Many people shy away from cooking (and therefore, eating) brown rice because it takes more time to cook than white rice. When you compare the food label of white versus brown rice, it might not look that much different at first.
But there’s lots of reasons to swap your white rice for brown. For starters, brown rice is less processed than white rice, so it retains more of its nutrients. Like other whole grains, brown rice is a complex carbohydrate that contains fiber, magnesium, copper, and selenium. Foods containing fiber boost satiety, so you get less hungry in between meals. The fiber in brown rice has also been found to help lower blood cholesterol.1 In addition, studies show that including just two (1/2 cup) servings of brown rice per week in place of white rice may lower the risk for type 2 diabetes by up to 16%.2 Brown rice is gluten free and has a lower glycemic index than white rice, which means that it does not raise blood sugar levels as quickly.
Thankfully, you don’t have to spend every night slaving in front of a hot stove to enjoy the benefits of brown rice. Brown rice, like other grains, can be cooked and frozen and will retain its quality for up to 6 months. The rice can be cooked in water, vegetable, chicken or beef broth or bullion. Flavored broths come in low sodium versions as well. Chopped onions, minced garlic, ginger, herbs and spices can be added to season brown rice. Uncooked brown rice has a shelf-life of about 6 months and can be stored at room temperature or refrigerated to add more time to the shelf life.
When cooking, check for “use by” dates on the rice. Cook brown rice according to package directions. Typically, 2 parts liquids to 1 part rice are used. After the rice is cooked, rinse through a colander and place on a cookie sheet to cool for 20-30 minutes. Once rice is cooled, package it in 1-2 cup servings (depending on need) in freezer-safe bags.
By Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD
- Hongyu Wu, PhD1; Alan J. Flint, MD, ScD1; Qibin Qi, PhD2; et al. Association Between Dietary Whole Grain Intake and Risk of MortalityTwo Large Prospective Studies in US Men and Women. JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(3):373-384.
- Dr. Qi Sun, MD, ScD, Dr. Donna Spiegelman, ScD, Dr. Rob M. van Dam, PhD, Dr. Michelle D. Holmes, MD, DrPH, Ms. Vasanti S. Malik, MSc, Dr. Walter C. Willett, MD, DrPH, and Dr. Frank B. Hu, MD, PhD. White Rice, Brown Rice, and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in US Men and Women. Arch Intern Med. 2010 Jun 14; 170(11): 961–969.
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.