White vs Brown Rice & How to Make Perfect White Rice


 

IMG_2611Rice is a topic of controversy among internet bloggers, health groups, chefs, and traditional cultures. And from what I can tell, the popular rice debate revolves around a few main questions:

  1. “Should I eat white or brown rice?”

  2. “What strands of rice should I use?”

  3. “What’s the best way to cook white rice?”

We’ll break this down into three parts, for simple comprehension of each topic.

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Question 1: “Should I Eat White or Brown Rice?”

To start, let’s focus on the “white vs brown” topic of discussion. Those who argue on the side of brown rice claim that because it’s a whole grain, it has more vitamins, protein, and it doesn’t cause a spike in glucose levels when eaten. Those who argue on the side of white rice claim that, because the hull is removed (i.e. it’s not a whole grain), it’s easier to digest, it does not cause gastrointestinal distress, and has been eaten as the staple food for hundreds of healthy cultures for thousands of years.

It’s true, brown rice does contain more nutrients and proteins than white rice and doesn’t cause a spike in glucose levels. However, it’s nutrients aren’t absorbable by the human body because they are blocked by phytates – chemicals found in whole grains and legumes – that prevent your gut bacteria from extracting the nutrients and delivering it to hungry cells in your body. Phytates exist so that brown rice poison their consumer, not fuel them with nutrients because, evolutionarily speaking, plants want their seeds (and that’s what brown rice is) to fall into the ground and become another plant, not be eaten by some predator.

Brown rice, as well as most other whole grains, also contain a slue of lectins which attack the mucus layer of our GI track, breach our gut wall, attach onto healthy cells preventing them from receiving nutrients, connect to our nervous system, and tell our brain to eat more lectins, thus repeating the cycle of havoc. When lectins breach our gut walls – known as leaky gut syndrome – they allow stomach acid and particles of partially digested food to enter our bodies, which are not meant to be swimming around next to our organs. [1]

White rice, with the hull and bran layer having been removed, contains no lectins or phytates, as well as 80% less arsenic than brown rice! All of which explains why traditional cultures have gone through the trouble of removing the layer of bran for thousands of years; if eating brown rice didn’t harm its consumers, people would have simply used that, because it takes way less labour to manufacture brown rice than it does white rice.

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Question 2: “What Strands Of Rice Should I Use?”

To figure out which variety of rice is healthiest, we have to take a look at resistant starch (RS) levels.

Resistant starch resists being digested in the small intestine only to pass on to the colon (large intestines) where gut bacteria actively ferment them, turning them into short-chain fatty acids. [2] That’s a good thing because short-chain fatty acids:

  • Allow your body to absorb fat soluble nutrients
  • Don’t enter the bloodstream as sugar, like simple carbohydrates do
  • Encourage the growth of good gut bacteria while keeping the not-so-good bacteria to a minimum

Not all varieties of white rice contain the same levels of resistant starch; Indian Basmati rice has the highest levels, containing 20% resistant starch. If rice is consumed at the proper time of day (night time) in the proper portions, it can be a healthy addition to one’s diet. (I only eat rice at night so that any remaining simple carbohydrates have time to turn into fat that I can use as fuel in the morning, where I don’t typically eat for 3-5 hours prior to waking up.)

Resistant starch levels are increased even more by cooking rice with virgin coconut oil (1 tablespoon for every 1 cup of rice), which works because the coconut oil crystalizes a portion of the simple carbohydrates, converting them into resistant starches. Then, by cooling the rice in the fridge for 12 hours, RS levels bump up to 10 times that of normal white rice. [3][4]

No reduction of RS levels occur once reheated.

All of this information serves to deflate the idea that rice is simply another means of essentially eating sugar, because when cooked and prepared the correct way, white rice is an affordable, valuable component of a healthy diet.

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Question 3: “What’s The Best Way To Cook White Rice?”

Unfortunately, there’s not one clear answer for this question because long grain, medium grain, and short grain rice all deserve slightly different cooking methods, as does the intended application of rice affect how it should be cooked. However, you definitely don’t need a rice cooker. All you need is a large bowl or strainer, a pot with a lid, a tea towel, and a fork. The method I show you below is my go to rice for: curry, sautéed vegetables, fried rice, or any basic white rice application.

While reading over the directions, keep in mind that each step is crucial to achieving perfect rice; rinsing the rice ensures it won’t be gummy, cooking it with the proper amount of water ensures it won’t be too stiff or too soft, and covering it with a tea towel immediately following cooking ensures that any excess moisture will be wicked away, leaving you with fluffy rice.

If you’ve completely banished the idea of eating white rice, just like I did for years, I hope you take a moment to re-consider your opinion of rice – the staple food of billions.

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If you have any unanswered questions regarding rice remaining, ask them in the comments and I will answer them to the best of my abilities

The Perfect White Rice

  • Servings: About 5 1/2 cups
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

How to make white rice perfectly fluffy and tender every time. Coconut oil and overnight refrigeration boost resistant starch levels tenfold.

Ingredients

  • 2 c Thai Jasmine white rice*
  • 3 c water
  • heavy pinch of salt (optional)
  • 2 tbsp virgin coconut oil

Directions

  1. To rinse rice, place in a large bowl with enough water to cover, swish the rice around with your hands, and remove the water. Add more water to the bowl, and repeat the process of cleaning the rice until the water runs completely clear, about 4-5 times. I pour out the water through a mesh strainer to ensure stray rice granules are caught.
  2. Alternatively, put rice in a mesh strainer and rinse for 2-3 minutes until the water comes out clean.
  3. Combine rice, water, coconut oil, and salt in a medium pot, give a quick stir, and bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as a rolling boil is achieved, reduce heat to low, slap on a lid, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed. Do not stir or remove the lid at all until the 15 minute mark is reached.
  4. To check to see if the water has been absorbed, use a fork to move the rice to the side so that you can see the bottom of the pot. If you see any water, put the lid back on and cook another 2 minutes. If you don’t see any, you’re ready to move on to step 5.
  5. Take off of the heat, remove lid, and lay a tea towel over the top of the pot. Then, secure the lid down on top of the towel, and let sit for 15 minutes.
  6. Remove lid and towel, fluff rice with a fork, and serve immediately or store in fridge for 12 hours to boost resistant starch levels.
  7. To re-heat, place rice in a pot with 1/4 cup of water, set over medium heat, and cook for 5-8 minutes, breaking apart the large chunks of rice as you cook.

*If using Indian Basmati rice, use 1 3/4  cups of water for every 1 cup of rice.

Sources:

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1115436/
[2] 
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-resistant-starch
[3] https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/pressroom/newsreleases/2015/march/new-low-calorie-rice-could-help-cut-rising-obesity-rates.html
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26693746

 

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