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Brown rice vs Pasta: Difference & Similarities

This article explains the key similarities and differences between brown rice and pasta, foods from the grains food group. Read on to learn more about the brown rice vs pasta comparison.
Esther Bumpus, Health Writer

Written by Esther Bumpus, Health Writer. Updated on January 27, 2023.

Brown rice and pasta belong to the grains food group, one of the staple food groups for people on a plant-based diet.

Grains and grain products are an affordable source of carbohydrates, as well as essential vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins (such as thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin), iron, and zinc, minerals that are usually harder to get on a plant-based diet.

They also provide a small amount of protein and healthy fats.

However, it is important to note that whole grains are generally a better source of these nutrients than refined grains.

This article will thoroughly compare brown rice and pasta and help you learn more about their similarities and differences.

Brown rice

Brown rice (Oryza sativa) is a whole-grain rice that is minimally processed, retaining its nutrient-rich bran and germ layers.

It is a good source of carbohydrates, dietary fibers, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It is particularly high in vitamins B3, B1, B6, and B9 and minerals like manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. The high fiber content of brown rice has been linked to improved digestion, weight management, and lower cholesterol levels.

Brown rice is a staple food in many cultures and is often used as a side dish, in soups and stews, and as an ingredient in salads, sushi, and other dishes. It is also considered a functional food, as it has been shown to positively impact health when consumed regularly as part of a balanced diet.

Brown rice is a gluten-free alternative to wheat-based products, making it a good option for people with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease.

Brown rice is an excellent source of Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), and Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine).

It also contains Vitamin B9 (Folate) in a small amount.


Pasta is a traditional Italian food made from wheat flour and water. The most common types of pasta include spaghetti, macaroni, linguine, and fettuccine. Still, there are many other varieties available.

Pasta is a good source of carbohydrates, which provide energy for the body. It also contains small amounts of protein, fiber, and vitamins and minerals like iron and B vitamins, depending on the type of pasta and the flour used.

It is also low in fat and calories, making it a great option for weight management and a balanced diet. It can be enjoyed as a part of a healthy diet when paired with vegetables and lean protein sources such as legumes and in moderate portions.

Pasta can be enjoyed in a variety of ways; it can be cooked in different sauces, with herbs and spices, and can also be used in salads and soups. There are also different types of pasta available for those who are gluten intolerant or prefer a lower-carb option, such as rice pasta, quinoa pasta, and lentil pasta.

Pasta is not an excellent source of any particular vitamin.

However, it also contains a good amount of Vitamin B3 (Niacin) and some Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine), and Vitamin B9 (Folate).

Brown rice vs Pasta Nutrition

Now that we’ve described the origin, taste, and usage of these foods, we can move to the most interesting part – comparing brown rice vs pasta.

This comparison will start by comparing the caloric value of brown rice and pasta and their macronutrients and then go more in-depth by analyzing their vitamin and mineral content.

Brown ricePasta
Energy362 kcal371 kcal
Carbs76.2 g74.7 g
Sugar0 g2.67 g
Fiber3.4 g3.2 g
Protein7.5 g13 g
Fat2.68 g1.51 g
Saturated Fat0.536 g0.277 g

Brown rice vs Pasta Calories

Most calories in grains come from carbs.

Comparing brown rice vs pasta for weight loss, brown rice is slightly lower in calories, with 362 calories per 100 grams, compared to 371 calories per 100 grams of pasta.

However, both brown rice and pasta can and should be a part of a healthy diet, and neither one shouldn’t be avoided if you’re looking to lose weight.

Brown rice vs Pasta Protein

Grains and most grain products, including brown rice and pasta, are important sources of plant-based protein.

However, it should be noted that most grains, with the exception of quinoa and buckwheat, for example, are low in lysine and methionine.

That said, you can combine grains with legumes to get a complete protein.

Pasta offers around 42% more protein than brown rice.

