Sunday, November 07, 2010

This is how my mind works

A conversation with my daughter concerning diet and nutrition made me think about something.  Brown rice is considered to be a very healthy food, far better for you than white rice.  I read the backs of packages, including the nutritional label, and while I didn't remember the details, what I thought I remembered made me question that universal belief.  So I went to, which is my go-to website when researching nutritional information.

Comparing amounts of cooked rice in equal weights -- 100 grams, for example -- I discovered that there is very little difference in nutrition.  One hundred grams of white rice has more calories (14.6% more) and carbohydrates (17.9% more) while brown rice has 2 grams of fiber and white rice none.  A bit of a difference, but not enough to make brown rice a superfood.

What I noticed, however, was when I changed my measurement to volume (one cup,) that a cup of cooked brown rice weighed more (195 grams) than a cup of white rice (158 grams.)  This changed the nutrition quite a bit, giving brown rice more calories and 4 grams of fiber vs. zero for white rice.

I've sent Nutritiondata a note asking about this -- does a cup of brown rice actually weigh more than a cup of white rice?  (I'll update this if and when I get an answer.)  For practical purposes the point may be moot.  We serve ourselves in volume -- a "scoop" or "spoonful" of something, a 'cup" or "half cup" if we measure.   

When experts compare the relative ability of boxers, they refer to someone as the "pound for pound" better fighter.  This acknowledges that the heavyweights, by sheer volume, can pack more power than the lighter weights.  More brown rice will have more nutrients than less white rice.  Conceding that there are slight advantages nutritionally, and pending an explanation from Nutritiondata's experts, brown rice's reputation as a far superior alternative to white rice may be exaggerated.

Update: Apparently I ask good questions.  Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N (that means she's an expert) devoted an entire column on December 13 (over a month later!) to answering my question.  Read "The surprising truth about brown rice." 


Anonymous said...

You sound like a liberal, trying to shove multi-culturism down our throats (literally). Leave me and my white rice alone!

WHITE (rice) POWER!!

gern blansten

wordkyle said...

You're the second person to relate this post to politics. (The other person was too cowardly to post his comments on the blog.) If anything, it's a "don't believe everything you're told" sort of situation. Works in both nutrition and politics.