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Is Yellow Rice Healthy for You?

author image Jill Corleone, RDN, LD
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.
Is Yellow Rice Healthy for You?
Close-up of yellow rice in a bowl. Photo Credit: Michele Cozzolino/Hemera/Getty Images

In many Hispanic homes, yellow rice is a meal staple. While recipes vary, yellow rice is usually made with white rice and onions, with spices such as saffron or turmeric added to make the rice yellow. Yellow rice offers some nutritional value, but it can be high in sodium.

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Good Source of Carbs

Most of the calories in yellow rice come from its carb content. One cup of cooked yellow rice contains roughly 45 grams of carbohydrates, and anywhere from 200 to 300 calories. Carbohydrates are an essential nutrient and your body's preferred source of energy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that 45 to 65 percent of your calories should come from carbohydrates. On a 2,000-calorie diet, that means you need 225 to 325 grams of carbs a day.

Some Vitamins and Minerals

If you use enriched white rice in your recipe, yellow rice can help you meet your folate and iron needs. One cup of cooked enriched white rice contains 153 micrograms of folate and 1.9 milligrams of iron. Both folate and iron are nutrients of concern for women of childbearing age, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Adequate iron intake is important for red blood cell production and folate helps prevent birth defects. Teenage girls and women of childbearing age need 400 micrograms of folate a day, and 15 to 18 milligrams of iron.

Too Much Sodium

Whether from a spice mix, broth or added salt, some versions of yellow rice may be high in sodium, with as much as 750 milligrams in a 1-cup cooked serving. High intakes of sodium are associated with high blood pressure, which increases your risk of heart disease. To keep a lid on your blood pressure, limit your daily sodium intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams a day. If you already have high blood pressure, are of African American descent or are over the age of 50, you should limit sodium to less than 1,500 milligrams a day.

Make It Healthier

You can make your yellow rice healthier for you by making a few changes to your recipe. To up the fiber in your rice dish, use brown rice instead of white. One cup of cooked brown rice contains 3.5 grams of fiber versus 0.6 gram in the same serving of cooked white rice. Mixing beans or peas into your rice also increases the amount of fiber, iron and zinc. You can also reduce the sodium content in your yellow rice by omitting or reducing the amount of added salt and using low-sodium broth.

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