With so many different types of rice, it can be tricky to figure out which one you should be eating. White rice, whole-grain rice, brown rice, parboiled rice. The list goes on and on. Here's what you need to know about parboiled rice versus brown rice.
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Brown Rice: A Whole Grain
According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, brown rice is considered to be a whole grain, because apart from the inedible hull, which is removed during processing, all the other layers of the grain remain intact. The outer bran layer has plenty of fiber, the middle germ layer is rich in nutrients and the inner endosperm is the starchy heart of the grain, which provides carbohydrates that your body uses for energy.
Unlike white rice, which is stripped of its bran and germ layers and therefore loses the majority of its fiber and nutrition, brown rice is one of the healthiest forms of rice. In addition to fiber, brown rice is a good source of B vitamins, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium, according to the USDA. The bran and germ layers also give brown rice its distinctly nutty flavor and chewy texture.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics notes that whole grains like brown rice keep your hair and skin healthy and reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Read more: 7-Day Brown Rice Diet
Parboiled Rice: Retained Nutrition
Short for partially boiled rice, parboiled rice is also known as par cooked rice and converted rice. According to the University of Arkansas, par cooked rice is made by soaking whole grains, steaming them under pressure and drying, milling and polishing them. This process forces nutrients from the hull back into the grain, so that they are not completely lost while processing.
Slightly harder than regular rice, par cooked rice grains look golden. They take a little longer to cook than white rice and need more water per cup of rice. Each grain stays separate, giving you fluffy rice.
Parboiled Rice vs. Brown Rice
If you're trying to decide between parboiled rice versus brown rice, both are considerably healthier than white rice. In terms of nutrients, there is a slight difference between brown rice and parboiled rice.
While they're similar in terms of carbohydrate, fiber, protein, fat and calorie content, brown rice is a better source of nutrients like magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and folate. On the other hand, parboiled white rice contains more calcium per serving, according to the USDA.
Brown rice comes out ahead in terms of nutrition; however, if you're not fond of the taste and texture, you can opt for parboiled rice instead.
Parboiled rice is also available in brown rice form; after it is parboiled, if only the hull is removed and the bran and germ are left intact, you have parboiled brown rice. Parboiled brown rice is more nutritious than parboiled white rice but doesn't contain as much magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and folate as brown rice, according to the USDA, so between the two, you're better off with regular brown rice.
Another difference between brown rice and parboiled rice is the cooking time. Brown rice takes around 40 minutes to cook, while parboiled rice takes only 20 minutes.
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: “Rice”
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: “What Is a Whole Grain?”
- University of Arkansas: “Choosing the Best Rice for Your Cooking Needs”
- USDA: “Rice, Brown, Long-Grain, Cooked”
- USDA: “Rice, White, Long-Grain, Parboiled, Unenriched, Cooked”
- USDA: “Rice, Brown, Parboiled, Cooked”
- Michigan State University: “Using and Storing Rice”