Exactly How Healthy Is Brown Rice?


Brown rice is a versatile, nutty-flavored whole grain that’s likely tucked away in your kitchen pantry. It’s easy to cook and makes a satisfying side dish to just about any protein or veggie. But how does it stack up nutritionally? Should brown rice be considered a healthy whole grain, just like quinoa, farro, and freekeh?

Brown Rice Nutrition

According to the USDA, healthy adults need about 3- to 6-ounce-equivalents of whole grains each day. A typical serving (or 1-ounce equivalent) of cooked brown rice equals about ½ cup or 1 ounce dry.

Here is the nutrition breakdown for a ½ cup serving of cooked medium-grain brown rice, according to the USDA:

Calories 100

Fat 1g

Saturated fat 0g

Unsaturated fats 0.6g

Carbohydrates 23g

Sodium 0g

Sugar 0g

Fiber 2g

Protein 2g

Calcium 0%

DV Potassium 2% 


Brown rice is a good source of energizing complex carbohydrates. Compared to simple carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates are considered healthier because they contain fiber and are broken down more slowly by the body. If you’re looking to cut carbs, however, you may want to consider whole grains with less carbohydrates, such as oatmeal or bulgur.


Incorporating high-fiber foods like brown rice into your diet can help keep you full and prevent overeating. Specifically, brown rice contains insoluble fiber, which helps keep things moving regularly through your digestive tract.


While you won’t see it on nutrition labels, brown rice notches an impressive amount of manganese. One serving of brown rice packs 1.07 mg, or about 50 percent of your recommended daily intake (2.3 mg). In the body,

Brown Rice vs. White Rice

From a nutrition perspective, brown rice is considered to be a healthier choice than white rice. Brown rice is a whole grain because it’s less processed—the hull is removed, but the bran and the germ remain.

The major difference, however, is fiber content. Brown rice packs a solid amount of fiber for a relatively small serving size, while white rice has none whatsoever. As a result, brown rice is much more satiating than white rice, which is processed more quickly in your body.