Which Rice is the Healthiest?
Out of brown, red, black, and white, which rice do you think is the healthiest? As usual, the answer is “it depends”.
Most cultures eat white rice, which has had the bran and germ removed. The only culture that frequently eats brown rice are the Okinawans, but they soak and ferment their rice before cooking it. So why is that the case. The bran and germ are where most of the nutrients are contained, and they create the color of brown, red, and black rice. Unfortunately, the bran and the germ also contain phytic acid and lectins, which are anti-nutrients that binds up and robs us of nutrients and can harm gut health. Phytic acid and Lectins are the natures defence system to keep animals from eating the seeds. Don’t worry, whole grain rice is still okay to be eaten every now and then, but It can cause tooth decay and GI issues if eaten frequently.
In nature when a seed germinates, it converts the phytic acid into phosphorus that can be used by the new seedling. Phytase is the enzyme that breaks down phytic acid during germination, and during that process many of the good nutrients of the seed are made bio available. Normally, soaking grains for 24 hours prior to cooking activates enough phytase to reduce the phytic acid, but rice is low in phytase. You can get around this problem if you add a table spoon of fresh ground buckwheat or rye, which are both very high in phytase, to the soaking rice mixture. Fermentation can improve the nutrient content and further reduce phytic acid and lectin content. *Fun Fact. If Phytic acid is natures defense against predation, how do mice live almost exclusively on seeds? Their stomachs naturally produce extremely high amounts of Phytase!
It takes work to make rice more nutritious, which is why it’s no mystery that most affluent cultures eat white rice. When you remove the bran and the germ from the rice, you remove some of the good, but you also remove most of the bad. That being said, white rice is just easier to prepare and many prefer the taste.
So, what should you do?
If you eat rice on a regular basis, you should eat white unless you are willing to spend the time to prepare your colored rices properly-or eat mice with your rice, just kidding. It’s not hard to learn, but it takes a few extra steps and planning a day or so ahead. It might just be worth it, the Okinawans are the longest lived race on the planet. Regardless of which rice you choose to eat, cook it in advance and chill it for 12 hours to convert some of the starch to Resistive Starch. By doing so you reduce the absorbable calories of the rice by up to 40% and it helps feed good gut bacteria.
So which rice has the most nutrition? All things being equal and the rices are all prepared properly, Black rice has the highest nutrition content.