Brown rice has nutritional edge over white

Contact Susan Nitzke, 608-262-1692,

Madison, Wis.–Rice is enjoyed as part of traditional cuisines around the world and is a staple food in many Asian countries. White rice is chosen more often than brown rice, but that’s a choice that people would do well to change, says Susan Nitzke, Cooperative Extension nutrition specialist and Professor Emerita at the UW-Madison.

A recent study from Harvard University showed that people who eat white rice five or more times a week are more likely to develop diabetes than individuals who eat rice less often. “The same study showed that eating brown rice does not contribute to diabetes risk and may actually reduce a person’s risk of developing diabetes,” says Nitzke, who points out that Harvard’s findings were verified by a 2012 analysis of data from other population-based nutrition studies.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating at least half of your grain foods in the form of whole grains rather than refined grains such as white bread and white rice. According to Nitzke, brown rice has many nutritional advantages including higher levels of dietary fiber, magnesium, vitamin E and lignans, which are called “phytonutrients” because of their antioxidant and other health-promoting functions.

Brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice. Nitzke says that if you’re in a hurry, pre-cooked or “instant” brown rice is an economical and convenient form of whole-grain brown rice.

A number of tips for cooking and storing brown rice are available from the University of Nebraska’s “Cook it Quick” newsletter available online at

For more information on eating brown rice and other whole grains, contact your local county Extension office or visit the MyPlate website fact sheet on whole grains:



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