Corn Flour vs Brown Rice Flour

stripedbassMarch 8, 2014

Which would you consider healthier than the other:

Maseca corn flour:


Bob's Red Mill whole grain brown rice flour:

The nutrition facts are contained in the links but I can never seem to make sense from them. Maybe I just don't know how to read them.

I'd really appreciate any feedback on this since I often cook a polenta-like dish called ugali (East African) which can easily be made with either brown rice flour or corn flour. It's traditionally made with maize meal.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

As I compared the two side-by-side, the differences are so small it won't matter when taken into the context of your entire daily food intake and total nutrient requirements. It's about the total nutrition from ALL food, not just one ingredient used, or recipe you make.

Corn has a slight edge because it has 0 mg of sodium and is lower in carbohydrates per 1/4-cup (corn - 23 g. rice - 31 g.), but rice has more fiber, but you can add other ingredients to increase fiber if that is a concern.

Neither of these products "rocks my world" in the nutrition column, because neither is a nutrient-dense food, so I would use them in very small amounts and use them infrequently.

I would, however, suggest you mill your own rice flour and leave the pre-packed stuff in the store. "Fresh is best" when it comes to getting the most nutrients available. Once the outside coat (the bran) of any grain is shattered during milling, oxygen quickly degrades the nutrition and the oil, and that exposure to oxygen causes the oils to go rancid. Rancid oils do not have to smell rancid to be rancid. At that point the oils are a damaging free-radical and all your so-called wholesome wholegrain brown rice flour is no longer "good for you". The longer these milled wholegrain flours are stored at room temperature in the warehouse and eventually on the store shelves where they are exposed to oxygen in the package, light and heat, the less nutrition they have.

For additional nutrition, I would (and do) sprout and dehydrate brown rice to increase the nutrients before milling into flour. But I look at health and nutrition somewhat differently than most people.

You can use a coffee/spice mill (preferably one that hasn't had coffee milled in it) for milling rice into flour. Choose short- or medium-grain brown rice for your flour choices. Long-grain rice is fine as a thickener or dredging, but not the best choice for cooking/baking, where short- and medium-grain rice work for all purposes.

If you can use black rice in a recipe for brown rice (cooked rice or rice flour), it has more protein and twice as much fiber as brown rice, and is high in iron and anthocyanin antioxidants (like those found in blueberries).


Here is a link that might be useful: Black Rice

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 10:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wow, amazing response. Very detailed. Thanks.

Stupid question: Is milling the same thing as grinding? If so, it had never occurred to me that I can mill my own brown rice flour. I buy my rice from Super 88, an Asian supermarket chain.

I have 2 grinders. One is for coffee beans, the other for spices.

I have milled things like flax seeds. I'll see if I can do the same with brown rice. Right now I have a 15 pound bag of something called Nishiki Premium Brown Rice (medium grade). I bought it a while ago and have used about 75% of it. Maybe I can mill the remaining 25%.

The only thing that slightly disappoints me from your response is when you suggest that I use either the corn flour or the brown rice flour sparingly. You don't understand. Ugali is a major East African staple. This is something I'll be eating almost daily which is why I'm trying to find something healthy to use instead of the traditional maize meal.

Anyway, I reapply appreciate your feedback!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 1:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Grinding can be milling, but not all grinding IS milling. Grinding can also mean to pulverize, but not necessarily until it's a flour, and not necessarily a grain/seed/bean. I have a food grinder I use for meat (and other foods), but I don't mill flour in it - but that's probably getting too technical.

I teach classes on home milling. Milling is a term associated with grinding grain into grits/meal/flour, and if you already have two "coffee grinders" (aka coffee/spice mill), you are set for making your own rice flour. Grinding rice in a coffee/spice mill/grinder is also the universal way to clean them - so another benefit :-).

For 1 cup of rice flour, grind/mill a scant 3/4 cup (3/4 c. minus 1 T.) short-grain rice or 3/4 c. long-grain rice. Try to use it A.S.A.P. after milling it. If you have to mill it and use it later, refrigerate or freeze it. Freezing only slows down nutrition degrading and oils from oxidizing quickly - it doesn't prevent it. Don't grind/mill large quantities of rice at a time because it can burn the motor. A true grain mill is a much better option.

Unfortunately, you can't mill corn in a coffee/spice mill/grinder. Corn (especially hard flint - which is traditionally used for polenta - and popping corn) is even too hard for some grain mills. I use a corn mill for milling corn meal, corn grits, and corn flour.

Now that I've had a chance to look at recipes for Ugali, unless this has been a traditional part of your diet all your life, it's a high-glycemic food and you may need to consider how much you will be eating, and to consume it with a mixed meal where there is also some fat and protein to lower the glycemic impact. It will be considered a grain food and 1-ounce will equal a serving - just as 1-oz. of cereal or a slice of bread is a serving. Nutrients aren't the only thing that we may need to consider for a "good" food choice.

Large amounts of high-glycemic foods in your diet from all sources can contribute to blood glucose issues like Syndrome X, insulin resistance, or even Type II Diabetes. (See the Web MD link below.) And as I mentioned earlier, neither are nutrient-dense foods. They supply carbohydrates and not much in the way of nutrition or fiber.

