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Ask Dr. Gourmet

Is parboiled rice as good for you as brown rice?

I was wondering if parboiled white rice was as good for diabetics as brown rice. I read that the process of making parboiled rice puts back nutrients taken out and that the result was that parboiled rice is as good as brown rice. Also does parboiled rice have the same fiber content as brown rice?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

a wooden bowl full of uncooked short grain brown rice

Truthfully, there's not much I dislike more than parboiled rice. First and foremost, rice is so easy to cook that there's no reason to use pre-cooked versions like Minute Rice. Secondly, the rice is "enriched" but what is put back in is not the best part of the rice: the outer layer. It is that bran layer that is removed when making white rice in much the same way that bran is removed from wheat berries to make white flour.

The fiber removed is what is so fantastic for diabetics (and those of us who want to avoid developing diabetes). Parboiled rice has about half as much fiber as brown rice, at 1.7 grams per 1/2 cup uncooked. Brown rice has 3.5 grams for the same 1/2 cup (uncooked). In short, no, parboiled rice is not as good for you as brown rice.

Brown rice does take longer to cook and requires more water. For some folks it's a bit of an acquired taste but taking the time to cook it right and make brown rice part of your meals will definitely make you healthier. Here are some recipes to get you started:

Brown and Wild Rice
Savory Lemon Rice | Low Sodium Version
Mexican Rice | Low Sodium Version
Cashew Chicken
Stuffed Peppers | Coumadin Safe Version
Salmon in Parchment with Mangoes
Shrimp Fried Rice
Brown Rice

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP
Dr. Gourmet