Should you eat brown rice instead of white rice? Fun Fact: Wheat, rice, and corn are the most popular staple foods on the planet. When picking grains, one of the biggest factors to take up is which ones you should pick. Then there’s the issue of whether whole grains or refined grains are better. This is the issue related to brown rice protein amino acid. The two main types of proteins are “complete” and “incomplete.” So this is one of the issues to consider in terms of brown rice. Then there’s the nutritional value compared to white rice. Another issue is the nutrition facts of rice, which involves both the macronutrients (carbs, protein, fats) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants).
The term complete protein refers to protein sources that include all 9 essential amino acids (EAAs). These are amino acids that humans must always get from food/supplements. The reason is that the body doesn’t make them like non-essential amino acids. Most of the complete proteins are animal-sourced like meat, eggs, and dairy. However, some plant-based foods are also complete proteins. We can still combine 2+ incomplete proteins to make complete proteins. There are different examples, including whole wheat bread + peanut butter, and bean soup + crackers.
What Exactly Is Brown Rice?
Rice is one of the most popular staple foods in the world. There’s a wide range of varieties, including white, red, brown, and black. It’s important to know the main differences between them so you can choose wisely when you shop for grains.
In the US, the main kinds of rice are brown and white. They’re actually from the same grain. However, the difference is the parts of the grain they include. Brown rice includes all three parts, while white rice only includes the endosperm after the bran and germ are removed.
Ironically, brown rice tends to be more expensive than white rice since it’s not highly processed like white rice. Besides that, another major issue might be how brown rice stacks up in terms of nutritional value.
Brown rice is one of the whole grains. That’s because it’s not refined like white rice. It provides several health benefits, including more protein, vitamins/minerals, and fiber. In fact, in terms of overall nutrition facts, brown rice is a better option.
Does this mean that white rice is unhealthy? The endosperm is starchier than the other two parts of the grain, so it’s also high-sugar. In some cases, this can be a plus. For example, if you’re eating a pre-workout meal then white rice would be a better option if you want a quick energy boost for cardio or weight-resistance training.
The MyPlate dietary recommendations of the US Department of Agriculture suggests that at least half of your daily grains be whole grains. Other options include whole wheat, barley, corn, oatmeal, and buckwheat. All of these options are healthier than refined versions just like brown rice.
Here are the nutrition facts for 1 cup of brown rice:
- Calories: 248
- Carbohydrates: 52g
- Protein: 5.5g
- Fat: 2g
- Fiber: 3.2g
You also get good amounts of iron, folate, and other vitamins/minerals.
Brown Rice Protein: Amino Acid Profile
A big question you might have about brown rice is whether or not it’s a “complete” protein. In short, the answer is: no. Most plant-based foods aren’t complete proteins with some exceptions being quinoa (grain/cereal), soybeans, and chia seeds.
For a food to be considered a complete protein, it must have enough of all 9 essential amino acids (EAAs). These are aminos that humans must get from food/supplements since the body simply doesn’t make them.
The majority of complete proteins are animal-based. They include ones like:
In the case of plant-based foods, some are close to being complete proteins. They include ones like whole grains, beans/peas (except soy), and nuts/seeds (except chia). However, just because brown rice isn’t a complete protein doesn’t mean it’s somehow unhealthy.
As noted above, brown rice is chock-full of various nutrients. You can even make it into a complete protein by combining it with 1+ incomplete proteins. For example, you can add options like any kind of beans or peas to brown rice to turn it into a complete protein.
There are even some health experts who argue that the whole idea of “complete” and “incomplete” proteins isn’t really practical. The reason is that the digestive system sorts out the different amino acids when someone consumes proteins.
Another caveat to consider is that while low-carb diets have been trending lately, ALL three macronutrients are important. That includes carbs, protein, and fat. For example, while animal-sourced foods are usually low-carb, grains, fruits, and veggies provide excellent sources of carbs even though they’re not complete proteins.
When consuming brown rice you’re still getting a superfood in terms of nutrients. Many diets today like Keto, Atkins, and Paleo ditch all grains. The potential problem is that it’s an entire food group so it’s tough to replace it with other foods.
Top Health Benefits of Brown Rice
This is one of the main benefits of brown rice and other whole grains versus refined grains. Studies show that the ones in whole grains are linked to lower risk of some kinds of cancer. This is also related to the benefits the whole foods can provide in terms of lower blood pressure/sugar/fat.
Here are some of the vitamins/minerals from brown rice:
- Vitamin Bs
These nutrients are all critical for good health. Brown rice offers a good amount of them so you can get your recommended daily value (DV).
2. Very filling
This is mostly due to brown rice being a whole grain. You get all three parts of the grain, which makes the food more filling versus starchy white rice. This is a plus if you want to control appetite and reduce snack attacks. The fuller you feel the less you’ll eat.
3. Glycemic Index
More specifically, brown rice has a low GI score. This is related to how fast certain foods enter the bloodstream. The problem with foods like white rice, white sugar, and refined flour is they cause blood sugar spikes. That’s due to them being high-GI, for example.
This means that you can get energy from brown rice over a longer timeframe than white rice. If you’re looking for an energy boost then white rice is a good option for pre-workout meals, for example.
This is one of the main benefits of brown rice over white rice. The high fiber content doesn’t reduce the carbs much if you’re tracking that for low-carb diets. However, the higher-fiber content is critical because it can provide benefits like better digestion.
The body doesn’t digest fiber. However, it helps to improve overall digestion, which is also important for good health and makes it worth learning about brown rice protein amino acid.