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Is White Rice Unhealthy?

author image Jim Thomas
Jim Thomas has been a freelance writer since 1978. He wrote a book about professional golfers and has written magazine articles about sports, politics, legal issues, travel and business for national and Northwest publications. He received a Juris Doctor from Duke Law School and a Bachelor of Science in political science from Whitman College.
Is White Rice Unhealthy?
Rice paddies in Asia.

White rice is a perfectly healthy food, especially when it is enriched with vitamins, which is commonly done in the 21st century. It is low in calories, low in fats, high in carbohydrates and supplies a good amount of protein. White rice gets a bad rap, and perhaps deservedly so. When matched up against brown rice, In terms of nutritional value, white rice pales in comparison. .

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Production Process

After rice seeds are harvested, they are run through a huller or husker to remove the outer husks. At that point, you have brown rice. To create white rice, remove the germ and inner husk, and you are left with rice white grain that is then polished, usually with glucose or talc. Turning brown into white bread uses a similar process.

Nutritional Profile

One cup of cooked white rice contains just 204 calories and 4.2 g protein. There are 44 carbs in a cup of white rice and 0.44 g of fat, mostly in the forms of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated, the "good" types of fats. Sugars are low, just 0.08 g, and dietary fiber is low as well, at 0.6 g.

White Vs. Brown

In terms of dietary fiber, brown rice has seven times as much as white rice. It also substantially outshines white rice in terms of magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. However, the enrichment of white rice gives it an edge over brown rice in the amount of calcium, folate and folic acid. White rice keeps longer and cooks more quickly than brown rice


As the Green Living Tips website notes, it seems a little crazy to produce brown rice, then strip it of its grain to produce white rice, then add back synthetic vitamins that are lost during the production process. White rice is harder on the environment than brown rice, due to the extra energy it takes to produce it. However, it is a perfectly healthy food, so if you like white rice, there's no reason not to enjoy it.

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