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Is Jasmine Rice Healthy?

author image Mary Osborne
Is Jasmine Rice Healthy?
White plate of Jasmine rice.

Also known as Thai fragrant rice or Thai Hom Mali rice, long-grained jasmine rice doubles the pleasure of eating a steaming bowl of fluffy rice because of its delicious, nutty taste and characteristic flowery aroma. In 2004, the United Nations ushered in The International Year of Rice with the catchphrase, “Rice is life.” Rice, a foundation food for many people around the world, and provides an inexpensive, often easily accessible source of nutrition in areas where other food may be in short supply.

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Nutritional Value

One cup of cooked jasmine rice contains 4.2 g protein, 44.5 g carbohydrates, about 200 calories, 0.63 g fiber, 2.3 mg niacin, 0.26 mg thiamine, 1.9 mg iron and 11.8 mcg selenium. Total fats equal 0.44 g. Jasmine rice registers as a "good" source of niacin, thiamine, iron and selenium because the amounts found in the cooked product range between 10 and 20 percent of the recommended daily requirement. Jasmine rice also provides vitamins B1 and D. Researchers at the International Rice Research Institute hope to further enrich rice with higher nutrient levels through biotechnology and improved growing methods.

Health Benefits

When combined with drinking plenty of water, eating jasmine or any other variety of rice -- especially whole grain, or brown, jasmine rice -- prevents constipation. Because brown jasmine rice contains a fair amount of insoluble fiber, it can benefit digestion by helping flush food quickly through the gastrointestinal tract and softening stools. The vitamins and minerals in jasmine rice benefit the skin, may help prevent certain cancers and provide quick energy, since its is a complex carbohydrate. It's also a low-fat, sodium-free food.

Low-Protein Staple Food

According to Ellen Roggemann's "Fair Trade Thai Jasmine Rice" 2005 study through Occidental College, rice comprises 55 to 80 percent of a Thai person's average daily caloric intake. While rice is filling and does have some vitamins and nutrients, its protein content is "modest," according to the International Rice Research Institute, despite containing eight amino acids. Eating foods that contain essential amino acids not produced in the human body is crucial for maintaining healthy, functioning muscles and metabolism. The IRRI also specifies that brown jasmine rice is "slightly more nutritious than enriched white rice, with twice as much fiber, five times the vitamin E, and three times the magnesium."

Health Concerns

The jasmine rice perhaps most familiar to the Western palate is long-grained, smooth-textured and pearly white. Whole grain, or brown, jasmine rice retains the bran, or outer husk. Brown jasmine rice is more nutritious and higher in fiber than the white, water-milled version. White jasmine rice is a starchy, refined food and, as such, temporarily raises insulin and blood sugar levels. Therefore, a diet high in refined foods, such as white rice, may increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Brown rice, on the other hand, poses no increased risk toward this type of diabetes, according to Healthnotes.

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