10 Incredible health benefits of switching to brown rice (recipes included)
09/18/2020 / By Joanne Washburn / Comments
10 Incredible health benefits of switching to brown rice (recipes included)

Plain, cooked rice is a staple food in a lot of countries across the globe. But while there are different kinds of rice out there, not all of them are created – or processed – equally.

The ubiquitous white rice, for example, loses a large chunk of its nutrients because of processing. Meanwhile, unprocessed varieties like brown rice retain significant amounts of their fiber, protein and essential minerals.

This is because brown rice still contains all three parts of the grain: the bran, the endosperm and the germ. Most of the nutrients in brown rice and other whole grains, like wheat and oats, can be found in these parts.

Health benefits of brown rice

While it’s true that brown rice takes far longer to cook than white rice and other processed grains, this is nothing compared to the long list of health benefits it has to offer. These include:

  1. Supports digestion – Brown rice is an excellent source of fiber, an important macronutrient for digestion and regular bowel movement. Therefore, regular consumption of brown rice can prevent digestive problems like constipation and diarrhea.
  2. Fights inflammation – Brown rice is teeming with antioxidants and minerals that have antioxidant properties, such as selenium. Together, these components help combat both low-grade inflammation and inflammation associated with chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and arthritis.
  3. Prevents weight gain – On top of keeping the gut in top shape, fiber can also curb hunger. This is because fiber sits for long periods in the gut, thus sustaining that feeling of fullness. The effect? No snacking in between meals and reaching for a second helping at dinner!
  4. Promotes restful sleep – Brown rice can aid in the management of insomnia and other sleep problems. It is one of the few foods that contain melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. Our bodies produce melatonin, but people with sleep problems tend to have problems with melatonin production.
  5. Maintains strong bones – Brown rice is teeming with minerals essential for bone health, such as calcium and magnesium. Having adequate amounts of these minerals can also help in warding off bone conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis.
  6. Supports maternal health – Some studies suggest that brown rice can improve the immune health of breastfeeding mothers. The nutrients in brown rice can also help increase their resistance to stress for better overall health.
  7. Boosts brain health – Brown rice is chock-full of manganese and B complex vitamins, both of which contribute to better brain health. The antioxidants in brown rice also help protect brain cells from damage due to inflammation and oxidative stress.
  8. Protects against heart disease – Brown rice is great for the heart. Research shows that selenium and magnesium in brown rice help eliminate cholesterol buildup along the arteries, which can lead to heart disease.
  9. Helps in diabetes management – Rice is a big no-no for diabetics, but not brown rice. While brown rice is still high in carbs, its fiber, antioxidants and micronutrients all help in regulating blood sugar. Plus, eating brown rice does not lead to sudden spikes in blood sugar.
  10. Protects against certain cancers – Emerging research suggests brown rice could also have protective effects against certain cancers, including those of the colon and breasts, because of its antioxidants. Previous studies have also suggested that selenium can reduce cancer risk.

Cooking with brown rice

Cooking brown rice is an essential skill that home cooks ought to master, much like scrambling eggs, cooking chicken or making the perfect stock for soup. Don’t fret if it seems daunting at first, learning how to cook brown rice, or cook with it, gets easier with time and loads of practice.

When cooked to perfection, brown rice makes for an ideal whole-grain base for burrito bowls and stir-fries. But it also doubles as a versatile side dish that pairs quite well with most proteins and greens. Listed below is a basic recipe for cooking brown rice, as well as other brown rice recipes.

Basic brown rice

Follow this recipe to a T to get the fluffiest brown rice. Remember: don’t use a saucepan that’s too small, and no matter what, resist the urge to take a peek while the rice is cooking.


  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup long-grain brown rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Toss in the rice and toast it for 5 minutes or until fragrant.
  3. Pour in the stock and water, then season with salt. Bring it to a boil.
  4. Once boiling, cover the pan and reduce the heat to simmer.
  5. Simmer for 40–45 minutes or until the water has evaporated.
  6. Turn off the heat but keep the pan covered. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  7. Fluff the rice with a fork.
  8. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Slow-cooker brown rice pilaf

Meal prep doesn’t get easier than just tossing ingredients into a slow cooker and letting it do the work. Whip up this tasty pilaf for brunch or serve it alongside a filling meat dish for dinner.


