t do any of this. Finally it’s more filling than brown rice, I even think it tastes better as well.
So the final verdict is enjoy your white rice and throw out the brown. (a final note for brown rice lovers. You can put brown rice through a fermentation process to decrease the phytic acid content of it. This decreases the levels phytic acid.)
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