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What is Milled Rice?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Milled rice could essentially be called white rice. Unlike typical brown rice, which has only the husk removed, it also has the rice bran layer and the germ of the rice removed. This tends to make for fluffier rice, that is usually white to light yellow in color, and is not quite as high in nutritional content.

The process for removing bran and germ is more extensive than that for preparing brown rice. In other words, milled rice is slightly more “processed” food than is brown rice. This rice tends to undergo a polishing process too, and since polishing removes most of the vitamin content of the rice, it may be enriched with vitamins in order to make up for the removed nutrients. Some countries like the US mandate the enrichment of milled rice, and require the rice to be treated with several B vitamins and iron. If these are added with powder, instructions on rice packages may suggest that you not rinse the rice, since this will result in removing these added nutrients.

Undoubtedly, brown rice is significantly better for you than milled rice, but many people still prefer the lighter taste of white rice. Milling tends to remove most of the dietary fiber. In a 3.5-ounce (about 100 g) serving of cooked white rice you get about a third of a gram of dietary fiber. This is roughly one sixth of the amount of dietary fiber you would receive if you consumed brown rice instead, which for the same serving size offers 1.8 grams of dietary fiber.

Both milled and brown rice are low in fat, and fairly low in protein. White rice is higher in calories than is brown. It has about 20 more calories per serving size than does brown, and it is higher in total carbohydrates than brown rice. From a nutritional standpoint alone, milled rice is frequently inferior, and most nutrition and diet experts recommend eating the whole grain brown rice instead.

Nevertheless, milled rice or white rice remains an important dietary staple, not just in the US but also in many parts of the world. It has old associations with being the rice of the “wealthy.” Poorer folks could not afford the extra milling process and had to eat their rice brown. In this respect, using the grain in less processed form was actually of nutritional benefit, probably one of the few instances in earlier days when the poor actually had a better diet than the rich.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By julies — On Apr 19, 2012

There are many people in countries around the world who still eat rice as a main staple in their diet.

I helped package some meals for an organization called Meals from the Heartland. They pacakge meals to send around the world to people in need. Included in these packaged meals was rice, beans and some form of protein powder.

Most of the meals we packaged the day I was there were sent to people living in Haiti. Some of these packages have also been sent to people in the United States who were victims of the hurricanes.

I am sure the people who received these meals weren't concerned about the rice being milled or brown. For them, this rice was a matter of survival.

By LisaLou — On Apr 18, 2012

The milling of rice sounds similar to the way white flour is processed and then enriched with certain vitamins.

Eating white bread also used to be a status of the wealthy, just like eating milled rice. I remember my grandma talking about how exciting it was when they were able to buy bread from the store.

Once they quit making the bread at home, many of the healthy nutrients were taken out of it. Just as those who ate brown rice were consuming a healthier rice, the same goes with those who ate whole grain bread versus those who ate bread made with processed flour.

If kids are used to eating white rice, it is hard to get to change to brown rice. I have found it a little bit easier if I mix them together instead of serving them straight brown rice.

By Mykol — On Apr 17, 2012

If I am going to eat white rice, I prefer to have it steamed instead fried. At most Chinese restaurants, you have your choice whether you want steamed or fried rice.

I think the steamed rice is probably healthier depending on what they use to fry the rice. As I have started to add more whole grains to my diet, I have found that my taste in rice has changed.

If given the choice now, I would prefer to eat brown rice over milled or white rice. I think it takes as long to get used to the different texture as it does the taste.

Because brown rice is not as fluffy, it has a chewier texture to it than white rice. My family won't eat brown rice though, so whenever I make anything with rice at home, I still use white rice.

By bear78 — On Apr 16, 2012

I'm so glad I found out more about the milling of rice. I thought that milled rice is white because they use food coloring to make it white. I had no idea that milling means the removal of several rice layers.

I know that brown rice is better than white rice. I would eat it if I could, but I just can't. Like @truman12, I love my white rice. I think brown rice tastes horrible not to mention that it takes forever to cook.

I don't know why but milled rice cooks so much faster and tastes a lot better. It's also a lot softer than brown rice. It's just not the same and it's not easy to switch all of the sudden. My family is Hispanic and we eat a lot of white rice. I don't think I could ever switch to brown, even though I know it's healthier.

By serenesurface — On Apr 16, 2012

@tigers88-- Traditionally sushi is made with short-grain sticky white rice. But there are more and more restaurants that make it with brown rice these days.

Next time you go to your favorite sushi place, you should ask them if they make any with brown rice. They may have it available and you just don't know it. If you make it home, you can easily replace white rice with brown.

I always have sushi with brown rice. It doesn't affect the flavor at all and I think it's a lot more filling than white rice.

By discographer — On Apr 15, 2012

@whiteplane-- I don't think we should label all milled rice to be evil without looking at the glycemic index ratings of different mild rices. Not all milled rice is the same.

I don't really look at the contents of foods, I prefer to look at their glycemic index which tells us more about how it affects our body. Certain kinds of milled rice is bad because they have a high glycemic index like short-grain rice, glutinous rice and those 5 min instant rices. What this means is that these kinds of milled rice cause sharp increases in blood sugar which is bad.

Long-grain milled rice like Jasmine or Basmati on the other hand are better because they have medium glycemic index. They still cause an increase in blood sugar but not as bad.

And it is true that brown rice is the best of all because it has a low glycemic index. This means that it has a very small effect on our blood sugar.

If our blood sugar goes up and down too much, which it does with high glycemic index foods, we will store fat, gain weight and can develop insulin resistance in the long-term.

By whiteplane — On Apr 14, 2012

I think that white rice has gotten a bad reputation in the last couple of years. I know a number of people who refuse to eat it. But lets be real, huge parts of the world's population live on this as the centerpiece of their diet. How many overweight Vietnamese people have you seen?

The problem is not the white rice but the things we usually eat with white rice. Think of Chinese food which is mostly fried meat covered in oily sauces. It doesn't matter if you switched to brown rice, that meal will still be really bad for you. So don't worry so much about white rice, worry about the things you eat with it.

By tigers88 — On Apr 13, 2012

@anon15538 - I think most sushi is made with milled rice. In fact I have never seen sushi that did not use some kind of white rice. I do not know if it is just normal long grain rice like you can find in anyone's cupboard or some kind of special sushi rice. But I know it's not brown.

By truman12 — On Apr 13, 2012

I know that brown rice is so much better for you than white rice, but I still prefer the white rice. The flavor is so much better and I like the texture better too.

I figure that not every single part of my diet has to be as healthy as possible. I eat wheat bread and I try to eat wheat pasta whenever I can. I also eat other grains like bulgar and quinoa. So if I want to have a little bit of white rice with my Chinese food I think I deserve it.

By anon15538 — On Jul 14, 2008

Can milled rice be used to make sushi?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia...
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