Brown Rice Vs. Potatoes: Which One Should You Eat?

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Brown rice in a plate and sweet potatoes and potatoes in the side with a text "brown rice vs potatoes"

Both potatoes and brown rice are staple foods around the world. They come in many varieties and are easy to prepare in multiple ways. Which is healthier, brown rice or potatoes?

Both potatoes and brown rice supply nutrients to our bodies. Brown rice may be slightly better because it is lower on the Glycemic Index. But potatoes are easy to digest and a comfort food for many.

Is It Better To Eat Potatoes Or Brown Rice?

Both potatoes and brown rice contain beneficial nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The best choice for you depends on your dietary needs and health goals. 

One significant difference between potatoes and brown rice is that potatoes can be higher on the Glycemic Index. Some varieties are near the top of the GI scale, which means they cause your blood sugar to rise quickly. If you’re concerned about keeping your blood sugar steady, brown rice is a better choice. 

Health Benefits of Potatoes

Potatoes are a complex carb. Complex carbs contain fiber and starch, which break down into glucose in your body. Your body needs glucose to fuel your cells. 

Potatoes contain plenty of fiber, especially when you eat them with the skin. Fiber helps your body digest food and enables you to feel full. 

I always leave the skin on when I make mashed potatoes. I hardly notice the skins after I whip the potatoes with butter and milk. The next time you make mashed potatoes, try leaving some of the skins on your potatoes. 

Mashed spuds, seen from the top, all expertly flavored!

Potatoes also contain: 

  • Vitamin C which helps your body absorb iron and supports your immune system.
  • Potassium, which helps support healthy muscles and nerves.
  • Vitamin B6, which helps support a healthy brain
  • Manganese, which helps your body absorb calcium and regulate your blood sugar

One caution about potatoes is that your body digests potatoes more quickly than other complex carbs like brown rice. So they can spike your blood sugar. Repeated spikes in blood sugar, along with other factors, may lead to Type 2 diabetes. 

Yellow or red potatoes are the best for keeping your blood sugar steady. White potatoes like Idaho and Russets can raise your blood sugar almost as much as a soda can. 

Farm Fresh Red & Gold Spuds in a Market.

Health Benefits of Brown Rice

Brown rice is also a complex carb and a whole grain. Brown rice is a good source of fiber, which can help lower your blood pressure and relieve constipation.

Brown rice helps keep your blood sugar steady. Your body digests brown rice slowly, which prevents your blood sugar from spiking.  

Brown rice also contains:

  • Iron, which is essential for red blood cells
  • Magnesium, which supports healthy bones
  • Selenium helps keep your brain and your thyroid healthy
  • Calcium, which helps support muscles, nerves, and bones

Brown rice is low on the Glycemic Index. Brown rice is a good choice for people with diabetes or those looking to maintain steady blood sugar. 

Is Brown Rice Lower In Carbs Than A Potato?

Potatoes are slightly lower in carbs than brown rice. It’s difficult to compare because potatoes come in different varieties and can be cooked in many ways. One cup of cooked brown rice has 44 grams of carbohydrates. 

One medium potato with the skin has 26 grams of carbohydrates. One cup of mashed potatoes contains 35 grams of carbohydrates. Meanwhile, a medium serving of french fries contains about 50 grams of carbs. 

Brown Rice Vs. Potatoes For Weight Loss

Both potatoes and brown rice can be beneficial for weight loss.

They both: 

  • Have fiber, which helps you feel full.
  • Help keep your blood sugar steady, which can reduce cravings.
  • Supply your body with essential nutrients that help you feel your best. 

I especially enjoy how easy brown rice is to prepare. I use my rice cooker, add a few seasonings, and let my brown rice cook while concentrating on other tasks. When my rice cooker is done, I have a pot of perfectly cooked brown rice waiting for me.

Some potatoes do cause your blood sugar to rise significantly. Signs of rapidly rising blood sugar include:

  • sleepiness 
  • excessive thirst 
  • Increasing hunger 

If you experience these symptoms soon after eating potatoes, you may need to switch to brown rice. Each person responds differently to potatoes. Some can eat them in moderation without experiencing any adverse effects. Others find they hinder weight loss. 

Which Is Easier To Digest: Brown Rice Or Potatoes?

Potatoes are slightly easier to digest than brown rice. Your body breaks down potatoes quickly since they are high in starch. The high-fiber content of brown rice means it takes your body longer to digest it. 

Brown rice contains an antinutrient phytate, which makes it harder for your body to digest. Phytate interferes with your body’s absorption of iron and zinc. If you have low iron, brown rice may not be the best choice.  

Baked Potatoes Vs. Mashed Potatoes

Remember that potatoes come in a variety of forms. Fried potatoes are the most unhealthy and should be eaten in moderation. Baked potatoes can be healthy, depending on what toppings you add. Limit cheese and sour cream, and add more proteins and veggies. You’ll get more fiber if you eat some of the skin. Mashed potatoes, made with small amounts of butter and milk, are usually a good choice.

Sweet Potatoes

Closeup of sweet potatoes on wood background.

Sweet potatoes are generally healthier than regular potatoes because they are lower on the Glycemic Index. Sweet potatoes also contain high amounts of beta-carotene, which your body converts into Vitamin A. 

Vitamin A: 

  • Supports eye health
  • Supports your immune system
  • Helps protect your eye cells from damage

Enjoy baked or mashed sweet potatoes frequently. Add as little fat and oil as possible to keep calories low. 

Both brown rice and sweet potatoes are healthy. They are both complex carbs with plenty of fiber and low on the Glycemic index.

The Bottom Line

Both brown rice and potatoes offer numerous health benefits. Potatoes contain more starch, which may cause blood sugar spikes in some individuals. Both contain fiber, which helps you feel full and supports healthy weight loss. Sweet potatoes are better for some individuals than regular potatoes since they are lower on the Glycemic Index. 

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