White Rice Packs Some Nutrients — but How Does It Compare to Other Grains?

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White rice is a gluten-free grain that works well as a side dish but other types of rice may provide more protein and fiber.
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Rice is a wonderfully versatile grain that complements practically any food. It's also gluten-free, making it an ideal choice for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

White rice is categorized primarily by size and processing method. Long-, medium- and short-grain are the main size types. Long-grain white rice is typically less starchy and heavy, short-grain is stickier and heavier and medium-grain falls in between the two.

The milling or processing method helps define rice as well. White rice is polished, with all the bran, germ and most of the nutrients removed. In most instances nationwide, white rice has been enriched with the lost vitamins and minerals.

Some popular types of white rice in the U.S. include the following:

  • Arborio: A round, short-grain starchy white rice that is traditionally used to make risotto.
  • Basmati: An aromatic rice with a light flavor and texture.
  • Sweet: A very sticky short-grain rice typically used to make sushi.
  • Jasmine: A long-grain, soft-textured, aromatic rice.

White Rice Nutrition Facts

A half cup of cooked white rice is equal to a single serving. A half cup of white rice contains:

  • Calories: 103
  • Total fat: 0.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 0.8 mg
  • Total carbs: 22.3 g
  • Dietary fiber: 0.3 g
  • Sugar: 0.1 g
  • Added sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: 2.1 g

White Rice Macros

  • Total fat: A one-half cup serving of white rice has 0.2 grams of total fat, which includes 0.06 grams polyunsaturated fat, 0.07 grams monounsaturated fat, 0.1 grams saturated fat and 0 grams trans fat.
  • Carbohydrates: A one-half cup serving of white rice has 22.3 grams of carbohydrates, which includes 0.3 grams of fiber and 0 grams of naturally occurring sugar.
  • Protein: A one-half cup serving of white rice has 2.1 grams of protein.

Vitamins, Minerals and Other Micronutrients

  • Manganese: 16% of your Daily Value (DV)
  • Folate (B9): 11% DV
  • Selenium**:** 11% DV
  • Thiamin (B1): 11% DV
  • Niacin (B3): 7% DV
  • Copper: 6% DV
  • Pantothenic Acid (B5): 6% DV
  • Iron: 5% DV
  • Vitamin B6: 4% DV
  • Zinc: 4% DV
  • Phosphorus: 3% DV
  • One serving of white rice is not a significant source of magnesium (2% DV), potassium (1% DV), calcium (1% DV), riboflavin (1% DV) or choline (1% DV).

White Rice vs. Other Types of Rice

Per 1/2 cup (78 g), cooked

White Rice

Brown Rice

Wild Rice

Black Rice

Calories

103

96

79

113

Fat

0.2 g

0.8 g

0.3 g

0 g

Carbs

22.3 g

20 g

16.6 g

26 g

Fiber

0.3 g

1.2 g

1.4 g

0 g

Protein

2.1 g

2.1 g

3.1 g

2.2 g

Source: USDA

Health Benefits of White Rice

White rice contains a variety of vitamins and minerals.

1. White Rice Is a Good Pre- and Post-Workout Food

In general, pre-workout fuel and post-workout recovery food is essential.

The Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitian Association recommends eating 30 to 60 grams of carbs between a half-hour and hour before a workout to sustain your enegy levels — and eating 40 to 80 grams of carbs within 30 to 45 minutes of exercising.

Carbohydrates are particularly important since your muscle stores of the macronutrient are likely down or depleted after a workout. White rice provides 22.3 grams of carbohydrates per one-half cup serving, which is a good way to get in those carbs in.

2. White Rice Is a Good Source of Manganese

A half-cup of cooked white rice provides 16 percent of your DV of manganese, an essential mineral that plays a vital role in bone health, metabolism and antioxidant function, according to Oregon State University.

Manganese deficiency has been shown to impair bone formation and reduce bone mineral density, according to the National Institutes of Health. The mineral also plays a role in reducing free radicals in the body when it produces energy, according to Oregon State University.

What's more, manganese plays many roles in the metabolism of carbs, proteins and cholesterol. It's vital to everything from detoxing the liver to creating neurotransmitters.

