White Rice & Cholesterol

Steamed White Rice
White Rice & Cholesterol (Image: 4kodiak/iStock/GettyImages)

As Americans become more health conscious, it's reasonable to feel concerned about the connection between cholesterol and your diet. You may wonder whether certain foods like white rice have dietary cholesterol or whether eating white rice helps reduce blood cholesterol levels. Because high cholesterol has a negative impact on heart health, you're on the right track in wanting to learn more about how the foods in your diet impact cholesterol levels. Find out whether white rice is a keeper, or whether it's best to ditch it for a better alternative.

White Rice Is Cholesterol-Free

Some foods in your diet contain cholesterol, but white rice isn't one of them. White rice is cholesterol-free, according to the U.S Department of Agriculture. Experts used to believe that the cholesterol in food negatively impacted the cholesterol in your blood, so this naturally caused concern about the cholesterol in food. It's no wonder that you may want to know the cholesterol content of white rice.

Looking Out for Cholesterol

While white rice is a cholesterol-free food, you may want to hold off on jumping for joy. From a nutrition standpoint, if you’re looking out for your cholesterol, white rice isn’t necessarily a nutrition powerhouse. White rice is not a whole grain, according to the Whole Grains Council. Whole grains have a distinct dietary advantage. They are in "whole" form, meaning they contain all of the edible parts.

These parts, the bran, endosperm and germ, add to the nutrition content of grains. The bran is rich in antioxidants and B vitamins and the germ contains minerals, protein and some B vitamins , according to the Whole Grains Council. White rice is stripped of the bran , reducing its fiber and nutrient content. This matters because a diet rich in whole grains may improve cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease, says the American Heart Association.

Refined Carbohydrates Raise Cholesterol

When it comes to raising cholesterol, fatty processed meats likely come to mind. It's true, fatty meats are high in saturated fat, which can raise cholesterol and worsen heart disease, according to the American Heart Association. However, consuming a diet high in carbohydrates from refined whole grains, such as white rice, negatively impacts cholesterol as well, according to a study published in the November 2013 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Choose Healthier Rice Alternatives

Rice comes in more colors than just white. If you're watching your cholesterol, the refined nature of white rice and the low nutrient content prevents it from making the grade. Next time you're at your local grocer, look for brown, black or red rice. These are delicious alternatives that are nutrient-dense whole grains, unlike white rice. For instance, black rice is rich in anthocyanins, antioxidants that give the rice its deep color. Unlike white rice, which may contribute negatively to cholesterol, foods rich in anthocyanins may reduce the risk of heart disease. If you don’t see black or red rice in the main rice section, check the ethnic foods aisle.

And, of course, feel free to round out your diet with other whole grains and fiber-rich foods. You'll benefit from eating 100 percent whole wheat bread for your cholesterol, and sweet potato is good for cholesterol, too.

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