Black, Red, Brown & White Rice – What’s the Difference?

Black, Red, Brown & White Rice – What’s the Difference?

At Naturally Yours we are often asked by our customers, what is the basic difference between Black, Red, Brown & White rice. What are its health benefits and how to use it?

To understand the difference you need to first understand the basic structure of a rice grain.

Rice Structure
As you can see in the above diagram the outermost hard covering on any rice grain is called chaff, once you remove this you get bran, then bran residue and finally the innermost part of the rice grain called the endosperm.

So basically it is very simple, Black, Brown & Red varieties of rice are all rice grains which are hulled to remove the external chaff. The only difference is in the color of the bran. So for a black rice variety the bran is black in color, for brown rice the bran is brown and for red rice varieties the bran is red in color.

When this bran and the bran residue are removed further then we get what is called as polished or white rice

In case of Hand-pounded varieties of rice the bran residue is intact and the chaff removal is done using manual pounding of rice using age old chaff removal techniques of using a wooden stick and stone base container.

In the below table I have given summarized the difference in the health benefits, soaking time, time to cook, water ratio required for cooking and the cooking time for Black, Red, Brown and White rice.

Particulars Black Rice Red Rice Brown Rice White Rice


High in fibre, has 3 times the fibre than that of brown rice High in Iron & zinc High In Fibre Has a lower nutrient value than other varieties.

The more the white the rice, lower its nutrient value.

Soaking Time 60mins 30mins 45mins No soaking required
Water Ratio 2 cups water


1 cup of rice

1.5cups to

1 cup of rice

2 cups


1 cup of rice

3 cups water


1 cup of rice

Cooking Time 20-30mins 35mins 35 mins 15-20mins

Note: You may use the above table as a reference or as a rule of thumb, the more water you use for cooking, the softer the rice.

As you can see, it is pretty simple, “the darker the shade of rice the more the nutrients it contains” is a simple thumb rule which you can use in case you are wondering which variety of rice is best for you.

References: Whfoods, Health Promotion Board Singapore, Wikipedia, livestrong.

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