Rice, brown

Why Eat It
Nutrition Chart

Why Eat It

Rice is a staple food in much of the world, and for good reason: with the addition of some vegetables and perhaps a bit of meat or fish, a bowl of rice makes a tasty, satisfying, and nutritious meal. Brown rice, which has only the outer hull removed, retains--along with its bran layer--an impressive variety of vitamins and minerals, including niacin, vitamin B6, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, and even some vitamin E. Brown rice contains only a small amount of protein, but that is of good quality because of its relatively high level of the amino acid lysine. Because the bran is not milled away, brown rice contains four times the amount of insoluble fiber found in white rice--a prime reason for eating brown rice instead of white.


Long-grain: Long-grain brown rice stays firm when cooked. It is suitable for most western and Indian recipes, and makes a fine side dish.

Medium-grain: Medium-grain rice, found in Latin and some Asian recipes, is the main ingredient in commercially produced cold rice cereals and cakes. Its grains are plumper than those of long-grain rice, and it works well in soups and stews.

Short-grain: Short-grain, or sticky rice, is most often found in Asian recipes; because it sticks together when cooked, it's easier to eat with chopsticks.

Sweet rice: Sweet rice, or mochi rice, is a Japanese rice (also grown in the U.S.) that is used for desserts. It cooks in about half the time required for long-grain brown rice.

Aromatic rices: This category includes domestic rices such as Texmati and imported versions, including the renowned Indian basmati and Thai jasmine rices. Aromatic rices gives off a nutty-sweet fragrance as they cook, and have a sweet, delicate flavor.

Quick-cooking: Quick-cooking brown rice has been precooked so that it's ready in about 10 minutes.


Most markets carry packaged brown rice, and many offer several varieties. Health-food stores generally feature several types of brown rice, domestic and imported, in packages and in bulk.


Because brown rice and rice bran contain natural oils, both can turn rancid on the shelf. Check for usability dates on packages. When buying in bulk, choose a store that has a high turnover.


Oil-rich brown rice will turn rancid at room temperature. If stored in a tightly closed container in the refrigerator or freezer, it will stay fresh for up to a year.


Packaged rice is generally clean and needs no rinsing before cooking. However, rice sold in bulk should be rinsed to rid it of dust or dirt. (A brief rinsing will not affect the nutrients in brown rice.) Pick over bulk rice to remove defective grains and debris.

Cook brown rice in an amount of liquid that will be completely absorbed during the cooking time. If it is cooked in excess liquid and then drained, valuable nutrients are lost with the cooking water.

Check the package directions on packaged rice, and check occasionally when cooking; if most of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is not done, just add a little more boiling water. For most types of brown rice, use 1 cup liquid to 1/2 cup raw rice. Long-grain rice takes about 35 to 40 minutes to cook, short grain, about 45 minutes.

Soaking brown rice overnight cuts the cooking time dramatically. Soak the rice in the measured amount of water you'll need to cook it, and cook it in the same water, adding more if necessary. If you drain the rice after soaking and cook it in fresh water, nutrients will be lost.

Nutrition Chart

Brown Rice/1 cup cooked

Total fat (g)
Saturated fat (g)
Monounsaturated fat (g)
Polyunsaturated fat (g)
Dietary fiber (g)
Carbohydrate (g)
Cholesterol (mg)
Sodium (mg)
Niacin (mg)
Vitamin B6 (mg)
Manganese (mg)
Magnesium (mg)
Phosphorus (mg)
Selenium (mcg)

Date Published: 04/21/2005
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