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Ending the long Debate – By Dev.

I still recall the Cadbury advertisement from when I was between the ages of 13 and 14, which warned: "Waste waste waste" if you don't add Bournvita to your milk, the calcium in the milk will be lost. Vitamin D being a precursor for the absorption of Calcium. The Advertisement claimed that their product helps in better absorption of calcium as their product is fortified with vitamin D.     

An average person gets enough vitamin D from sunlight and home-cooked food. The majority of commercially available milk is also fortified with vitamin D before being put on the market. Following a lawsuit against Cadbury, the advertisement had to be taken down. This is a common application of the scare strategy.

Marketers frequently employ scare tactics like this to persuade consumers to purchase one product over another.

I frequently encounter the question, "White rice or brown rice, which is better," in my capacity as a food technologist and nutritionist.

The answer is quite straightforward: whichever is available. But allow me to explain this in order to defend it.

So what is rice?

One of the most widely consumed grains worldwide is rice, also known as paddy. Global rice consumption increased from 437.18 million metric tons in the 2008/2009 crop year to approximately 509.87 million metric tons in the 2021/2022 crop year. (Total global rice consumption 2021/22 | Statista )

Rice or Paddy is usually grown in flooded fields, meaning they require up to 2-3 inches of standing water. China is world’s largest producer of paddy followed by India. Despite china being the largest producer its requirement cannot be fulfilled domestically and thus China has to import large quantities.

(I'm only telling you this to give you an idea of the industry's market size, profits, and financial status.)

Nutritional Value of Rice

Rice is primarily consumed as a source of carbohydrates, because of its high starch content, to better understand how starch is made, consider the following: Think of glucose as small individual units (Bricks) and starch as a wall made of those bricks.

Now rice is further divided based on type of starch present – Sticky Rice and Non- Sticky.

Basmati is a type of non-sticky rice

Japanese Sweet Rice is a type of sticky rice, but are not limited to this.

Sticky rice is usually digested quickly compared to Basmati Rice (Non- Sticky) and the structure of Starch contributes to it. (1)

Sticky or non-sticky, Brown or white- Rice have same calories, i.e... 100 gm provides the consumer with 28-30gm of carbs.

Now let’s talk about Brown Rice vs White Rice – Age long debate.

Brown rice is how rice naturally occurs; it has a layer of brown husk ( (bran and germ) on it, giving it the name brown rice, as opposed to white rice, which is polished, processed, and stripped of its covering, giving it the name white rice.. Quality, taste, and shelf life are all improved by doing this. As the majority of minerals and vitamins are frequently found in the bran and germ, this processing results in a reduction in the nutritional value of the rice. White rice is typically given an enrichment before being sold, as a result.

When discussing "healthy rice," most people focus on the GI (Glycemic Index), but overlook the GL (Glycemic Load).

What is GI and GL?

The Glycemic Index (GI) is a scale that assesses the amount of carbs in a food from 0 to 100. Pure glucose was given an arbitrary value of 100 because it absorbs very quickly. (2) 

Simply said, it tells us how the quality of carbs, as well as the volume of food, will react metabolically when they are digested by the body. A higher GI score often indicates that more simple carbohydrates are available in food commodities.

The GI scores are as follows:

• low GI foods: 55 or less

• medium GI foods: 56–69

• high GI foods: 70 or above

So now we know what GI is and how it works let’s take a look at the factors that can affect the GI of the food –

Cooking – it tends to increase the GI – cooking tends to break the complex structure of carbs thus sugars are available more abundantly.

Processing – Example Fruit juice vs Whole Fruit. When processed the accompanying fiber is removed thus the GI increases ( also large quantities of sugar are added to processed juice so that might as well contribute to it)

Ripeness – Mature fruits/ ripened fruits tend to have higher GI, The GI of the banana or Pineapple increases as it ripens.

Combination a carbs is eaten with – (Most Important) meaning what other Food source is combined with the Carbohydrate.  

What is GL?

The glycemic load of a food is how much each gram of carbohydrate raises blood glucose levels. Because carbohydrates are composed of glucose (a type of sugar), they release sugars into our bloodstream upon digestion.

The higher the GI, the more sugars are available to be released into the bloodstream, spiking blood sugar levels, and vice versa. Thus GI and GL are directly related, a GL greater than 20 is considered high, a GL of 11–19 is considered medium, and a GL of 10 or less is considered low.

The GI is the amount of sugar available, whereas the GL is the effect on blood sugar levels...

Let’s take an example to understand this better –

100 gm of watermelon contains 5-6gms of available carbs, now based on type of Sugar (carbohydrates), Watermelon is a high GI food (72), meaning simpler sugars are available and can be digested readily whereas the GL of the watermelon is {(72*5)/100=} 3.6, Since watermelon is 70-80% water and only 5-6 gms of Carbohydrates are present per 100gm, thus the GL is low indicating that watermelon does not spike blood sugar levels to extreme contrary to the popular belief.( Make sure to control the portion size.)

                  Pathway 1      

Store the item in Adipose (Fat) Tissue

                  Pathway 2

Use the item as energy

The body prefers Pathway 1 when the consumed food item has a high GI and GL value, while it prefers Pathway 2 when those values are low.

So which is better?

The first three of the mentioned factors are beyond our control, so I advise reading food labels whenever you go shopping, but the fourth is very much within our control. We can balance the scale in our favor by combining high-GI foods with low-GI foods.

Some will argue that because bran and germ contain vitamins and other essential minerals, brown rice is healthier. While having the outer covering gives brown rice an advantage over white rice, the nutritional difference is minor while the price difference is significant. (Since super food market is based on scaring common population)

Table 1- (3) shows the nutritional comparison.

Table 1- (3) shows the nutritional comparison.

Phytic acid is another interesting compound found in Brown Rice. Phytic acid is an anti-nutritional compound found in a variety of crops that can actually inhibit our bodies from absorbing certain nutrients. (I'm certain you're hearing this for the first time).

Returning to the original question, which is better? And I said at the start that whatever rice you get is the best for you.

99% of the population will never eat rice alone; instead, we will combine rice with chicken, beans, vegetables, pulses (all of which are high in fibre, fats, proteins, and carbs), and the GI and GL value of the meal will be reduced.

Let me give u an example

If a person eats white rice alone (GI- 64, and GL= 19.2), they will experience a sudden spike in blood sugar levels. White rice is theoretically poison and a bomb for the diabetic population, but when combined with beans, the GI and GL fall (4). This happens because beans are a low GI and GL food, so the combined GI and GL of the meal is very low. Additionally, unlike white rice, which is just carbs, proteins and fibre are also present, so the meal is balanced.


For years food companies have used GI to scare the public into buying brown rice at a much higher price. My advice would be to always aim to eat well balanced diet and make sure to control the portion size as it’s the dose that makes poison. 


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