How Much Brown Rice Should I Eat A Day?

How Much Brown Rice Should I Eat A Day? Image

Rice is one of the most popular and commonly eaten grains around the world. There are different rice varieties grown in different parts of the world with varying nutritional values like basmati rice, jasmine rice, long grain, black rice, Nigerian ofada rice, short grain, Valencia rice, Arborio rice, wild rice etc. After harvesting, rice is usually brown but where the bran is removed, it becomes white in color.

Brown rice is not specifically a variety of rice. In other words, it can be any type of rice with the absence of the uneatable outer hull. Eating brown rice means that you are eating the rice as a whole grain with the bran and germ intact which gives it the brown colour.

How much brown rice should I eat a day?, how often should I consume brown rice?. If these are some of the questions you have currently, answers will be provided in this post as you read on.


So, how much brown rice should I eat a day?

According to HSPH, the 2015/2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating 6 ounces of 100% whole grains daily. 6 ounces of brown rice equals 1 cup of uncooked brown rice which is equivalent to 190g. However, your food preferences and calorie needs determines the quantity of brown rice you can consume daily.

Brown rice is an unpolished and unrefined whole grain from which only the outermost layer, the husk has been removed. Unlike white rice, brown rice has the two outer layers, the bran and the germ intact which is the main distinguishing factor. It has a nutty flavor and needs to be chewed a lot more before it becomes soft enough to swallow. It gets bad faster than white rice but is a lot more nutritious.

The processes involved in converting brown rice to white rice destroys most of the nutrients found in the bran and germ. The bran houses majorly the fiber and the essential oils. Not only is the fiber filling but it helps guard against heart diseases and gastrointestinal diseases. Studies show that foods rich in dietary fiber play a major role in cancer prevention. American Institute for Cancer Research recommends 30g of fiber a day for adults as part of a healthy meal to lower cancer risk. A cup of brown rice contains about 3.5g of fiber while an equal amount of white rice contains less than 1g.

Several years ago, brown rice was seen as food for the poor in Nigeria but now it is more expensive than white rice and scarse as well partly because people have come to realize the health benefits associated with consuming it.

Discover 12-Brown rice benefits

According to USDA national nutrient database, brown rice is rich in essential minerals like selenium, calcium, iron, zinc, manganese, phosphorus and magnesium. It also contains vitamin B1, B12, B3, B6, Folate and vitamins E and K. Brown rice is also high in fiber and antioxidants, is gluten free and contains complex carbohydrates.

According to a research done by the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), department of nutrition, they discovered that consuming five or more servings of white rice per week led to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, eating two or more servings of brown rice per week resulted to a lower risk of the disease. So the researches came to a conclusion that replacing 50g of white rice with the same quantity of brown rice per daily serving would reduce the risk of type two diabetes by 16%.

Brown rice is a better option compared to white rice in terms of the health benefits that it offers which include the following;

1. Improves Heart Health

The selenium found in brown rice boosts heart health. Consumption of whole grains like brown rice helps reduce the blockage of the artery due to plaque build up. This protective action reduces the risk of cardiovascular disorders such as hypertension. Studies carried out in this regard shows that the tissues surrounding grains of brown rice contains the component which works against the endocrine protein, Angiotensin II which plays a major role in the development of high blood pressure and arteriosclerosis.

Read also: 9 Simple Ways on How to Reduce Heart Disease Naturally

2. Rich in antioxidants

One can be protected from the damage caused by oxygen-free radicals in the body by an antioxidant found in brown rice. An antioxidant enzyme called superoxide dismutase present in brown rice can protect the cells from oxidation damage during energy production.

3. Boosts Digestive Health

Brown rice should be added to our meal plan as it helps maintain a good digestive system. The fiber content in it helps strengthen the function of the intestine and makes you feel full longer. The rich fiber present in brown rice also gives relief from and prevents constipation.

