Brown rice compared to white rice slows gastric emptying in humans

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Consumption of whole vs. refined grain foods is recommended by nutrition or dietary guideline authorities of many countries, yet specific aspects of whole grains leading to health benefits are not well understood. Gastric emptying rate is an important consideration, as it is tied to nutrient delivery rate and influences glycemic response. Our objective was to explore two aspects of cooked rice related to gastric emptying, (1) whole grain brown vs. white rice and (2) potential effect of elevated levels of slowly digestible starch (SDS) and resistant starch (RS) from high-amylose rice.


Ten healthy adult participants were recruited for a crossover design study involving acute feeding and testing of 6 rice samples (50 g available carbohydrate). Gastric emptying rate was measured using a 13C-labeled octanoic acid breath test. A rice variety (Cocodrie) with high-amylose content was temperature-cycled to increase SDS and RS fractions.


In vitro starch digestibility results showed incremental increase in RS in Cocodrie after two temperature cycles. For low-amylose varieties, SDS was higher in the brown rice form. In human subjects, low-amylose and high-amylose brown rice delayed gastric emptying compared to white rices regardless of amylose content or temperature-cycling (p < 0.05).


Whole grain brown rice had slower gastric emptying rate, which appears to be related to the physical presence of the bran layer. Extended gastric emptying of brown rice explains in part comparably low glycemic response observed for brown rice.

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We would like to acknowledge the Ingestive Behavior Research Center, the Industry Fellows Program in the Department of Food Science, and the Whistler Center for Carbohydrate Research for their financial support in this work.

Author information


  1. Department of Food Science, Whistler Center for Carbohydrate Research, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA

    • Elizabeth A. Pletsch
    •  & Bruce R. Hamaker


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Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Bruce R. Hamaker.