Black Rice vs. Brown Rice – What’s the Difference? (ANSWERED)

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Black Rice vs Brown Rice

Black rice and brown rice are often touted as healthier alternatives to white rice and other simple carbohydrates. When trying to pick between the two, have you ever wondered what the difference is between brown rice and black rice?

If you have, you are reading the right article.

In this guide, we will look at:

  • The differences between black rice and brown rice.
  • How they differ in taste.
  • How brown and black rice affect your blood sugar levels.
  • The nutritional values of black and brown rice.
  • How cooking brown and black rice differs.

Let’s begin.

What’s the Difference Between Black Rice and Brown Rice? Are They The Same?

brown rice

Though both are members of the Asian rice family (Oryza sativa), brown rice and black rice are very different. The most apparent difference is black rice is a dark purple to black color, and Brown rice is, well, brown.

These differences are because black rice is a different strain with high pigment levels in its outer layer and is an unmilled or, at worse, semi-milled rice. Brown rice is essentially white rice that hasn’t had all the nutrition milled away. Brown rice has had its outer hull removed, exposing its bran layer and cereal germ, giving it a brown color, and white rice has had these layers removed.  

Beyond the obvious visual difference, this means that black rice is also far superior to brown rice in terms of nutrition and health benefits

Black rice contains ten times more antioxidants than brown rice. The phytonutrients (anthocyanins, lutein, and zeaxanthin) in its pigmented outer layer may: 

  • Inhibit the growth of human cancer cells.
  • Protect against heart disease.
  • Prevent hay fever and asthma attacks. 
  • Lower blood sugar levels.
  • Support eye health.
  • Decrease your risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Black rice also has an advantage in terms of protein content, amino acids, and most vitamins and minerals.

Taste Differences


Both black rice and brown rice are much more flavorful than white rice. With Brown rice, though, the difference is much less dramatic. Black rice has a strong nutty flavor with earthy undertones that can take a little getting used to, but once the taste is acquired it is hard to give up. 

Brown has a similar taste to black rice but at a much milder level. It is nutty and can be a little grassy, but these notes are muted by the starchy white rice core of the grains.

Brown Rice vs. Black Rice Glycemic Index

black rice lower glycemic index

The glycemic index is a scale used to rate how foods affect your blood sugar (glucose) levels. The higher and faster the rise caused by a portion of food, the higher it will place on the scale. Doctors use the glycemic index to aid in the management of weight loss, diabetes, and cholesterol. 

Generally, foods that fall lower on the glycemic index are considered healthier because they cause more minor insulin spikes. Insulin spikes have been found to cause damage to blood vessels, organs, and nerves. 

Due to its slower digestion rate and more complex nature, black rice falls lower on the glycemic index than brown rice.

Black Rice

Black rice has an average glycemic index of 43 which is considered low (below 55). This places it in the same category as other healthy foods like apricots, yogurt, lentils, apples, and bananas.

Brown Rice

Brown rice has an average glycemic index of 50. While still far superior to other starchy foods like potatoes, white rice, or most types of bread, it is still several points higher than that of black rice. 

Which is Better Black or Brown Rice?

black rice earthy flavor

Brown rice and black rice are both healthier alternatives to white rice and other classic carbohydrates, but overall black rice is far superior in almost every way.

Black rice:

  • Is higher in fiber.
  • Is higher in protein.
  • Is lower in calories.
  • Is more nutritious.
  • Is tastier.
  • Has added health benefits.

The only area that brown rice may be able to compete with black rice is in flavor. Both have a sweet, nutty taste, but Black rice has a stronger earthy note that some people initially find objectionable. This is purely a matter of preference and is easily overcome by exposure. Once the taste for black rice is acquired, other types of rice pale in comparison. 

Nutrition Table

Per 100g Cooked Black Rice Cooked Brown Rice
Calories  145 (7% DV) 112 (6% DV)
Fat 0g03 0.8g
Carbohydrates 33.3g 24g
Protein 2.9g 2.3g
Cholesterol 0mg 0mg
Fiber 0g 1.8g
Sugar 0g g
Iron 0mg 0.5mg
Vitamin A 0 0
Vitamin C 0 0
Vitamin B1 0mg 01mg
Vitamin B2 0mg 0mg
Vitamin B5 0 0
Vitamin B12 0 0
Biotin 0 0
Folate 0 0
Vitamin E 0mg 0mg
Vitamin D 0 0
Vitamin K 0 0
Vitamin K1 0 0

Cooking Time

cook brown rice

Black rice is un-milled, meaning the fiber and vitamin-rich outer layer (bran) and its nutritious underlying fatty layer are left intact. Brown rice is semi-milled, and its outer husk has been removed. Because of these differences, they vary slightly in their cooking requirements.

Black Rice

brown rice cooking time

Because it is more complex black rice can take almost twice as long to cook as brown rice. Black rice comes in many varieties and can be cooked using several different methods:

  • Absorption method.
  • Pasta method.
  • Pilaf method.
  • In rice cookers.

Depending on the particular black rice’s kernel size, the cooking method, and the amount to be prepared, it can take from 20 to 50 minutes to cook black rice. It is best to experiment with small batches till you get used to cooking black rice.

Brown Rice

brown rice structure

You can cook brown rice using any of the same cooking methods used for black rice. Because brown rice is less complex in structure, though, it absorbs water much quicker. Depending on the technique used and the amount to be prepared, cooking times for brown rice will be from 10 to 30 minutes.