4. Helps control blood sugar level

If you are looking to maintain a healthy blood sugar level, brown rice is your best option. However, it is very useful for people with diabetes and hyperglycemia(low blood sugar levels). Brown rice is ranked low in the glycemic index and thus will not cause spikes in blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. The complex carbohydrates present in brown rice helps in the slow release of sugar thereby reducing insulin surges and stabilizing blood sugar levels in the body. For diabetics to harness the needed minerals and vitamins in their diet, the American Diabetics Association recommends choosing whole grains like unpolished brown rice over refined white rice.

5. Averts Obesity

Studies show that people who are obesed can be exposed to several health risks but one food that can help them fight obesity is brown rice. Consuming whole grains like brown rice may help overweight individuals reduce their body mass index because of its high fiber content. They feel fuller longer while eating fewer calories. Research has it that brown rice also strengthens the activities of an antioxidant enzyme, glutathione peroxidase, which helps to control the levels of HDL cholesterol in obese patients.

6. Regulates cholesterol levels

The dietary fiber in brown rice helps reduce cholesterol as well as move waste through the digestive tract. According to Harvard School of Public Health, eating wholes grains like brown rice instead of refined grains significantly lowers total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or bad) cholesterol, triglycerides, and insulin levels.

7. Strengthens Nervous System Functioning

Brown rice aids the brain and nervous system to function properly due to the presence of essential minerals like magnesium, manganese and vitamin B. The activities of calcium in the body is balanced by these essential minerals which regulates the nerve and muscle tone. The sudden surge of calcium into the nerve cells may be regulated by these minerals thereby keeping the nerves and muscles relaxed.

8. Prevents Cancer

Studies show that essential minerals such as magnesium, selenium, copper and phytochemicals found in whole grains like brown rice may protect against some cancers. According to a 2012 publication in the Journal of ScienceDirect, phytochemicals contained in whole grains like brown rice contain anti-cancer elements. Phytochemicals obtained through consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains have the capability to prevent cancer or interfere with cancer progression at various stages of its development.

9. Boosts Immunity

Brown rice is a good source of the B vitamins particularly vitamin B1 and B6. Vitamin B6 is important for the body’s metabolism and the production of new red blood cells which transport oxygen round the body. Metabolism decreases with deficiency in vitamin B6 and subsequently leads to hypothermia – a condition where the body looses more heat than it can actually produce. Hypothermia destroys immunity and reduces blood flow.

Eating whole grains like brown rice that is rich in dietary fiber helps keep the digestive tract healthy because most of the functions relating to immunity happens in the intestine. The bacteria and viruses that comes in contact with our digestive tract is taken care of by our immune system.

10. Helps in Preventing gallstones

Brown rice is an excellent source of insoluble fiber because it has its bran and germ intact. Consuming foods rich in insoluble fiber like brown rice can help prevent gallstones. A publication in the American Journal of Gastroenterology from studies carried out revealed that women who consumed foods high in insoluble fiber had a minimal risk of developing gallstones compared to those that did not eat foods rich in insoluble fiber.

11. Makes the bones strong and healthy

Magnesium, a nutrient found in brown rice is as well as calcium is required for healthy bones. The bones stores about two-thirds of the magnesium found in the human body. Magnesium balances the activities of calcium in the body through regulating the nerve and muscle tone, keeping you relaxed. However, if the body lacks magnesium, calcium gets free entry causing the nerves to get over activated resulting in excessive contraction. 21% of your daily requirement of magnesium is contained in a cup of brown rice which is good for bone health.

12. Reduces stress in breast feeding mothers

Brown rice is useful to breast feeding mothers due to the presence of a hormone stimulant that helps in breast milk production. Studies show that the consumption of brown rice during lactation strengthens the body’s ability to resist stress and improve overall immune defense. Also, pre-germinated brown rice could enhance lactating mothers mental health.

Can I eat brown rice daily?

Brown rice can be eaten daily because it has many nutritional benefits that go beyond aiding weight loss. It’s rich in fiber and contains healthy carbs that boost metabolism and promotes fat burn. Its low density makes you get full easily while consuming fewer calories. Brown rice is the best alternative to white rice.

