White Rice vs. Brown Rice
When my family first switched to eating a nutrient-dense diet back in 2005, we ate grains that had been traditionally prepared, such as brown rice that had been soaked before cooking to neutralize anti-nutrients. However, in 2012 when we were transitioning off the GAPS diet (which is a grain-free, starch-free diet), we found white rice to be much easier on digestion and less problematic overall than brown rice. I was having adrenal issues after the GAPS Diet, and I found that consuming white rice (and potatoes) in moderation really helped with my energy levels. On the flip side, brown rice was rather hard to digest, and it brought back some of our old complaints (such as 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."
Leftover White Rice is a Resistant Starch
In the years since we started eating white rice, even more information has come to light about the health value of white rice because, if it has been cooked and then cooled, white rice is a resistant starch. In simple terms, resistant starches are those that the body resists digesting in the stomach or small intestine, so that they reach the colon intact. Resistant starches have been shown to be beneficial because they:
do not result in spikes in blood sugar or insulin,
stimulate the good bacteria in the gut, and
can reduce inflammation and decrease permeability in the gut.
Leftover white rice, if re-heated at low temperatures to no higher than 130 degrees F, will maintain the benefits of resistant starch.
Arsenic in Rice
A few years ago, the internet exploded with news that rice contains the poison arsenic. While this issue merits some concern, the bottom lines are that white rice has much less arsenic than brown rice, and that rice grown in India and California have the least amount of arsenic. The amount of arsenic in a serving of white rice from India or California is well below the EPA's safe limit for daily arsenic exposure. Additionally, rinsing raw rice before cooking it removes some of the arsenic.
Making White Rice Even Healthier and More Delicious
By itself, cooked in water, I find white rice to be rather bland. I like to cook white rice with pastured butter and homemade chicken bone broth. This makes the rice taste fantastic and provides more nutrition.
Recipe: Nutrient-Dense White Rice
Makes 4 cups
1 cup white basmati rice (Royal brand is our preferred brand of basmati rice)
3 Tb butter, preferably from pastured cows
1 and 2/3 cups chicken bone broth, preferably homemade
1/2 tsp celtic sea salt
Place the rise in a mesh colander and rinse the rice well with plenty of water. Rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Drain well.
Combine the rice, chicken bone broth, and salt in a medium pot. Bring to a boil and skim off the foam. Discard the foam.
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.
Allow to cook over very low heat for 20 minutes. Then use a fork to take a little rice 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.
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.
Serve and enjoy! This rice pairs well with teriyaki chicken wings or