Health Benefits Of Eating Brown Rice During Pregnancy

8 min read

Written by Team Being The Parent

Team Being The Parent

We support parents through the journey of Pregnancy & Parenthood with our insightful and well curated content.

Brown rice in spoon

A pregnant woman’s diet and lifestyle play a crucial role in the healthy progression of the pregnancy and the well-being of the unborn baby. It is a well-known fact, for half of the world population (particularly in East and Southeast Asia), rice is a staple food. Eating brown rice during pregnancy can be much healthier than eating white rice.

Wondering how the color of the rice makes brown rice during pregnancy a healthier option? Read on to understand more about brown rice and why eating brown rice during pregnancy is the healthier option.

In This Article

What is Brown Rice?

Brown rice is nothing but whole-grain rice. Only the outer hull is removed, while the bran layer and cereal germ will remain intact. Brown rice has a gentle, nutty flavor, and is chewier. Whole brown rice normally requires more cooking time than white rice. You can bypass this issue by using broken brown rice.

If the hull, bran layer, and germ are removed from the same grain, it is our normal white rice. The rice grains can have a differently pigmented outer layer. Therefore, other than brown rice, you can also find different varieties of whole rice like red rice, gold rice, and black rice (purple rice).

What is the Nutritional Value of Brown Rice?

Brown rice nutrition facts:

  • Calories 216 calories
  • Carbohydrates 44.8 grams
  • Protein 5 grams
  • Fat 1.8 grams
  • Fiber 3.5 grams
  • Manganese 1.8 milligrams which make out 88% of RDI
  • Selenium 19.1 micrograms which make out 27% of RDI
  • Magnesium 83.9 milligrams which make out 21% of RDI
  • Phosphorus 162 milligrams which make out 16% of RDI
  • Niacin 3 milligrams which make out 15% of RDI
  • Vitamin B6 0.3 milligram which makes out 14% of RDI
  • Thiamine 0.2 milligrams which makes out 12% of RDI
  • Copper 0.2 milligram which makes out 10% of RDI
  • Zinc 1.2 milligrams which make out 8% of RDI
  • Pantothenic acid 0.6 milligrams which make out 6% of RDI
  • Iron 8 milligram which makes out 5% of RDI
  • Folate 7.9 micrograms which make out 2% of RDI
  • Calcium 19.5 milligrams which make out 2% of RDI
  • Potassium 83.9 milligrams which make out 2% of RDI

Is Brown Rice Safe During Pregnancy?

Yes. If you are craving rice, brown rice is a healthy option. As explained above, its nutrition content is quite impressive and offers a number of health benefits. When consumed in moderation, it will be a nutrient-rich addition to your pregnancy menu.

14 Incredible Benefits of Eating Brown Rice During Pregnancy

brown rice salad

Brown rice during pregnancy is considered to be a healthy option due to the following reasons:

1. Brings Down the Bad Cholesterol Level

The biggest benefit of brown rice during pregnancy is, it reduces your LDL (bad cholesterol and improves your HDL (good cholesterol).

2. Rich in Manganese

Everyone talks about vitamins and proteins when it comes to good health. Brown rice is rich in manganese, the mineral that is very important in the development of bones, regulating the sugar levels in the blood, functioning of the nerve, and also healing wounds.

A deficiency in manganese can cause serious health issues like low fertility, and growth impairment.

3. Rich in Antioxidants

Eating brown rice during pregnancy can be good for you as it is rich in flavonoids and phenols, a category of antioxidants that protects our bodies from oxidative stress.

These antioxidants also protect the heart, skin from premature aging and injury to the cells that are caused by free radicals.

4. Helps to Combat Mood Swings and Insomnia

Mood swings and insomnia are a given when you are pregnant. Very few women are lucky to not struggle through sleepless nights and uncontrollable mood swings.

Consuming brown rice during pregnancy can help with insomnia as it contains melatonin, a “sleep” hormone that unwinds the nerves and, thereby enhancing the quality of sleep. It also has some elements which are very beneficial in combating stress and mood swings during pregnancy.

5. Rich in Fiber

The fiber content of brown rice helps not only to balance the blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar levels but also makes you feel full. It enhances bowel movement and thereby brings relief from other troubling conditions during pregnancy such as constipation. Brown rice during pregnancy also protects pregnant women from cardiovascular diseases.

6. Prevents the Risk of Urogenital Issues

Brown rice has a diuretic property (increasing the frequency of urination). This property of brown rice is beneficial for pregnant women to prevent the risk of urogenital issues.

Brown rice cube

7. Brown Rice Provides Instant Energy

Brown rice contains niacin, a coenzyme needed for energy production. It also has high amounts of carbohydrates, another source of energy. Any pregnant woman would tell you how tired she feels all the time, especially as the pregnancy progresses. Therefore, eating brown rice during pregnancy will help to boost your energy level.

8. Helps to Maintain Blood Pressure

High blood pressure during pregnancy can lead to many complications during and even before the delivery itself. Brown rice has low sodium content. Therefore, consuming brown rice during pregnancy helps to regulate blood pressure which is very important for a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery.

9. Promotes Baby’s Growth

Brown rice is a rich source of neurotransmitter nutrients that helps in the baby’s brain development and (future) cognitive functions.

10. Prevents Putting on Extra Weight

Weight gain during pregnancy is something you cannot really control. While gaining weight is a healthy progression of the pregnancy, gaining too much weight too soon may cause other complications. Eating brown rice during pregnancy can help you keep your weight gain in check.