You can increase the nutrition and lower the glycemic index and impact of rice by sprouting it first. For more information check out:

The masa corn flour has already been processed by soaking it in lime water and the bran (fiber) and germ (where the valuable oil and much of the nutrients are) removed, then thoroughly dried (posole) and milled into corn flour called masa. It is a traditional method that actually is beneficial for digestion and neutralizes enzyme inhibitors - but not a nutrient-dense food. I mill posole into masa, but it's not something we have very often. I use it in a gluten-free cornbread recipe and for making corn tortillas. With concerns about genetically modified corn and arsenic in rice, as well as the high glycemic impact, we eat very little corn (although I purchase non-GMO dried corn). I'll be growing my own rice in containers this year (hopefully - I tried last year but the weather didn't cooperate).

No, I didn't understand you will be consuming Ugali almost daily. We all get to make food choices in life for any number of reasons, and this one is an interesting one for you, I must say. I try to consume a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods (mostly whole foods) from all the food groups, and foods from the lower half of the Glycemic Index of Foods so we hopefully avoid diseases and conditions associated with a less than "healthy" diet.


Here is a link that might be useful: Web MD - Glycemic Index and Diabetes

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 5:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wow! I need to digest (no pun intended) your post for a while before responding. It's very interesting. I'm really appreciative. I'll get back to you, if you don't mind.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 1:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Is this extended travel or with a home base and kitchen?
Maseca is processed as grainlady mentioned. Brown rice, corn meal, casava root flour, chick pea flour and others that might be available are considered 'empty' calories. But also affordable. Small portions is recommended just because activity level does not often balance the intake. In our diet, masa and corn flour means a heavier less healthy meal. What it is served with. The recipe may be a polenta, corn cake, or arepa, or tamale. A mixed brown rice, chick pea, lentils, ground flax, cha, etc is always heavy with vegetables and fruit. We try and keep the portions small either way depending on activity.
After a very active week we can handle it and don't feel the post meal sluggish...'digestive coma' we call it.
I don't think you will find, with study, one healthier than the other. Try and find a balance with fruits and vegetables. And try sprouting your grains as mentioned. Something to test before you go, if it is a travel adventure. A sprouted grain is very quickly a 'plant'. A healthy green still very much like its meatier self and filling.
For example, my sister has made many relief services trips over the years, recently Haiti, and always returns with an extra 25 lbs on a small frame. A diet heavy in starch and stress.
Quickly looses the extra weight when returning by weaning herself off any grain for a few months. And sprouting. Keeping whole grains and carbs back to a reasonable percentage in a diet of 20%-25% rather than a high 50%-70% .
If you are young and active i would not worry so much. Or, like my dad, 87, swims EVERY day and yoga twice a week, eats sprouted grain breads, but lots of grains and sweet potatoes, though does keep the percentage down with whole foods and veggies and never processed foods.

Here is a link that might be useful: sprouted grains

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 10:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have been thinking a lot about the wonderful responses I got here.

I'm getting tired of Bob Red Mill Brown Rice Flour. Just went back to Maseca Instant Corn Masa Flour (bought a 4.84 lbs bag). Brown rice flour is very sticky and I have to add a number of spices to make it taste good (like turmeric, cayenne pepper and sea salt).

Instant corn masa flour is closer to the maize meal that's used in Kenya to make ugali which I love.

I should mention that ugali ( is not eaten by itself. It always goes with something else, usually vegetables and beef. The most common vegetable that's eaten with ugali is sukuma wiki. It's collard greens but go here for a better explanation:

My questions to Grainlady and sleevendog:

1) Did you realize that ugali is eaten with other things or was I not clear in my posts and made it sound like ugali was eaten by itself?

2) Thanks for explaining that I can grind my own brown rice flour. However, what would be a healthy way of making my own maize meal (ugali)?

3) Or is there a healthier carb that I could consume that has the same texture as a stiff polenta which is what ugali really is?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 11:57AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

1. It doesn't matter, my answer still stands.

2. A corn grinder (I have a Corona Corn Mill) and the proper type of corn. For masa flour you will need to make or purchase dried posole. I've purchased dried posole from Rancho Gordo. I suspect you can purchase canned posole or hominy (if available to you), dry and mill it. [I was always going to see if it would be a substitute for P.A.N. flour I use for making arepas, but never got around to trying it.]

"Maize Meal" is the same as cornmeal. It can be ground fine, medium or coarse - to your liking - whichever grind is appropriate for your recipe.

True polenta is milled from flint corn (looks like popcorn), rather than dent corn or sweet corn, but nearly any kind of corn can be used - it's more about the grind.

3. I've never had ugali, so I can't suggest a "healthier carb", other than to eat less (small portion) and eat it less often. You can off-set carbs (somewhat) by adding fat - so eat some kind of fat with a meal when ugali is served. Fat will slow down digestion of the high-glycemic carbs.


    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 5:07PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
My lastest kitchen purchase
Some of you may remember me talking about our local...
Photobucket Photos - Plllog - Annie
Hey there, I didn't forget to post PB photos for you....
Not your average refrig contents....
Tartine bakery is one of the local San Francisco icons:...
I still love cooking....
I still love cooking and sorry to have been MIA for...
Where is the canning forum now? :(
I'm not finding the canning forum. Can someone help...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™