Brown rice offers you nutrients in greater quantities than those present in refined white rice or other refined grains. Determining exactly how much brown rice you should eat is a highly individualized process. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s current Dietary Guidelines offers you general guidance on healthy quantities of whole grain consumption.
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Whole Grain Consumption
Brown rice belongs to the grain family. The amount of grains you need varies depending on your calorie and nutritional needs. If you are dieting and limiting your calories to 1,200 per day, you only need 4 ounces of grains. A person consuming the standard 2,000-calorie diet needs 6 ounces of grains. A very active person who eats 2,600 calories can have 9 ounces of grains each day. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans indicates that of your daily grain allowance, a minimum of 50 percent should come from whole grains. If you determine that you should eat 4 ounces of grains a day, a 1/2 cup serving of cooked brown rice equates to 1 ounce of grains.
A cup of brown rice has 218 calories, according to the USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory. The 1 cup serving also gives you 46 g of carbohydrates, less than 2 grams of fat and almost 5 grams of protein. Brown rice contains the whole rice grain including the germ, bran and endosperm. The Minnesota Department of Health website explains that the bran gives you B vitamins, and minerals such as iron and magnesium. The middle part of the rice kernel provides many of the carbohydrates and proteins, and the innermost layer, the germ, has some fat, vitamins and the antioxidant vitamin E.
If you suffer from diabetes, you may find brown rice a healthier alternative to refined white rice because of the higher fiber content and its moderate glycemic index. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends that you set a goal of consuming 50 grams of fiber a day as a diabetic, and 1 cup of brown rice gives you 3.5 grams of fiber each day. Always consult your nutritionist before adding more of one particular food to your diet. In addition to holding benefits for diabetics, brown rice may help you with weight maintenance because of the filling, satisfying nature of the rice, the high fiber content and the relatively low calories.
Vary the whole grains you eat. If you need 5 ounces of grains a day, eat 2 ounces, or 1 cup from brown rice, and the other from grains such as cereal, steel-cut oats, whole wheat bread, popcorn or quinoa. Make your brown rice part of your meal by adding vegetables, beans or sodium-free seasonings. If you find it challenging to find the time to cook long-grain brown rice for 45 minutes, purchase quick-cooking brown rice or cook a large batch of brown rice at once, and freeze the rice in 1 cup servings.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Brown Rice, Cooked
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Diabetes Diet – Major Food Components; Harvey Simon, et al.; May 2009
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Now, You’re Cooking with Brown Rice!; Alice Henneman, RD