Since 1995 - Non Profit Healthcare Advice

Basmati rice- white vs brown



I have been told that basmati rice is a healthy choice of rice. Is there any significant difference in choosing brown over white, with rgards to the health benefits?


Basmati rice is a healthy rice choice. You can choose either brown or white Basmati rice and in all versions I’ve listed below. In general, brown rice varieties have a higher fiber content. Brown varieties have all the nutrients of the original rice. White rice varieties have less fiber and may or may not have the nutrients of the original rice depending on whether it is enriched or parboiled or not. Here are some facts about rice: There are two primary types – dry and sticky. The Indian type is dry, flaky and easily separated when cooked. The Japanese rice is shorter grained, moist, sticky and firm when cooked. It has a higher amylopectin -a type of starch- content so produces a waxy starch. The drier rice has a higher amylose – another type of starch- content. When rice is harvested it is milled. Milled rice comes in the following forms that we humans eat:

  • Brown rice – first hull removed
  • Unpolished rice – Bran and germ also removed
  • Polished rice – aleurone layer (high fat) also removed
  • Enriched rice – polished rice fortified with vitamins and minerals that had been removed during processing. These vitamins and minerals are usually sprayed on so don’t wash enriched rice.
  • Converted/Parboiled rice – rice is cooked before milling, then is milled. This forces nutrients into the endosperm (the starchy portion of the rice kernel), gelatinizes the aleurone layer so that it isn’t removed in polishing the rice, and the vitamins and minerals aren’t lost.
  • Instant rice – Rice (usually brown, enriched or parboiled versions) is partially cooked, so cracks are created in the individual grains, which speeds future water absorption; then the rice is dried.

The glycemic index of rice can vary depending on the type of starch it contains and the amount of fiber. A study of the glycemic index of rice appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1992 (Vol 56, 1034-1036). High amylose content rices had lower GI values. If your definition of a healthy rice is one with a lower GI value, then Basmati rice is healthier than some other types, and brown Basmati rice will be healthier than white Basmati rice.

For more information:

Go to the Diet and Nutrition health topic.