- White rice is less nutritious than brown rice, leading many people to include the latter as a better option in their diet..
- However, white rice can be more beneficial for certain people and in special circumstances.
- As for sugar, although brown is better than white, neither is recommended as part of a healthy diet.
Comparing all the countless rice and sugar options on the market today can leave you standing in the grocery aisle scratching your head in confusion.
From basmati rice, long grain and brown rice, to granulated and coarse sugar, brown sugar and muscovado, there is so much variety for all tastes and dietary needs.
Rice, a staple food for more than 3.5 billion people around the world, is particularly popular in Asia, Latin America and parts of Africa. According to Healthline, there are more than 7,000 varieties of cereal, ranging in different colors, shapes, and sizes. However, for many of us, the most commonly eaten types in South Africa – and many other countries – are white and brown rice.
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But when it comes to choosing between white rice and brown rice, many of us believe that brown rice has greater nutritional benefits. So is it true? We asked a dietitian.
The dietitian’s answer
Brown rice and white rice come from the same grain, but as an old News24 article explained, when brown rice goes through a refining process to remove the husk and bran (the brown stuff), it becomes rice. White. Unfortunately, this process removes nutrients such as iron, vitamins and magnesium.
Registered Dietitian, Toni Brien of Crazy4Food, explains:
Generally speaking, brown rice is more nutritious than white rice. Indeed, it is less processed and therefore contains more fiber, magnesium and antioxidants than white rice.
Brien adds that this hearty, nutty-tasting rice also has a lower GI (glycemic index) than white rice. The NHS explains that the GI is a rating system for foods containing carbohydrates and shows how quickly each food affects your blood sugar (glucose) levels when that food is eaten on its own.
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“[A lower GI] helps control blood sugar and sustain you longer,” says Brien. She adds that most varieties of brown rice have a low to medium GI, while most white rice has a medium GI. However, that doesn’t mean white rice is entirely bad for you. Brian says:
Both white rice and brown rice can be included in a healthy, balanced diet as long as portion sizes are controlled. In some cases, white rice is…better than brown rice, such as people with digestive issues who have trouble digesting large amounts of fiber.
Healthline also explains that white rice is often unfairly criticized. Earlier this year, the lead researcher behind a study said that “a diet that includes the consumption of a large amount of unhealthy, refined grains can be considered similar to the consumption of a diet containing lots of unhealthy sugars and oils.”
But there are cases where it can be beneficial.
For people with heartburn, nausea, and vomiting, or for people recovering from medical procedures affecting the digestive system, a low-fiber diet is beneficial, and white rice is often recommended in these cases. , because it is low in fiber, bland and easy to digest. says Healthline. He adds that pregnant women can also benefit from the extra folate found in fortified white rice.
News24 also explained that while too much white rice can lead to weight gain (due to its fast-digesting carbs), it makes a great post-workout meal because the fast-digesting carbs will be absorbed by your muscles to replace the energy you lose. during exercise.
Sweet talk: what about sugar?
As research is continually conducted on the health effects of the foods we eat, we are hearing more and more about the negative health effects of sugar. Figures indicate that global sugar consumption was just over 171 million metric tons in 2019-20, and is expected to rise to almost 179 million metric tons by 2023.
Research shows that when you reduce added sugar — the foods manufacturers add to processed and prepackaged foods — you’ll have much better overall health, News24 previously noted. On the contrary, a diet high in added sugars is linked to an increased risk of certain health problems, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, to name a few.
And, contrary to popular belief, brown sugar and white sugar are not significantly different when it comes to their nutritional value.
“When you look at white sugar versus brown sugar, if you want to narrow it down to nutrients, brown sugar, being less refined, has a few more micronutrients than white. [sugar]“, says Brian.
“However, they both have a high GI and aren’t very high in nutrients. So if you really wanted to cheat, then yes, brown sugar is better than white sugar, however, neither of them are recommended. for a healthy and balanced diet.”
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The same goes for muscovado sugar, which has a rich brown color, high moisture content, and caramel flavor.
“That sugar is just less processed, so…it has more nutrients, but still isn’t a good source of nutrients and is still sugar,” Brien explains.
In fact, added sugar should always be limited or avoided where possible, she adds.
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