Health benefits of eating whole-grain rice are often mentioned. But is there any downside in eating whole-grain rice instead of white rice?
There are some downsides to eating whole-grain rice, primarily that brown rice has consistently higher levels of inorganic arsenic in it including rice found in the U.S.. The EPA's maximum contaminant level for arsenic is 10 micrograms/L in water, and there's some suggestion that the level of arsenic contamination in brown rice could be pushing up against that threshold.
As far as I'm aware though, there haven't been any definitive studies on health outcomes for people consuming brown vs. white rice.
A detailed analysis of nutrient content of rice suggests that the nutrition value of rice varies based on a number of factors (depends on the strain of rice and its color). Comparative nutrition studies on varieties of rice suggest that highly colored rice strains have more antioxidant properties2009.
Red or black rice consumption was found (in mammals) to reduce the progression of atherosclerotic plaque development, however white rice consumption offered no similar benefits which can suggest may be due in in a lack of antioxidants found in other varieties of rice2001.
In comparison to whole grain, the white rice is milled rice that has had its husk, bran, and germ removed.
For full comparison table of nutrient content, please check: Comparison of rice to other major staple foods at Wikipedia.
Inorganic Arsenic in Rice
The downside of eating different type of rice can be amount of arsenic (naturally occurring element in air, soil, water and foods). It has been found that rice is susceptible to accumulation of arsenic from soilBoston Globe.
Arsenic exposure during pregnancy is a public health concern due to potential health risks to the fetusMedical Xpress.
Summary table of Inorganic Arsenic in Rice and Rice Products:
The FDA, the agency responsible for overseeing the safety of our food supply, has been monitoring arsenic content for more than 20 years, however not indicated that the average daily intake of arsenic is unsafe and not established standards the acceptable limit standards of arsenic in food.
- Arsenic poisoning: Food & Rice: Arsenic concerns at Wikipedia
- Rice as a source of arsenic exposure at Medical Xpress
- Surprisingly high concentrations of toxic arsenic species found in U.S. rice at Evisa
- China: Inorganic Arsenic in Rice - An Underestimated Health Threat? at Evisa
- Arsenic Compounds at EPA
- EPA Computer Models Predict Exposures to Arsenic that Echo Reality (PDF)
- "Discussion Paper on Arsenic in Rice" (2011) (PDF)
- Book: Andrew A. Meharg and Fang-Jie Zhao, Arsenic & Rice