Thursday, October 4, 2012

Is White Rice Better Than Brown Rice? (including a recipe for nutrient-dense white rice)


White Rice versus Brown Rice
Previous to our GAPS diet, my family ate grains that had been traditionally prepared, such as brown rice that had been soaked before cooking to remove anti-nutrients.  Now that we are transitioning off the GAPS diet, we have found white rice to be much easier on digestion and less problematic overall than brown rice. Brown rice seems rather hard to digest, and it can bring back some of our old complaints (like my joint pain). 

It took a bit of a mental adjustment for me to be willing to consume white rice.  Weren't all of the health benefits lost through the removal of the bran and germ from the rice? One conflicting opinion that I trusted was from Chris Kresser, an integrative medicine practitioner who is generally amenable to grain-free/paleo diets.  In his Personal Paleo Code, Chris writes that,
"Studies that have compared the amount of nutrients actually absorbed from eating white and brown rice have shown that humans absorb more nutrients from white rice.
Why? Because the “antinutrients” in brown rice...- like phytic acid - interfere with the absorption of the nutrients it contains. White rice doesn’t have that problem.
This is why I believe white rice is an acceptable food, and my experience with patients suggests that it is generally well-tolerated.
...White rice is safe to consume without any preparation. Whole rice is preferred, but rice noodles and other rice-based products are permissible in moderation."
With my adrenal issues, I have found that consuming white rice and potatoes in moderation really helps with my energy levels. By itself, cooked in water, I find white rice to be rather bland.  How strange that I am now having to acquire a taste for a refined food after years of eating whole foods! To make white rice taste better and even more nutritious, I like to cook it with pastured butter and homemade chicken stock.

Recipe: Nutrient-Dense White Rice
Makes 4 cups 
  1. Combine the rice, chicken broth, and salt in a medium pot.  Bring to a boil and skim off the foam.  Discard the foam.
  2. Reduce the heat and add the butter.  Once the butter has melted, stir once.  Then cover the pot and reduce the heat to very low.
  3. Allow to cook over very low heat for 20 minutes.  Then use a fork to take a tiny bit out of the pot and taste it.  If the rice is still crunchy at all, you may need to add another 1-2 Tb broth or water, and cook for a few minutes more. Do NOT stir up the rice during this step.
  4. Once the rice is nicely soft, turn off the heat.  Leave the rice covered for another 10 minutes, and then fluff the rice with a fork.
  5. Serve and enjoy!  We find it to be especially tasty with a pat of butter and plenty of salt.

27 comments :

Jenny L. said...

thank you for covering this topic! I started (more like re-started) GAPS about a month ago and your blog is of really great help.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing. Also starting to re-introducing back potatoes and rice. Do we not have to soak white rice as with brown rice?
thanks K

Sarah Smith said...

Nope, white rice does not have to be soaked!! The antinutrients have already been removed, so there is o reason to soak it.

Tara said...

Is this okay only after transitioning off GAPS? It's not allowed on the diet of course, but I thought I read something by Chris Kresser saying it was a "safe starch" as you indicated above, and I'm wondering if that means it could be tolerated while still on GAPS. Any thoughts?

Sarah Smith said...

According to the GAPS protocol, white rice would not be allowed because it is a starch. Like you mentioned, others see it as a safe starch (such as the Perfect Health Diet authors). For me, staying on strict GAPS longer was obviously leading to worsening of my adrenal problems, as I just couldn't seem to get enough carbs no matter what I did (well, okay, I could if I ate ice cream three times a day, but my body got tired of that relatively quickly).

So I am trying to find a balance between eating GAPS and including some starches like potatoes and rice. If I eat too many starches, my joint pain starts to come back. If I eat strictly GAPS, I start feeling like a zombie with no energy at all. Now, according to the GAPS protocol, this will NOT lead to me permanently healing my gut issues, based on the fact that compromised guts cannot properly digest starches so they tend to sit in the gut and feed the bad bacteria. But, for me, strict GAPS is no longer sustainable. I'm sure it works great for some people, but it is not a good long-term diet for me with my adrenal problems. (And I did strict GAPS for over 18 months before finally figuring out that the lack of carbs was giving me such intense low energy problems.)

Tara said...

Very interesting. I have adrenal issues as well and have joint pain/muscle pain issues also. Being grain-free has been very helpful for me, and it's not really any bother once you get used to it. It would be nice to be able to eat rice, but of course I don't want it fermenting in the gut. :( I just did an IgG allergy test and am waiting on the results. I ate a small amount of rice in preparation for the test and will be interested to see the results. I'm wondering... if the test doesn't show any reaction to rice, maybe it's okay even on GAPS? Hmm, not sure. Are potatoes considered a safe starch as well? It's interesting, though, that it's so easy to want to chow down on those things - eating plenty of them and then going back for more. Not sure if that's a good thing!

LPJohnson said...

I make risotto using nishiki rice, butter, & bone broth, and whatever other ingredients I feel like.

Anonymous said...

should you not soak the rice before you cook it?

