A "good" carb contains more fiber and complex carbohydrates than a "bad" carb, which usually has more sugar and fewer nutrients. A whole-grain food is considered a good carb since it is high in nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. Whole-grain foods like brown rice contain the entire grain seed, known as the kernel.
Nutrients in a Serving of Brown Rice
The recommended serving of brown rice is 1/2 cup, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A half cup of cooked brown rice provides 108 calories, 2.5 grams of protein, less than 1 gram of fat and 22.4 grams of carbohydrates, which includes 1.8 grams of fiber. Brown rice is also high in potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, niacin, thiamine, vitamin B-6 and folate.
Whole Grains vs. Refined Grains
A whole grain contains more fiber and nutrients because it contains all the edible parts of the grain seed, including the bran, germ and endosperm. Brown rice is a 100 percent whole-grain food. In 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allowed brown rice labels to use the whole-grain health claim, "Diets rich in whole grain foods and other plant foods and low in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers." White rice is a refined grain -- only the endosperm is left during processing. When processed, key nutrients such as folate, iron and fiber are removed. Refined grains, such as white rice, then have key nutrients added back after processing to make them an enriched grain.
What's So Good About This Good Carb?
Consuming brown rice instead of white rice can reduce your risk of some health concerns. Brown rice is higher in fiber than enriched white rice. Even though some nutrients are added back to white rice, fiber is not one of them. Fiber aids in digestion by reducing the risk of constipation. Fiber also plays a role in reducing your risk of colon cancer by minimizing the amount of time cancer-causing substances spend in your colon. Brown rice contains beneficial phytonutrients that can reduce your risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, lower your cholesterol levels and aid in weight loss or maintenance.
Keeping Brown Rice Tasty
Brown rice is inexpensive and versatile. Even eaten plain, it has a delicious nutty flavor. Since brown rice contains the oil-rich germ of the grain seed, it can become rancid faster. When buying, look for the sell-by date. Store it in an airtight container away from moisture. Usually, brown rice has a shelf life of six months.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Carbohydrates
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Brown Rice
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Basic Report: 20037, Rice, Brown, Long-Grain, Cooked
- USA Rice Federation: Rice: The Brown Version
- Prepared Foods Network: FDA Approves Health Claims for Brown Rice
- USA Rice Federation: Brown and White Rice FAQs
- USA Rice Federation: Storage