What Are the Health Benefits of Brown Rice and Steamed Vegetables?

by Sirah Dubois

Brown rice and steamed vegetables makes a very nutritious meal.

Burwell and Burwell Photography/E+/Getty Images

The health benefits of eating brown rice and steamed vegetables are numerous, including a reduced risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, less tissue damage due to free radical oxidation and improved digestion. Brown rice is a more nutritious alternative to white rice or noodles. Steaming vegetables is the best way to preserve the nutrients and flavor. Combining whole grains with vegetables and legumes is a good way for vegetarians to get essential amino acids. Consult with a nutritionist about how much brown rice and vegetables are appropriate for you each day.

Brown Rice

Brown rice is more nutritious than white rice because it has only the outer layer or hull removed from the grain. In contrast, white rice is more refined and has several layers removed, which reduces its nutritional content. Brown rice is relatively high in soluble fiber, which makes you feel full for longer and reduces the chances of over-eating. Fiber also promotes intestinal motility and regular bowel movements, as well as balances blood cholesterol levels. Compared to white rice, brown varieties have a lower glycemic index, which means less dramatic impact on blood sugar levels and more balanced release of insulin. Brown rice contains many essential minerals, especially manganese, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and most of the B-vitamins. One cup of brown rice contains about 215 calories, 5 grams of protein, very little sodium and no cholesterol.


Vegetables are always recommended by nutritionists and health experts, although many people are still reluctant to include them in their diets in significant amounts. Not only are many vegetables high in insoluble fiber, but they often contain a wide range of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that act as powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants eliminate free radicals, which are linked to blood vessel damage and tissue aging. Some vegetables, such as broccoli, contain compounds that deter cancer cells, according to “Public Health Nutrition.” Vegetables are generally low-calorie and some, such as carrot, celery and cucumber, are so low in calories that metabolizing them burns more calories than they contain. Between two and three cups of vegetables each day are recommended by most health authorities.

Benefits of Steaming

Steaming is generally considered the best way to cook vegetables because it does not destroy nutrients as much as frying, boiling, grilling and even sauteing does, according to “Nutritional Sciences for Human Health.” With more nutrients, vegetables are healthier and often more flavorful. Steaming vegetables also makes them easier to digest because they are softer and easier to chew. Well-chewed and digested veggies lead to less indigestion and bloating. Furthermore, steaming vegetables does not require oil, which is helpful if you are on a low-fat diet.

Food Combining

Combining brown rice with steamed vegetables makes for an exceptionally healthy meal because of all the vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, essential fatty acids and protein. Most vegetables are low in protein or amino acids, so combining them with healthy grains, such as brown rice, is important, especially for vegetarians. Brown rice is not a complete source of protein, but adding corn and beans can compensate for some of the missing amino acids.


  • The Nutribase Complete Book of Food Counts; Art Ulene
  • Public Health Nutrition: From Principles to Practice; Mark Lawrence and Tony Worsley
  • Nutritional Sciences for Human Health; Stanislas Berger et al.

Photo Credits

  • Burwell and Burwell Photography/E+/Getty Images

About the Author

Sirah Dubois is currently a PhD student in food science after having completed her master's degree in nutrition at the University of Alberta. She has worked in private practice as a dietitian in Edmonton, Canada and her nutrition-related articles have appeared in The Edmonton Journal newspaper.