This is because this variety of rice is rich in fiber and keeps you feeling full longer. Though there is not much difference between white rice and brown rice calories, there is a significant difference in their starch levels. Brown rice does not make you gain weight as fast as white rice.

11. Helps to Strengthen Bone

Brown rice during pregnancy is important for the bones. Magnesium, along with calcium, gives the bones their physical structure. Brown rice also has a significant amount of essential nutrients such as vitamin D, thiamine, and riboflavin which help to strengthen bones and teeth.

The developing fetus takes all that it needs from the mother’s body. If the mother’s bones are not strong, not only will the growing baby lose out on essential calcium content, but the mother will also be prone to bone-related issues in the future.

12. Helps to Combat Gestational Diabetes

The presence of large insoluble fiber and its low glycemic content make brown rice an apt food to regulate your blood sugar levels during pregnancy. Therefore, eating brown rice during pregnancy helps combat gestational diabetes, which is common during pregnancy.

13. Prevents Cancer

Being rich in antioxidants, brown rice helps to fight the free radicals in your body. This prevents certain types of cancer and increases the expecting mother’s strength to fight infections.

14. Reduces Vomiting and Nausea

Being a good source of fiber, brown rice helps you feel full. Do you know one of the tactics for combating morning sickness is to not get hungry? Well, brown rice can help the symptoms of nausea to subside.

Why is Brown Rice Considered Superior to White Rice?

brown rice vs white rice

Brown rice calories do not differ from that of white rice. The difference lies in the nutritional value.

Only the husk is removed to make the brown rice, which leaves all the inherited nutrient content in this super grain intact. This is a major reason why brown rice during pregnancy is a healthy option.

In the case of white rice, layers below the husk are also removed. Therefore, only the starchy endosperm remains. In other words, numerous vitamins and minerals in the grain will be lost during this process. As the barn is removed, the oil that is present in the barn, which is highly nutritious, is also removed from white rice.

White rice is starchy which in turn increases the glucose content in your blood. It also takes time to digest this type. Eating white rice can also hinder your sleep at night.

Brown rice, on the other hand, is a powerhouse of nutrients. It is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, fiber, proteins, magnesium, selenium, and manganese.

Is it OK to Eat Brown Rice Every Day?

Daily consumption of brown rice is not considered safe. Because it has a very high arsenic content. Arsenic increases the risk of death of the fetus. Therefore, overeating brown rice should be avoided.

If you are not diagnosed with gestational diabetes or are not put on any specific rice-free diet, you can alternate between white and brown rice to satiate those cravings.

How Much Brown Rice is Safe to Have During Pregnancy?

How Much Brown Rice is Safe to Have During Pregnancy_

When it comes to eating during pregnancy, moderation is the key. Be it white rice or brown rice during pregnancy; do not overload.  Ensure your rice is well cooked, to avoid any constipation or other digestion-related issues.

If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes or are gaining too much weight too fast, your doctor might advise you to reduce your rice intake. Though the benefits of brown rice during pregnancy are many, eating too much of it is not advisable.

How to Reduce the Arsenic Content in Brown Rice?

Arsenic is of two types – organic, which is found naturally in groundwater and soil; inorganic- which is found in chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Either way, you can’t overlook the chances of excessive arsenic levels in brown rice. Since the bran has a considerable amount of arsenic, brown rice contains more arsenic than white rice.

When you cook the brown rice in a large quantity of water, the arsenic content will decrease. On the flip side, boiling the rice for long can also bring down some of the protein and nutrition contents.

Brown rice in pressure cooker

Are There Any Side Effects of Eating Brown Rice During Pregnancy?

  • Pregnancy is not really the right time to try anything new, simply because you might develop an allergy to it. Always get your doctor’s approval and try the brown rice in moderation.
  • Arsenic poisoning is a major worry during pregnancy. Eating brown rice during pregnancy may not seem to be a great idea for this single reason.
  • Brown rice during pregnancy is not an alternative to your regular white rice consumption. The quantity consumed should always be kept in check. The safest option here is to consult a professional dietician or your doctor.

How to Select and Store Brown Rice?


You can easily find brown rice at any grocery store. It is recommended to opt for organic brown rice as its arsenic content will be less.


Always store brown rice in an airtight container. Keep it away from heat, light, and moisture. If you follow this, the shelf life of brown rice will be around six months. If you want to extend it, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator or even the freezer.

Brown rice during pregnancy can be a great addition to your diet as seen above. However, only your gynecologist who knows your medical history can guide you properly. Check with them; if they give you a go-ahead for consuming brown rice during pregnancy, you can always search for brown rice recipes and enjoy hearty meals.


1. Can Brown Rice Reduce Weight During Pregnancy?

To an extent, yes. Pregnancy weight gain is unavoidable. Brown rice adds lesser weight than white rice.

2. Can I Eat Brown Rice to Control Pregnancy Weight Gain?

Yes, it can. It has low LDL. Thus, helping you keep weight under control.

3. Can Brown Rice Prevent UTIs?

Yes, it can. It has diuretic properties. This will increase urination, thus avoiding infections.

4. Will Brown Rice Help Fetus?

Yes, it can. It is rich in nutrients that can be passed to the baby. It aids in the cognitive development of the child.

Team Being The Parent,

We support parents through the journey of Pregnancy & Parenthood with our insightful and well curated content.Read more.

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