Uncle Ben: How Can White Rice be Whole Grain?

Uncle Ben – that master of parboiled gummy rice-like starch – released a new product
in 2011: Uncle Ben’s Whole Grain White Rice. Many people wondered: how can white
rice be whole grain? In fact, there were several articles published on a variety of
newspapers, blogs, and magazines asking that very question or one similar.

Rather than trying to simply answer that question, we are going to answer it with
another question: what is white rice?

White rice is what you get when you remove the husk, bran, and germ from whole grain
or brown rice. When you lose the bran you lose the fiber. When you lose the germ you lose B vitamins and some fat. All that remains is the endosperm, making white rice
essentially, nutritionally naked starch.

Consumers like white rice because it is light and fluffy. Food manufacturers like it
because without the fat it is less likely to go rancid and has a longer shelf life than whole
grain rice does.

So, what exactly is whole grain white rice? With Uncle Ben’s product, it’s parboiled
white rice (reduces cooking time) with rice bran, germ and B vitamins added back in –
along with a good dose of inulin (in the form of chicory root) to bulk up the fiber.

How does it compare nutritionally to brown rice and white rice?

  • Uncle Ben’s Whole Grain White Rice: 1/4 cup dry rice has 170 calories and 4
    grams of dietary fiber
  • Brown rice: 1/4 cup dry has 180 calories and 2 grams of dietary fiber
  • White rice: 1/4 cup dry has 180 calories and 1 gram of dietary fiber

It may look like Uncle Ben’s Whole Grain White Rice is the hands-down winner when it
comes to fiber. And while it technically does have twice as much fiber as brown rice as it
advertises keep in mind that a good bit of the fiber is from inulin, a resistant starch
whose health benefits are suspect.

In fact, WebMD.com lists inulin as ‘POSSIBLY
SAFE’ when you look on the Side Effects tab on the article about it. It also recommends
that pregnant and breast-feeding women should “Stay on the safe side and avoid use.”
If you hate the texture of brown rice, then this is a decent alternative. If you like white
rice, eat it and find your whole grains elsewhere. But if you are looking for the most

nutritionally sound rice stick with the brown rice. It has cheaper, it does not need
enriching and its fiber is naturally occurring.
Even though nearly 20% of consumed calories per day come from rice, it is better to opt
for brown, red, or black rice as opposed to white rice to get the most nutritional benefit.
Here is how the brown rice and white rice compare:

Fiber: Brown rice, per cup, provides 3.5 grams of fiber. That is 14% of your daily fiber
needs. White rice, on the other hand, contains around 0.6 grams of fiber per cup.
Minerals: 1 cup of brown rice provides 22% of daily magnesium needs, 15% of
phosphorus, and 6% of iron needs. Comparatively, white rice contains 15% of the daily
needs for iron, 6% of the daily needs for magnesium, and 7% of your daily need of

B Vitamins: Brown rice provides 13% of thiamine and niacin, 15% of vitamin B-6, and
2% of folate per serving. White rice is generally enriched with B vitamins, so it may have
as much as 21% thiamine, 17% niacin, and 46% folate, and only 2% vitamin B-6.
While there is no hard and fast rule saying you cannot eat white rice, it is important to
include other higher fiber grains in your diet.

In fact, an article in Consumer Reports in 2012 reported that several types of rice products you can get at the grocery store contain worrying levels of arsenic, which may increase your risk of developing cancer or other health issues. It is recommended that you limit how often you eat rice products to no more than three servings each week.

(NOTE: This product is no longer available.)

Where to Buy
UNCLE BEN’S Ready Rice
Tasty Bite Brown Rice with Quinoa & Lentils
Good Reason Organic Sprouted Brown Calrose Rice
SEEDS OF CHANGE Organic Quinoa & Brown Rice 8.5 Ounce
Wellsley Farms Organic Long-Grain Brown Rice
Lundberg Farms USDA ORGANIC Short Brown Rice Gluten Free 12 LB


UNCLE BEN’S Ready Rice: Whole Grain Brown (12pk)

You will get 12 packages of Uncle Ben’s whole grain brown rice. It can easily be
microwaved in 90 seconds. The convenient pouch eliminates prep and cleanup time. It
is an excellent source of folate and a good source of iron.

Tasty Bite Brown Rice with Quinoa & Lentils, 8.8 oz Pouch, 6 Count

These rice and lentil packages by Tasty Bites is brown rice, quinoa, and lentils which increase the dietary fiber. This can be fixed on the stovetop or in the microwave. The product is from India.

Good Reason Organic Sprouted Brown Calrose Rice, 2 Lb.

The organic sprouted brown Calrose rice by Good Reason provides 2 grams of dietary
fiber for each serving. It is flavorful and nutritious. This is delicious, sprouted, organic,
and nutrient-rich.

SEEDS OF CHANGE Organic Quinoa & Brown Rice 8.5 Ounce (Pack of 12)

Made with USDA certified-organic ingredients, this is a delicious blend of quinoa and
organic brown rice. Each one-cup serving has 3 grams of fiber. They also offer other
varieties including Brown & Red Rice with Chia and Kale, Organic Long Grain Brown
Rice, and Organic Red Beans & Brown Rice, as well as others.

Wellsley Farms Organic Long-Grain Brown Rice, 4 lbs.

This organic long-grain brown rice is 100% whole grain and non-GMO. It is certified
organic and comes in bags of 4 pounds. This Wellsley Farms rice is grown in the USA.

Lundberg Farms USDA ORGANIC Short Brown Rice Gluten-Free 12 LB

This organic short grain brown rice is from Lundberg. It is gluten-free and USDA organic
certified. There is 12 pounds of rice per bag. Instructions on how to cook the rice are
included on the package. It is full-flavored rice and has 3 grams of fiber per ¼ cup (dry)