Danielle said...

We have been eating white rice instead of brown too, lately (mostly because we feel so good following other PHD advice that I thought it was worth a try). It is weird reaching for a bag of "that refined stuff." :) We also LOVE rice with some mashed/chopped up hard boiled eggs, and plenty of butter. How are you doing with white potatoes?

Anonymous said...

I found a way of preparing brown rice that has made it much easier on my stomach. I couldn't eat it before because it was so difficult to digest. But I have no problem after using this technique several times and getting a really enriched fermenting/soaking liquid: http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2009/04/new-way-to-soak-brown-rice.html

He also says (in the looong list of very fascinating comments) that when he can't soak brown rice this way, he eats white rice. I have followed that advice and have found it to work the best. When I make white rice I cook it in coconut milk or chicken broth to add some additional nutrients to it.

Sarah Smith said...

I was using the method on Whole Health Source to soak the brown rice, so that apparently doesn't work well enough for us. But I'm glad it works that way for you!

Sarah Smith said...

Technically, for GAPS you have to eliminate all starches, regardless of what the allergy test says. Potatoes are considered a safe starch for the Perfect Health Diet, and new potatoes are one of the first foods that would get reintroduced after GAPS.

Sarah Smith said...

No, there is no need to soak white rice. The whole point of soaking is to reduce the anti-nutrients in the outer portion of the rice, but that portion has already been removed from white rice.

Sarah Smith said...

White potatoes are fine for me. Overall, though, I still have to watch how much starch/potatoes/rice I eat, else my joints start getting a little painful again. I really have to find a balance between eating enough carbs to keep my adrenals happy and not eating too many that will make my joints hurt.

Mary Korte said...

my understanding is that you should still soak it to cut down on any arsenic that may be in it. Soak it for an hour, drain and rinse then cook as usual.

Meryana said...

This article suprised me much. I just starts to replaca white rice wit brown rice few days ago for losing weight purpose and to balance my hormonal system, also did some moderate exercise. And these 3 days i have join pain, dunno whether it is resulted from the exercise or brown rice effect. What do you think?

Sarah Smith said...

I can't say for sure for your body, but brown rice is definitely worse for my joint pain.

Corporate events said...

Really appreciative article. The rice information is better and informative . Thanks for posting it.

Jasmin said...

thanks for sharing :) I really like white Jasmine rice :D

Foong Yin said...

Hi sarah,on the topic of soaking brown rice overnight to remove phytic acid,can u advise if the soaking process will also remove nutrients in the rice since we throw away the water used to soak it

Sarah Smith said...

Hi Foon Yin,
Soaking brown rice overnight doesn't remove the anti-nutrients; rather, it starts the sprouting process in the whole grain and that process neutralizes many of the anti-nutrients. At the same time, it also makes other nutrients more available. So soaking makes the anti-nutrients less and the nutrients more.

Anna said...

I've been on GAPS for 3 months, and I really feel like a zombie. I recently introduced carrot and apple-juice(home pressed), and I had more energy for one week - then I got a zombie again. I'm scared that my digestive problems will come back, I already had alot of bloating this last zombie week, and I'm wondering if I am ruining the healing of my gut by eating things before I've gotten better/stepped up on another step(I'm still on step 1). I am wondering if I should try to eat potatoes and rice - I've really wanted to/craved it, but held back. How much is too much/how much rice/potato should I eat? Thanks;) Love

Sarah Smith said...

Hi Anna,
You might find this article helpful. It is about managing/preventing adrenal fatigue while on GAPS.
http://nourishedandnurtured.blogspot.com/2013/01/gaps-diet-and-adrenal-problems_12.html

Ben said...

I switched from white rice to brown rice and oats 6 years ago and began to lose weight from a healthy BMI(23) to one(16) that is grossly underweight.I've been doing intensive cardio exercise daily for over 20 years and have been maintaining the idle weight until the switch.Can it be the antinutrients in oats and brown rice?Note:no abnormalities found on medical checkups.Kindly advise.Thanks.

Sarah Smith said...

Hi Ben,
I actually think that daily intensive cardio is not a good plan. Cardio can be very hard on the body in the long term. There is a good article about that here:
http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-evidence-continues-to-mount-against-chronic-cardio/

In addition to the low weight, are you also showing other signs of adrenal/thyroid issues such as cold hands/feet, insomnia, irritability, poor energy, etc? If so, you might benefit from reading Matt Stone's Diet Recovery book as well as this post about adrenal fatigue:
http://nourishedandnurtured.blogspot.com/2013/01/gaps-diet-and-adrenal-problems_12.html

Ben said...

Thanks a million Sarah.I read through your recommended readings and was surprised to learn this term 'adrenal fatigue'.It describes exactly all my signs and symptoms and it started,as mentioned by a website,when my mother passed away 6 years ago,giving rise to a prolong high level of stress....I'm now zooming in this area and doing more studies on this.Thank you Sarah,happy new year 2014.

Sarah Smith said...

Glad to be of help! I wish you much healing and a Happy New Year!