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Isquick brown rice as healthy as regular?

Asked by Christina, Milford, Connecticut

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Do quick-cooking brown rice and regular brown rice have the same health benefits? Or is the quick-cooking brown rice no better than white?

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Diet and Fitness Expert Dr. Melina Jampolis Physician Nutrition Specialist

Expert answer

Hi, Christina. I'm glad that you asked about brown rice, as a study just came out in the Archives of Internal Medicine that found that higher brown rice intake (two or more servings per week vs. less than one serving per month) is associated with an 11 percent reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, whereas higher intakes of white rice (five or more servings per week vs. less than one serving per month) are associated with a 17 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Despite the health benefits, many people don't want to spend 40 to 50 minutes cooking brown rice, so they resort to quick-cooking brown rice, which can take only five to 15 minutes to prepare.

To answer your question, I turned to Cynthia Harriman of the nonprofit Whole Grains Council. She informed me that a leading brown rice manufacturer had submitted both its regular and instant brown rice products as well as those of its competitors to an independent third-party laboratory. The lab found that there was no appreciable difference in the nutrient profiles of regular versus quick-cooking. Both are considered whole grains, and both are good sources or manganese, magnesium, selenium and fiber.

In addition, unlike instant vs. slow-cooked oatmeal, instant brown rice in some cases actually has an equivalent or even a lower glycemic index (raises blood sugar more slowly) than longer-cooking rice. Lower glycemic index diets have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in Americans.

So you don't have to spend an hour in the kitchen to enjoy the healthy, whole-grain benefits of brown rice. Just watch your serving size, as brown rice is still somewhat carbohydrate-dense, so the overall impact on your blood sugar and total caloric intake is still significant if you consume too much.

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