White rice is basically brown rice without its husk. The husk contains minerals, vitamins and higher fiber. The bran fiber is also responsible for tempering the release of glucose into the bloodstream, so sugar levels don't shoot up.
"Our body is really designed to digest unprocessed foods," said Dr. John de Beixedon, an internal medicine physician at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena.
Now new evidence reveals making the switch from white rice to brown can reduce your risk of getting Type 2 diabetes.
Dr. de Beixedon says that's because eating white processed foods is just like eating sugar.
"When things are processed, they're crushed, they're rubbed, the cell walls are fractured. And when the cell walls are fractured it increases the carbs, increases the sugar in the food," said Dr. de Beixedon.
In the study of more than a 190,000 men and women, researchers found a simple dietary change such as switching out a third cup of white rice for a third cup of brown rice could reduce your risk of getting type 2 diabetes by 16 percent. Better yet, if you eliminate white rice all together it could reduce your risk 36 percent.
Participants were followed for 22 years. Those who ate five or more servings of white rice each week had a 17 percent higher risk of becoming diabetic than those who had less than one serving a month.
Critics argue that brown rice is still a high carb food, and both kinds of rice should be consumed in moderation.