"People will choose brown rice despite it not being their first choice in an effort to be 'healthy.' I see this so often with clients," Qureshi says. "All food is nourishing and provides our bodies with valuable nutrients that meet our emotional and physical needs. I don't see brown rice as the healthier option, it just has a different nutritional profile than white rice."
- Samina Qureshi, RD, Samina Qureshi, RD, is a registered dietitian, gut health expert, and the founder of Wholesome Start. She helps clients break free from fear, stress, and guilt around food.
Brown rice and white rice are essentially the same, but white rice has been processed in a way to remove the outer layers to have a longer shelf life and shorter cooking time. Since white rice no longer has the outer layer, it's lower in fiber than brown rice, says Qureshi. But it's also because of this that white rice is often enriched with vitamins and minerals that may be lost during the milling process—just one benefit of white rice. In fact, she recently took to Instagram to share five reasons why she loves it. Keep reading to read more about why white rice gets this registered dietitian's seal of approval.
Why a gut-health dietitian loves white rice
1. White rice is comforting
Qureshi pointedly calls out that not all benefits of a food are tied to specific nutrients; enjoying what you eat is just as important. She adds that rice is a major part of her family's South Asian kitchen. "Rice is the component on my plate that soaks up all the flavor and brings a dish to life," she says. "I love eating white rice with curries, salans, sabzis, stir-frys, chili, kabobs, grilled veggies, and pretty much anything you can think of."
2. It's gluten-free
If you want to make a soup, stew, or casserole heartier but follow a gluten-free diet, white rice does the job perfectly. Yes, there are lots of gluten-free pasta alternatives out there, but white rice is likely the most affordable option you'll find.
3. White rice gives you energy
"White rice is a source of carbohydrates that provides us with quick energy," Qureshi says. "Thanks to the milling process, white rice is able to be digested quicker than brown rice providing us not only with energy but also the comfort that goes along with enjoying rice with your meal."
4. It has B vitamins, magnesium, and iron
The iron and B vitamins in white rice are directly related to its energy-giving properties that Qureshi loves. The magnesium in white rice is linked to good sleep, another reason why it's a dinnertime win.
5. White rice is easy to digest
Qureshi also points out that white rice is easy on the digestive system. Some foods, like meat or leafy greens, require more work to break down. Since white rice doesn't, it makes it a key go-to for nights when you're eating dinner late or when you're just getting over being sick and are easing back into eating.
The bottom line is that all varieties of rice are beneficial, which is exactly why Qureshi says the best way to choose between them is to go for the one you like the taste of best. Answering that waiter just got easier, right?
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