  • 3 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked brown rice
  • 1/2 cup dried sweet cherries
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sliced scallions
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Cook the onions for 5 minutes or until tender and translucent.
  3. Toast the rice for 1 minute.
  4. Transfer the contents of the skillet onto a slow cooker.
  5. Pour in the chicken stock, then season with salt and pepper.
  6. Cover the slow cooker and set it on high. Cook for 2–3 hours.
  7. Turn off the slow cooker, then add the dried cherries.
  8. Cover the slow cooker and let rest for 15 minutes.
  9. Stir in the scallions and apple cider vinegar.
  10. Garnish with hazelnuts before serving.

Brown rice salad

Serving this fiber-rich side dish alongside salads and stews helps round out a delicious meal. You can also serve it with a protein like chicken, steak or salmon to transform it into a main dish.


  • 5 radishes
  • 1 small carrot
  • 1 cup shelled edamame
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped peanuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
  • Soy vinaigrette
  • Lime wedges


  1. Transfer the cooked rice onto a large bowl. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  2. To the same bowl, add the radishes, carrot, vinaigrette and ginger.
  3. Stir until the ingredients are combined well.
  4. Garnish with peanuts. Serve with lime wedges.

Mediterranean shrimp and rice soup

Sit down to this rich and delectable comfort food during the fall and winter months. Teeming with flavor, fiber and seafood goodness, this dish is sure to hit the spot once the colder temperatures set in.


  • 14 ounces diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 pounds peeled shrimp
  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup diced white onions
  • 1 cup diced bell peppers
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Salt and ground pepper
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Bay leaves
  • Olive oil


  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over high heat.
  2. Cook the shrimp for 6–8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Take out the cooked shrimps and set them aside, then reduce the heat.
  4. Cook the onion and garlic for 2 minutes or until the onions are caramelized.
  5. Toss in the dried thyme and cook for 1 minute.
  6. Pour in the chicken stock, then add the tomatoes and cooked brown rice.
  7. Bring it to a light simmer. Season with salt and pepper, then add bay leaves.
  8. Reduce the heat to low and cover the skillet. Let it simmer for 20 minutes.
  9. Toss in the diced bell peppers and fresh spinach. Stir until the spinach wilts.
  10. Cover the skillet again and let it simmer for another 10 minutes.
  11. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  12. Garnish with lemon and parsley before serving.

Mushroom and brown rice hash with poached eggs

This simple hash takes no more than 30 minutes to make. Rich in fiber and protein, as well as dozens of minerals, this nutritious recipe is sure to be a staple in meal rotation schedules.


  • 4 large eggs, cold
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 8 ounces cooked brown rice
  • 1 pound sliced portobello mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds


  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Saute the mushrooms for 6–7 minutes or until brown.
  3. Saute the sweet onions for 1 minute, then add the rice and carrot.
  4. Cook for another 4–5 minutes or until the carrot is tender.
  5. Toss in the green onions, salt, pepper and caraway seeds.
  6. In a saucepan, bring water to a boil. Reduce it to a simmer.
  7. Break cold eggs, one at a time, into a small bowl.
  8. Slip the eggs into the water and cook for 3–5 minutes
  9. Use a slotted spoon to lift the eggs out of the water.
  10. Serve the eggs over the brown rice base.

Despite its longer cooking time, brown rice is far more nutritious than other rice varieties. To reap its incredible health benefits, whip up the recipes listed above and incorporate them into a balanced diet.



CookingLight.com 1

CookingLight.com 2




100% Fresh Food News, Right at Your Fingertips!
Find out everything you need to know about clean and healthy eating when you sign up for our FREE email newsletter. Receive the latest news on all the top superfoods, recipes, natural remedies, diets, food tips, and more!
Your privacy is protected. Subscription confirmation required.

Related Articles
comments powered by Disqus

100% Fresh Food News, Right at Your Fingertips!
Find out everything you need to know about clean and healthy eating when you sign up for our FREE email newsletter. Receive the latest news on all the top superfoods, recipes, natural remedies, diets, food tips, and more!
Your privacy is protected. Subscription confirmation required.

Popular articles