Nutrition Facts for Glutinous Rice

If you've ever eaten Thai mango sticky rice or Japanese _mochi_, you've eaten glutinous rice. This sticky, short-grained white rice is widely consumed in Asia but is common in the United States only in Asian restaurants. The nutritional value of white rice isn't as high as brown or wild rice; the milling process leaves it with fewer vitamins and minerals, less fiber and less protein. Although delicious in Asian cuisine, it's not the healthiest of carbohydrate sources and should be eaten in moderation.

Glutinous rice is prominently used in sushi. (Image: Ridofranz/iStock/GettyImages)

Glutinous Rice Nutrition Facts

One-half cup of glutinous rice provides 84 calories. Of those calories, 87 percent come from carbohydrates. The carbohydrates in glutinous rice are primarily starch, with a little bit of fiber (0.9 gram) and a little natural sugar (0.04 gram). Starch is a complex carbohydrate that your body digests more slowly than the simple carbohydrates from sugar. Some complex carbohydrates help maintain steady blood sugar levels, which helps keep energy levels stable. However, there is more at play than just starch versus sugar.

The glycemic index (GI) is a scale from 0 to 100 that measures how quickly and dramatically a food raises your blood sugar. The higher the number, the bigger the impact. Compared to white sugar, with a GI rating of 100, glutinous rice has a GI of 86. This makes it a high-glycemic food, which is any food with an index rating over 70. High-glycemic foods digest more quickly and cause blood sugar fluctuations that can promote shifts in energy level, mood and your ability to control food cravings, according to a 2016 study in Appetite.

Compared to whole-grain rice, glutinous rice contains less dietary fiber. This is because the milling process strips the outer bran layer, which contains much of the fiber. Starchy foods with less fiber aren't as healthy as those with more fiber; the fiber in food is one factor that lowers the GI score. Fiber aids healthy digestion, lowers cholesterol and helps with weight maintenance. The dietary guidelines recommend that women get 25 grams per day and men get 38 grams. With 0.9 gram of fiber, a serving of glutinous rice provides less than 3 percent of men's daily needs.

Protein and Fat Content

Fat and protein in white rice are typically low. One-half cup provides less than 2 grams of protein and less than a quarter of a gram of fat. Of the total calories, protein and fat make up 8.5 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively. Protein and fat also modulate the post-meal effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar. Not only do they slow the absorption of carbohydrates, but protein is the most satiating of the three macronutrients and keeps you feeling full longer. This helps control calorie intake, which is key to maintaining a healthy weight.

Vitamins and Minerals

Unlike whole-grain rice, glutinous rice is not a rich source of micronutrients. A half-cup serving contains only fractions of a milligram of the vitamins normally found in grains, including thiamine, riboflavin, folate, niacin and vitamins B6 and B12. They're similarly low in minerals. One serving contains only 2 milligrams of calcium, 4 milligrams of magnesium, 0.2 milligrams of iron, 7 milligrams of phosphorus and 9 milligrams of potassium. This barely makes a dent in your daily mineral requirements. For example, the 9 milligrams of potassium in a serving provides less than 2 percent of the 4,700 milligrams adults need daily.

Common Glutinous Rice Dishes

Rarely is glutinous rice eaten by itself, as other types of rice might be. Rather, sticky rice is often served as part of a savory dish with meat and vegetables or sweetened and served as a dessert or treat. How glutinous rice is served significantly affects the overall nutrition value of your meal or snack.

As an accompaniment to fresh vegetables and lean protein, it's not quite as unhealthy because the fiber and protein in the rest of your meal help control absorption and digestion. But it's still a healthier option to choose whole grains that are higher in nutrients and fiber.

Thai sticky rice, made with sweetened condensed milk and coconut milk, is one common example of a sweet dish containing glutinous rice. The addition of sugar ups the calorie content significantly and increases the impact of the glutinous rice on blood sugar. Although sweet dishes with glutinous rice are delicious, they aren't nutritious and should be eaten only as an occasional treat.

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