Rice and Grains: The Good, Bad and Worst

You presumably have rice and grains in a particular spot in your pantry. And haven’t given it much thought; milled vs unmilled grain, bleached vs unbleached rice. Are rice and grains the same? Or you know something about brown rice nutrients and are glad that your body benefits from the protein in brown rice. If you are like most of us, you probably avoided white rice and checked the rice rankings for the perfect brand. Of course, you’ve heard about the benefits of ancient grains. But, what are ancient grains? Here, we’ll talk about rice and grains: the good, bad, and the worst. So if you are on a plant-based diet and feeling accomplished, remember that not all plant-based meals are as healthy. Let’s dig in…  

As we begin, bear in mind that rice is a grain product. Grains contain complex carbohydrates, some key vitamins, and minerals. But, the distance from the grain plant in the field to the grain on your plate makes all the difference. This is where grains get such terms as ancient grains, milled vs unmilled grains, whole grains, etc.

Benefits of rice and grains

As we begin, bear in mind that rice is a grain product. Grains contain complex carbohydrates, some key vitamins, and minerals. But, the distance from the grain plant in the field to the grain on your plate makes all the difference. This is where grains get such terms as ancient grains, milled vs unmilled grains, whole grains, etc. Explains the rationale behind the protein in brown rice.

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One may ask, what are ancient grains? These are a group of grains that have remained unchanged over centuries. They are not refined like white rice or white bread. Popular ones are sorghum, millet, quinoa, amaranth, and farro. A meal containing ancient grains is higher in protein, omega 3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and zinc. The downside is that they tend to be heavier on the wallet. 

These are a group of grains that have remained unchanged over centuries. They are not refined like white rice or white bread. Popular ones are sorghum, millet, quinoa, amaranth, and farro. A meal containing ancient grains is higher in protein, omega 3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and zinc. The downside is that they tend to be heavier on the wallet.
Fermented millet porridge

Further, all ancient grains are whole grains because they do not go through the milling process. They are not stripped of their nutrients thus packed with all the benefits of ancient grains. 

Related: How to cook Kasha- Ancient Grain

Simply put, milling removes the hull, bran, and germ of the grain so that only the starchy white endosperm remains. White rice refers to milled OR refined rice. Sometimes, manufacturers coat it with glucose and talc to give it a glossy finish. If you were curious about bleached vs unbleached rice, there you have it. This increases its cooking quality, shelf life, and taste. Too bad that milling significantly reduces the nutritional value of whole grains.

Inforgraphic showing ancient grains benefits. the nutritional value of freekeh recipe and kamut recipe. ancient grains are suitable for vegetable stir fry recipe and other stew recipes

Related: How To Cook Kamut and Freekeh Ancient Grains

On the other hand, brown rice is a common term for unmilled rice OR whole grain rice. Other variations of unmilled rice are black rice, purple rice, and red rice. In other words, brown rice is an intact whole grain containing the most nutritious parts of the grain. For this reason, the protein in brown rice is about 8 percent more and it also contains small amounts of fats. Brown rice is a source of thiamine, niacin, iron, and calcium. Whole grain rice takes longer to cook and has a nuttier and chewier texture than white rice. Try out this simple tofu fried rice or learn how to transform store-bought sauce and serve it over whole grain rice, then you can judge for yourself.

That said, consider these health benefits associated with whole grains:

  • Whole grains offer more protein, fiber, minerals, and vitamins to your body.
  • Eating unmilled vs milled rice enables you to maintain your weight because they are more filling.
  • Whole grains contain fiber to help lower blood sugar levels.
  • They are also packed with phytonutrients and antioxidants that fight inflammation, therefore, helping prevent chronic diseases and cancer.

The Bottom Line

Each whole grain, ancient or not, has something unique to offer. Nevertheless, we absolutely commend the benefits of ancient grains. And, the perfect way to get the full range of nutrients available in whole grains is to eat a variety of grain foods.

Another thing, it is clear that brown rice nutrients outweigh those of white rice. Talking of rice rankings, the rule of thumb is that the darker the rice, the more nutritionally dense it is. 

Another thing, it is clear that brown rice nutrients outweigh those of white rice. Talking of rice rankings, the rule of thumb is that the darker the rice, the more nutritionally dense it is. 
Black rice & black beans

What’s more, when white rice is dominant in your diet, research shows there is a risk of beriberi disease due to a deficiency of thiamine and minerals. Besides checking the rice rankings, be sure to compare nutritional labels when shopping to get nature’s best.

Remember to share your whole-grain dietary experience in the comments.

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