3. White Rice Is Linked to Promoting Heart Health

A half-cup of white rice provides 11 percent of your DV for selenium, a trace element. Clinical trials have found selenium to be cardioprotective, per a July 2016 study in PLOS One.

You'll also get 11 percent of your daily requirement for folate in one-half cup of white rice.

Folate may also prove beneficial in preventing heart disease and stroke. Folate supplementation was linked to a 10-percent reduced risk of stroke and 4-percent reduced risk of heart disease, according to an August 2016 study in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

The vitamin plays a role in lowering serum levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is a risk factor for heart disease.

A deficiency in folate has also been linked to mental health issues, according to a February 2016 study in Nutrients.

White Rice Health Risks

1. White Rice and Diabetes

For people with diabetes, portion sizes are key — especially when it comes to foods that contain carbohydrates.

If you have diabetes, it is recommended to track the number of grams of carbohydrate per meal or snack, regardless of the food source.

Grains, such as white rice, contain carbohydrates. Fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes and many other foods also contain carbohydrates. It is recommended that those with diabetes eat carby foods along with dietary fiber, which helps to slow digestion and keep blood sugar spikes in check.

White rice, for example, contains 0.3 grams of fiber and 22.3 grams of carbohydrate per one-half cup serving, so it would be helpful to add vegetables to the meal when eating white rice to bulk up the amount of fiber.

Can White Rice Cause Weight Gain?

Many foods, including grains like white rice, can lead to weight gain if the portion size is not factored into the meal. A one-half cup serving of cooked white rice is reasonable — however, eating one to two cups at once and frequently is not recommended if weight loss is your goal.

2. Food Allergies

White rice is generally regarded as safe for most people to consume. The hypo-allergenic nature of rice makes it a commonly recommended grain alternative.

However, there is a a fairly rare allergy called Food Protein-induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES). This is a food allergy that affects primarily infants and young children and may be triggered by grains such as rice, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and lack of energy. In many cases, a clinically supervised food challenge may be required to confirm FPIES. In many cases, children outgrow FPIES by three or four years of age.

3. Drug Interactions

There are currently no known drug interactions associated with white rice. Be sure to discuss any medication and food interactions with your health professional.

White Rice Preparation and Useful Tips

White rice is non-perishable and widely available in bulk and packaged varieties. Be sure to check the dates on any prepackaged rice to ensure freshness and do not buy from bulk if there are signs of moisture or low turnover.

White rice should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place where it can last for up to one year. Cooked rice should be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.

How to Cook White Rice

  1. Place water in a medium-sized pot with a tight-fitting lid. The ratio of rice to water is 1 cup white rice to 1 ½ to 2 cups of water.
  2. Bring water to a full boil over high heat. Once boiling, add rice, lower heat to a simmer, then cover the pot.
  3. Do not open the lid for 16 to 18 minutes. Then, open the lid to check on the rice — it may need another minute or two to cook.
  4. Turn off heat and leave the lid on for a few minutes for the rice to settle and steam.
  5. Grab a fork, open the lid and fluff prior to serving.

Tip

For less sticky rice, rinse the rice before using. Place your uncooked rice in a fine mesh sieve or strainer and rinse with cold water until the water runs clear.

White rice can be used in a wide variety of dishes. Here are some quick serving ideas.

  • Add to salads, soups, stews and side dishes.
  • Combine with beans and some chopped vegetables and mix in vinaigrette to make a colorful rice salad.
  • Make veggie burgers by combining beans, onion, garlic, bell peppers, jalapeno, salt and pepper in a food processor. Place mixture in a bowl with an egg and rice, form into patties, bake and serve with salsa and avocado.
  • Use leftovers to make fried rice.
  • Serve with stir-fry or braised dishes.
  • Try making rice with milk or nut milk with cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins and honey for a delicious dessert or rice pudding.
  • Serve with beans and herbs, like cilantro, as a side dish.

Rice Recipes

Alternatives to White Rice

There are many varieties of rice available. White rice can easily be swapped out for other varieties, including brown, black, wild or red rice.

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