I cup of brown rice calories

Though brown rice may be unpolished, unprocessed and unattractive in appearance, its nutritional values outshines that of white rice which has had its hull, germ and bran taken out. Studies show that 1 cup of cooked brown rice contains contains 216 calories, 44g carbs, 5g of protein, 3.5g of fiber and 1.8g of fat.

Disadvantages of eating brown rice

Brown rice is virtually safe for everyone. It is typically considered a healthier option when it comes to eating rice. You can eat as much as a cup daily if you are following a balanced diet but the bran of brown rice do contain some antinutrients such as phytic acid, phytate and may be higher in arsenic. Research has it that phytate inhibits iron absorption so if you have a special medical condition, seeking a medical advise on taking brown rice as your staple food is required.

Should we be concerned about the arsenic levels in rice?. Keep reading to know the truth about arsenic found in rice. All plants absorb arsenic but is more concentrated in leafy vegetables, grains, fruits and seafoods. Brown rice may be higher in arsenic than white rice. To some degree, we all are exposed to arsenic through environmental pollution, contaminated food and drinking water but they are usually found in small amounts.

Our major dietary exposure to arsenic are from fruits, vegetables, grains and seafood but significant amounts has been identified in rice and rice-based products. Arsenic is present in rice in large amounts than other crops because of the way it is cultivated especially when it is grown in arsenic contaminated soil or irrigation water.

Long exposure to arsenic over a long period of time can lead to health problems but steps should be taken to reduce our exposure to arsenic. Though studies has loosely linked the long term consumption of rice to incidence of cancer, it is only prudent that we minimize our dietary exposure to arsenic where possible.

Rice grown in certain parts of the world has higher levels of arsenic than rice from other parts. Studies show that rice from certain parts of the US and Europe are found to have higher levels of arsenic than rice from Asia. Rice is a major staple food in many parts of the world especially in Nigeria where it can even be eaten three times a day.

So instead of cutting down the intake of rice because of arsenic, its rather important we focus on the cooking methods that can help reduce the arsenic in the rice we take. Though the level of arsenic varies based on the type of rice, whether white or brown or where it comes from, there is a particular action when taken, goes a long way in reducing the arsenic in rice significantly by at least 50-60%.

According to Wikipedia, Scientists in 2020  assessed multiple preparation procedures of rice for their capacity to reduce arsenic content and preserve nutrients. At the end, they recommended a procedure involving parboiling and water absorption described in the steps below.

Step 1: Use high water to rice ratio. Add fresh water (4 cups for every cup of raw rice) and boil.

Step 2: Add rice and boil for another 5 minutes.

Step 3: Discard the water with arsenic.

Step 4: Add fresh water.( 2 cups for each cup of raw rice)

Step 5: Cook rice with low to medium heat with lid on until water is absorbed.

Advantages of using the parboiling with absorption method

  • Parboiled and absorbed method removed 54% and 73% arsenic from brown & white rice respectively.
  • Washing and pre-soaking prior to absorption cooking reduced arsenic in white rice only.
  • Brown rice retained more nutrients than white rice under absorption methods.
  • Absorption methods preserved micronutrient such as Zn in brown & white rice.
  • Considered safer for preparing rice for infants and children.

So the key to reducing the arsenic levels in rice is to cook it this way. The higher water to rice ratio you use in cooking the rice , the more you reduce the arsenic levels in rice.

Finally, the benefits of brown rice outweighs the potential negative effects of the antinutrients and arsenic. But the overall best way to enjoy your rice is to sprout them. So if you soak it in water for 4-20 hours, it begins the sprouting process and the sprouting process releases more minerals and nutrients and makes them more bioavailable. Additionally , soaking rice breaks down the phytic acid and makes you absorb the minerals better.

Was this article helpful?. What do you think about brown rice? What quantity do you eat in a day before now? Please leave us a comment in the comment section below.

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Paschal Achunine
Paschal Achunine
Paschal Achunine Is the founder of Health Emergency Initiative(HEI) for Indigent patients. HEI stands as next -of-kin to indigent patients in public hospitals and also for road accident victims.

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