Is Brown Rice Really that Good for You?

Remember when you heard that you should eat brown rice because it was good for you? But even your mom preferred Minute Rice or some other quick cooking rice over the crunchier brown rice. And the white rice seemed to look better on your plate. Now you’re cooking for your own family, your parents, or for yourself, and you are wondering…what’s the best tack to take? The data shows us that most people eat white rice. And rice is the most popular grain in the world. Does this mean we should follow the leader? Do what most others do? Or is there another story to consider? The fact is that brown rice is terrific tasting, filling and more nutritious than any white version you have been taught to eat. You just need to cook it long enough with tasty aromatics.

In a recent workshop I compared white Arborio (also called risotto rice) to brown basmati rice prepared risotto style. I discovered that the workshop attendees didn’t have a favorite. They enjoyed both types equally. The Arborio was a bit creamier because of the nature of the rice itself—very absorbent- and because it had more starch but the brown rice was excellent as well in its own way. Further the brown rice is dramatically better for you.

According to a study conducted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, brown rice is the top choice in terms of specific nutritional benefits. In fact all rice is harvested as brown rice. A milling process is used to remove the hull and the bran from the brown rice to make it white rice. However, this process also removes most of the nutrients from the rice.

The commercial rationale for transforming brown to white seems to be Madison Avenue’s assumption that consumers want to cook quicker and faster with less fuss and bother even when the tradeoff may not be worth it. But would you still prefer white rice over brown if you knew the dramatic nutritional difference?

I discovered a number of significant reasons for preferring brown rice. A Harvard University study found that by eating just 50 grams of brown rice a day, type 2 diabetes can be lowered by 16%;It also offers many cardiovascular benefits such as slowing the progression of cardiosclerosis among postmenopausal women. Further brown rice is a good source of manganese and selenium. It prevents weight gain, lowers cholesterol, provides phytonutrients, lowers the risk of Metabolic Syndrome and childhood asthma, and promotes good bone health. The degree to which each of these elements work to your benefit may vary. But overall it is clear that brown rice is your best choice for health. Below I have created a recipe for brown rice that is delicious, nutritious and very tasty.

Brown Rice With Green Peas, Ginger, Mushrooms & Berries

Ingredients Serves 6

  • 1 pound green peas
  • 2 cups brown basmati rice prepared pilaf or risotto style
  • ½ cup crimini mushrooms (funghi)
  • about 8 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons shallots
  • ½ medium size yellow onion diced
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Parmesan reggiano, freshly grated to taste
  • 2 teaspoon diced fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate berries


Cook green peas in a pan of salted, boiling water for 3-5 minutes then drain and reserve.

Bring the stock to a boil. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a skillet, add the peas and mushrooms and cook 2-3 minutes then set aside.

Melt the remaining butter in a separate 6 quart pot , add the onion, shallots, ginger and cook over low heat until soft,stirring over low heat for 3 minutes.

In the same pot stir in the basmati brown rice and cook until the grains are coated in fat for about 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, and then add the peas. Add a ladleful of the hot stock stirring until it has been absorbed. Continue adding the stock. When the rice is al dente, (12-14 minutes) stir in the mushrooms and the pomegranate berries. Slowly shave shards of Parmesan reggiano to taste—about 1-2 ounces. This is really tasty and good for you too.

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