We clarify the difference between white rice and brown rice, germinated rice, the difference between classic rice and sticky rice, the effects of cleaning rice by rinsing, and give nutrition data for various types of rice.
The Difference between White Rice and Brown Rice
The Rice Grain
All rice harvested from the field has a husk containing a light brownish seed. The husk is not edible, and is removed. That leaves the brownish seed, this is brown rice. All rice starts out as brown rice.
The brownish outer layer of the rice seed is its bran. The bran contains most of rice's fibers, vitamins, minerals, and protein - giving brown rice a full, somewhat chewy, nutty taste, and making it an all round wholesome food to consume.
Brown rice is the rice traditionally consumed throughout the ages. As a whole grain, it has a rather low shelf life. Traditionally this made rice difficult to sell on a larger scale outside its main production areas.
Germinated Brown Rice
Germinated brown rice, or simply germinated rice, is sprouted rice. Rice sprouts by itself in moist and warm conditions, and farmers sprout rice in order to grow it for the next season. Sprouted rice can only be made from brown rice, with husk or without.
As a food, germinated rice is the most luxurious form of rice, with a soft, mild taste and a very high nutrient content - including γ-oryzanol, γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), total phenolic compounds (TPC). Due to its biological activity, sprouted rice has the lowest shelf life of all rice forms.
White rice is what remains after a rice milling process has removed the brown bran layer of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protein. Only part of the original nutrients remain. White rice has a more neutral, softer taste than brown rice.
White rice is the rice most widely consumed in modern society. While it does not contain a lot of fiber or nutrients, white rice has a phenomenally long shelf life.
Long shelf life brings down a product's cost and at the same time expands a product's geographic market. For rice, this was achieved in 1861 with the invention of a milling machine that allowed large scale removal of its bran layer - by whitening and polishing. Since then, merchants have urged people to buy polished white rice, instead of unpolished brown rice.
The concept of rice changed. The new white rice became normality, the original nutritious staple became a curiosity. Most people are unaware that brown rice used to be rice, as in the rice, the only rice.
Enriched and Fortified White Rice
Realizing there might well be consumers who prefer nutrition with their (white) rice, the modern solution is to artificially put some nutrients back into it, just as long as the long shelf life is maintained. And, of course, it is sold at a premium.
The Return of the Brown Rice
The modern times that transformed traditional, original rice into a curiosity, are bringing it back. A vacuum package can increase brown rice's shelf life to about one year, and germinated brown rice to about 6 months. Refrigeration also increases shelf life significantly. So now, everyone can enjoy naturally nutritious traditional, original (brown) rice with all its natural nutritional components.
In fact, all whole grain foods should be much preferable over their refined, polished, nutrient depleted, long shelf-life counterparts.
Classic Rice versus Sticky Rice
Jasmine rice and Sticky rice result from different rice plant varieties. Sticky rice contains more amylopectin, essentially a starch, which is responsible for its sticky characteristic. Because of its stickiness it is also called glutinous rice, while rice in fact does not contain gluten. Rice processing is the same, resulting in either brown or white rice, with their respective nutritional differences.
The main difference between classic rice and sticky rice may be less about nutritional content, and more about cultural traditions, that is in terms of meal recipes, the social setting of consuming meals, and storing cooked rice. Note that properly cooked sticky rice sticks to itself. It is traditionally eaten by hand, while seated on a floor mat.
Sticky rice is easily formed into a clump, which may then be combined by delicately scooping up a bite size portion from central dishes that are shared by everyone having the meal. The participants of the meal do not actually require individual plates. Cooked sticky rice is traditionally stored in a tightly packed bamboo basket.
Classic (non-Sticky) rice is combined with other meal components by mixing with slightly cupped fingers, which is generally done on a surface, such as an individual banana leaf, plate or bowl. This does leave the issue of who will take care of the dishes. Cooked classic rice is usually not stored.
Rinsing Rice Before Cooking
Rice should always be cleaned by rinsing. But the rinse also removes nutrients. Don't overdo the rinse, once or twice should do it. Remove everything that floats to the top. See if any other particles behave differently from the rest and remove them. The rinse also helps remove unwanted chemical elements that should not be in your rice in the first place. Just be aware that over-repeated rinsing removes nutrients (including artificially added enrichments).
Sticky rice is generally soaked before steaming. Here the general practice is to rinse it once, soak it, discard the soak water, put the wet rice into the steamer without a repeat rinse.
What About Arsenic in Rice?
According to a number of publications, rice tends to attract arsenic that may naturally or unnaturally be present in the environment. As arsenic tends to be absorbed more in the bran layer, brown rice is more strongly affected. To find out if our own Sansaket Farm's environment, and our rice, contain arsenic we tested our rice. The result: Arsenic - Not detected.
The tests were done on 3 and 4 December 2018 by the Chiang Mai University Science and Technology Service Center Laboratory using the TC-OES testing method on our November 2018 harvest rice, with certification date 11 December 2018.
Our rice for the current harvest sales season 2019 does not contain arsenic.
Nutrition Values of Raw Rice versus Cooked Rice
Why is there a big nutritional difference between raw and cooked rice?
Nutrition data of raw (dry) rice show different figures from nutrition facts of cooked rice. This is mainly because rice absorbs a lot of water during the cooking process. Basically it is still the same rice, while the same nutrients are counted on a larger volume and higher weight that includes the absorbed water. The differences are significant, with nutrient and carbohydrate figures for cooked rice around 2.5 to 3 times lower than raw rice. So, during cooking the rice does not lose that many nutrients, but it increases in size and weight with virtually the same nutrients. This affects the nutrients/volume and nutrients/weight proportions.
Rice Nutrition Facts
For nutrition data on Jasmine classic long-grain rice and Sticky long-grain rice, we refer to the official USDA nutritional counts for cooked, unenriched rice below.
- USDA Long-Grain White Rice - Basic Report 20445
- USDA Long Grain Brown Rice - Basic Report 20037
- USDA Sticky White Rice - Basic Report 20054
- USDA Sticky Brown Rice - Basic Report 20041
Germinated Brown Rice
We have not found official USDA reports for germinated rice. Two alternatives, with second item as core scientific source:
- The Nutrition of Sprouted Brown Rice (Livestrong)
- Germinated Brown Rice and its Role in Human Health (Abstract) - Fengfeng Wu, Na Yang, Alhassane Touré, Zhengyu Jin & Xueming Xu, Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013;53(5):451-63. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2010.542259 (Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, Taylor and Francis Group)
- Germinated brown rice as a value added rice product: A review - Patil, S.B. & Khan, M.K. J Food Sci Technol (2011) 48: 661. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13197-011-0232-4 (Journal of Food Science and Technology, Springer Verlag)
Some analysis and discussion on rice nutrition data:
- Healthline: Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Which Is Better for You?
- Organic Facts: 15 Impressive Benefits of Brown Rice
USDA Food Product Sheets (PDF)
Page updated on 13 December 2018