Brown rice is a healthier choice than white rice for most people due to brown rice's higher fiber, magnesium and zinc content. According to ChooseMyPlate.gov, the milling process converts brown rice to white rice. This process removes the bran and the germ as well as fiber, vitamins and minerals. Most white rice in the United States is enriched, meaning iron and some of the B-vitamins including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folic acid are added to white rice to boost the nutrient content.
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Basic Nutrition Information
One cup of white rice contains 242 calories, 4.4 grams of protein, 53.2 grams of carbohydrate and 0.4 gram of fat. One cup of brown rice contains 218 calories, 4.5 grams of protein, 45.8 grams of carbohydrate and 1.6 grams of fat.
One cup of white rice contains 0.6 grams of fiber, while 1 cup of brown rice contains 3.5 grams of fiber. The bran and germ contain much of the fiber in brown rice. The daily requirement for fiber for adults up to age 50 is 38 grams for males and 25 grams for females. Fiber is important for the prevention of constipation and can help with glycemic control in diabetics, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.
One cup of white rice contains 24 milligrams of magnesium, while 1 cup of brown rice has 86 milligrams of magnesium, according to the USDA Food and Nutrient Database. Magnesium is a mineral important for bone health and helps you derive energy from the food you eat. The daily requirement for magnesium for adults is 420 milligrams for men and 320 milligrams for women over age 30. For adults ages 19 to 30, the daily requirement is 400 milligrams for men and 310 milligrams for women.
The enrichment of white rice with thiamin, riboflavin and niacin results in white rice having very similar levels of these vitamins as compared to brown rice; folate is the exception. One cup of white rice contains 108 micrograms of folate, while 1 cup of brown rice has only 8 micrograms of folate. Folate is important for the prevention of neural tube defects. The daily requirement for folate is 400 micrograms for adult men and non-pregnant women. Pregnant women require 600 micrograms of folate daily.
Zinc is an important mineral for a healthy immune system as well as wound healing, among other functions. One cup of white rice provides 0.8 milligrams of zinc, while 1 cup of brown rice provides 1.2 milligrams of zinc. The daily requirement for zinc for adults is 11 milligrams for males and 8 milligrams for females.