Pasta has 13 grams of protein per 100 grams, while brown rice has 7.5 grams of protein per 100 grams.

Brown rice vs Pasta Carbs

Counting carbs can be important for some people for different reasons, including blood sugar control, weight management, or athletic performance.

It’s also important for people on a keto diet, so let’s compare the carbs content in brown rice and pasta.

The total amount of carbohydrates is around 2% higher in brown rice than in pasta. It has 76.2 grams per 100 grams, compared to 74.7 grams in pasta.

There’s less sugar in brown rice than in pasta, 100% precisely.

That said, 100 grams of brown rice contains 0 grams of sugar, while the same amount of pasta contains 2.7 grams.

Lastly, let’s take a look at the dietary fiber in brown rice and pasta.

Dietary fiber keeps the digestive system healthy and helps with weight management by promoting a sense of fullness.

With 3.4 grams of fiber per 100 grams, brown rice is a better source of fiber than pasta which brown rice offers 3.2 grams per 100 gram portion.

Brown rice vs Pasta Fats

Like most other grains, brown rice and pasta are low in fat.

Fats in brown rice and pasta are mostly healthy unsaturated fats. They are naturally cholesterol-free and trans-fat-free.

Total fat in brown rice and pasta:

  • Brown rice: 2.7 grams per 100 grams
  • Pasta: 1.5 per 100 grams

Speaking of saturated fats, pasta is 40% lower in saturated fats.

Pasta and brown rice contain 0.3 grams and 0.5 grams of saturated fat per 100 grams, respectively.

Brown rice vs Pasta Vitamins Content

This section will discuss the vitamin content of brown rice and pasta.

Vitamins are micronutrients, meaning we need only a small amount. However, they are very important for many processes in our bodies.

Brown rice has a higher amount of vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), and vitamin E.

However, pasta has a higher amount of vitamin B1 (Thiamine), vitamin B3 (Niacin), vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine), vitamin B9 (Folate), and vitamin K.

Brown rice and pasta contain the same amount of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 (Cobalamin).

The following table shows the exact amount of vitamins brown rice and pasta contain side by side, so you can easily compare them.

Brown ricePasta
Vitamin A00
Vitamin C00
Vitamin D00
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)0.413 mg0.09 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)0.043 mg0.06 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)4.31 mg1.7 mg
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)1.49 mg0.431 mg
Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine)0.509 mg0.142 mg
Vitamin B9 (Folate)20 µg18 µg
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)00
Vitamin E0.05 mg0.11 mg
Vitamin K0.9 µg0.1 µg

Brown rice vs Pasta Minerals Content

Minerals are important for our body to function properly. We need only a small amount of minerals, so they are called micronutrients.

Some minerals, like iron, calcium, zinc, or iodine, are relatively hard to get on a plant-based diet, so it’s important to choose your foods thoughtfully. This part of the brown rice and pasta comparison focuses on their mineral content.

Brown rice is a better source of copper, selenium, and sodium than pasta.

On the other hand, pasta is a higher amount of calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.

Brown rice and pasta contain the same amount of fluoride.

Check out the table below to learn how brown rice and pasta compare when it comes to mineral content.

Brown ricePasta
Calcium33 mg21 mg
Copper0.277 mg0.289 mg
Iron1.8 mg1.3 mg
Magnesium143 mg53 mg
Manganese3.74 mg0.917 mg
Phosphorus264 mg189 mg
Potassium268 mg223 mg
Selenium2.7 µg63.2 µg
Sodium4 mg6 mg
Zinc2.02 mg1.41 mg

The Final Word

This article highlighted the similarities and differences between brown rice and pasta.

Grains, also known as cereal grains, are an important source of nutrition for many people around the world. They are a rich source of carbohydrates, which provide energy for the body.

Whole grains contain important vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins and iron. Whole grains, in particular, are high in dietary fiber and can help with digestion and weight management.

They may also have other health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

Grains are also a staple food and an important source of food security in many parts of the world.


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