White Rice:

Can White Rice Be a Healthy Food Choice?

By Dr. Ben Kim

For years, I believed that white rice should be avoided completely. I believed that it had very little nutritional value and that it contributed to constipation.

Over time, I have come to realize that white rice does provide useful nutrients, and that there are situations where white rice can be a better choice than brown rice for your health.

Here are some important points and guidelines on eating white and brown rice:

1. Since white rice is brown rice that has been stripped of some of its nutrients, brown rice is superior in its nutritional content. Specifically, brown rice is an excellent source of niacin (vitamin B3) and magnesium, a good source of thiamin (vitamin B1) and iron and a moderate source of protein, fiber and zinc.

2. White rice has less fiber and vitamins than brown rice, but is an excellent source of niacin and a moderate source of protein, thiamin and iron.

3. If you can eat brown rice without experiencing any abdominal discomfort, bloating, or gas, then it is a better choice for you than white rice because of its greater nutritional density.

4. If you experience abdominal discomfort or bloating after eating brown rice, it is worth your while to try eating white rice. Because of its lower fiber content, white rice is less abrasive to your intestinal lining than brown rice, a helpful feature if you have weak or damaged intestines. Many people who have colitis and/or problems with diarrhea find that they can digest white rice without any discomfort, while brown rice causes pain and gas production.

5. If you choose to eat white rice, be sure to eat it with plenty of cooked vegetables to prevent constipation. Fiber from well cooked vegetables does not typically cause irritation to a weakened or damaged intestinal lining.

6. If you are a diabetic or are at risk of being a diabetic, it is best to stay away from white rice completely because of the stress it puts on your blood sugar-regulating mechanisms.

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