Fried Rice Vs. Brown Rice: What’s The Difference?

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Fried rice and brown rice with a text "fried rice vs brown rice"

Asian-inspired restaurants offer different types of rice as both sides and main dishes. Most commonly offer white and fried rice, though you can also find brown rice at most places. What’s the difference between fried rice and brown rice?

Fried rice with vegetables in a container  with a logo of fooducopia in the lower right side of the image.

Fried rice and brown rice are two different dishes. Brown rice is rice with the outer hull removed. It’s chewy and nutty and low in fat and calories. Fried rice is white rice fried in oil and mixed with eggs and veggies. Fried rice has more calories and is higher in sodium. 

What Is Fried Rice?

Fried rice is cooked rice fried in a wok with oil. Usually, fried rice is made with white rice, though you can use brown rice.  

Fried rice has added veggies, eggs or egg whites, and sometimes meat. Usually, fried rice also has soy sauce, oyster sauce, or fish sauce. 

Is Fried Rice Healthy?

Fried rice is not the healthiest choice. Since fried rice is fried in oil, it contains many calories and carbohydrates but little fiber. Fried rice is also high in salt because it has soy sauce or fish sauce. 

What Is Brown Rice?

Brown rice is rice that has the bran and germ intact. All rice comes from the same plant. As part of the milling process, the inedible hull is removed. Then, brown rice is polished and packaged. 

Brown rice has a chewy texture and a nutty flavor. It has more nutrients than white rice. The bram and germ both provide B vitamins. The germ is a good source of vitamin E and antioxidants.  

Cooked brown rice in a rice cooker with plastic ladle with a logo of fooducopia in the lower right side of the image.

White rice requires more milling. White rice has the bran and germ removed before being packaged. It is more easily digestible than brown rice but has fewer nutrients. 

Is Brown Rice Healthier Than Fried Rice?

Brown rice is healthier than fried rice. Plain brown rice has little fat and calories but plenty of fiber. Brown rice is safe for people with diabetes because it doesn’t raise blood sugar as quickly as white rice. 

Brown rice is low on the Glycemic Index, a scale created to measure the effects of food on your blood sugar. Brown rice has a GI of 55, which is on the low end of the scale. White rice has a GI of 64, which is in the medium range of the scale. 

Can You Use Brown Rice For Fried Rice?

Yes, you can use brown rice to make fried rice. Simply substitute brown rice for white rice in your favorite fried rice recipe. Your fried brown rice will taste nutty and rich if you make it with brown rice. 

Fried Rice Vs. Brown Rice Nutrition

A half cup of brown rice contains: 

  • 124 calories
  • 26 carbs
  • 1.6 grams of fiber
  • 1 gram of fat
  • 5 mg of sodium

Brown rice is a good source of magnesium, potassium, and manganese. Magnesium helps your muscles and nerves function properly. It also helps control your blood sugar. 

A half cup of fried rice averages:

  • 176 calories
  • 27.5 carbs
  • 4 grams of fat
  • 277 mg of sodium

Sodium is essential for your body because it helps maintain the correct balance of fluid levels. Most Americans consume at least 3,400 mg of sodium per day. The FDA recommends adults restrict their sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg daily. That’s the amount in one teaspoon of salt. 

3 Tips To Make Fried Rice Healthier

There are a few ways to increase the nutrition of fried rice:

Add More Veggies 

Cabbage, chopped broccoli, green beans, and cauliflower rice are great ways to add more nutrients and fiber to your fried rice. Cooked cabbage is an excellent source of Vitamins C and K. 

Cooked veggies in a pan with a logo of fooducopia in the lower right side of the image.

Use Low-Sodium Sauces 

Low-sodium soy sauce has about 40% less sodium than regular soy sauce. If you’re watching your salt intake, make your fried rice with low-sodium sauces

Fry Your Rice In Sesame Oil

Toasted sesame oil is a great healthy alternative to vegetable or canola oil. Sesame oil has a smoke point of 410° F. It’s rich in vitamins E and K. Toasted sesame oil adds a nutty flavor that compliments fried rice perfectly. 

Know that it’s also okay to enjoy traditional fried rice. If you make your own, use white rice, your favorite oil, and your favorite sauces. Fried rice can be part of a healthy lifestyle if you enjoy it occasionally. 

I enjoy ordering traditional fried rice at local restaurants because it’s flavorful and crispy. When I make it at home, I often make a healthier version to reduce calories and sodium. My favorite veggie combo includes peas, carrots, and green beans. Fried rice is easy to make with foods from my pantry storage. 

Cans, strips of chicken and rice in container with a logo of fooducopia in the lower right side of the image.

The Bottom Line

Brown rice is healthier than fried rice. Brown rice is lower in calories, fat, and sodium. Fried rice is made from cooked white rice fried in oil. Most fried rice recipes call for eggs or egg whites, an assortment of veggies, and soy sauce. 

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