I was at Chipotle the other day and the girl in front of me said "look...they have brown rice now. It's better for you." She proceeded to order her bowl with DOUBLE brown rice. Obviously there is another issue in that story where Americans think just because something is "healthy" you can eat as much as you want, but I'll only stick to one topic.
This story got me thinking though...why do most people think brown rice is healthier? If you look at the nutritional content of brown and white rice they are identical. Same macronutrients and fiber content. I know when I was into bodybuilding it was believed that the brown rice digested slower and was lower on the GLycemic Index, but since getting into paleo I learned about all of the anti-nutrients brown rice has over white. I don't eat a ton of rice now but when I do I clearly choose the white over brown.
So what's the deal....why do most Americans think brown rice is better that white rice and how did this myth start?
Most americans are idiots. That being said
1) Brown rice does have more fiber and a lower glycemic index last time I checked. But, on both counts it's pretty negligible, especially in the context of a mixed meal with protein and fat (both will lower GI). I eat brown rice because I prefer the taste, but I will also eat white rice if it's placed in front of me.
I'm only eating a small amount (~100-200kcal at a time) of rice, so I don't really worry about antinutrients. If I was eating half my calories from brown rice, then it might be something worth worrying about, but such a diet is unhealthy for a whole host of reasons.
2) Most people have a tendency to think 'Hey, I ate something healthy, now I can do something unhealthy because I earned it.' There was a study where participants were given yogurt and told it was either low or full fat. Those told it was low fat ended up eating MORE calories through the rest of the day, even though the yogurt given to both groups was the same. This is another reason cardio fails for many people. They think running for 20 minutes means they earned a milkshake, but a 200kcal run << 1000kcal milkshake.
So, in the context of a balanced diet and assuming mild amounts of rice, brown rice or white rice don't really matter. Just pick the one you prefer and can handle well. If brown rice upsets your stomach, go white. Just keep in context the big picture. Having 1 vs. 2 bowls of rice is MUCH more important to weight loss than brown vs. white.
Because they've been constantly misled into believing that whole grains are healthy, that because refining some foods removes essential nutrients, it must follow that refining ALL foods removes essential nutrients. Keep in mind, most people don't know what an antinutrient is; they've never heard of phytic acid and believe that gluten is a vital protein.
I also eat white over brown, but brown rice does have far more nutrients.
People are afraid of phytic acid but that can be reduced (and the good stuff increased) by proper germination.
also, phytic acid is an antioxidant and binds iron, which many of us have far too much of. Lucas Tafer wrote a great blog recently, maybe he'll chime in here.
edit: With all of this being said, I'm sure chiptole is not germinating their rice
Well, it's not really a myth. Brown rice does have more fiber and other nutrients than white rice. The advantage of white rice is that it is easier to digest and it doesn't have phytates (or it has fewer, not really sure on that). Generally speaking, if you are going to eat grains the less processed they are the better. However, of the processed grains, white rice is one of the best choices.
Rice bran is AFAIK richest source of magnesium in the world. Also, if you rely heavily on rice, its better to eat it whole grain. Beriberi (B1 deficiency) was discovered by relying too much on white rice.
I don't know much about toxins in whole rice tbh.
Brown rice has more nutrients than white rice. It also has more phytic acid, and that's probably good for those with a nutrient rich diet, like... us. That said, if you are a poverty-stricken Thai rice farmer eating a zinc deficient rice-based diet, stick with white rice. (That example, discussed by the WAPF, is where I believe the white rice is better than brown rice MYTH crept into the paleo world).
There is probably a case to be made that "brown rice" has been deliberately associated with the organic-whole-healthy image, too. With food, like every other consumer good, it is mostly about proper marketing. And, of course, it has got novelty character.
Because it is? Almost all of the nutrients in any grain are in the bran (outside of the grain), and brown rice is brown because it still has this bran. It has a pretty good nutritional profile for a grain. This doesn't mean that you should have double servings of it, but for those that eat some grains, brown rice (especially prepared fermented) is not a bad option.
I find that among all grains, I tolerate rice the best. Kurt Harris (from the Archevore) seems to agree.