Almost one in every three Americans has high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. High blood pressure increases your risk of stroke and kidney and heart disease. You may control your blood pressure through diet. Some foods are more effective for blood pressure control than others; white rice isn't ideal but may not be harmful. You should not attempt to treat high blood pressure or any other condition with food, or discontinue medication, unless instructed to do so by a doctor.
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White rice is relatively low in calories, with 169 calories in one cup of cooked rice. That amount comprises less than 9 percent of the daily suggested intake of 2,000, so it's not likely to significantly affect your weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your blood pressure, but unless you eat very large portions regularly, white rice isn't likely to have a significant impact on weight gain or loss.
White rice is very low in fat, with less than .5 g in each cooked cup. White rice doesn't contain saturated or trans fats, which can increase your cholesterol level. High cholesterol is a risk factor for high blood pressure, so replacing fatty foods with white rice may help reduce your risk of both conditions.
White rice is high in carbohydrates, with 37 g in each cooked cup. While carbohydrates can provide energy for athletic events and other activities, a high-carbohydrate diet may not be ideal for blood pressure management. Research published in the January 2010 edition of "Archives of Internal Medicine" found that low-carbohydrate diets reduced blood pressure compared to diets higher in carbohydrates.
White rice is low in fiber, with 1.7 grams in each cooked cup. According to research from the January 2005 issue of "Archives of Internal Medicine," increased fiber intake may help prevent high blood pressure. However, because white rice is low in calories, you can still eat it and find room for high-fiber foods in your diet, so the low fiber content of white rice alone is unlikely to be a sole driver of changes in your blood pressure.
White rice is low in sodium, as each cooked cup contains just 9 milligrams. Consuming too much sodium can increase your risk of high blood pressure. The daily suggested limit is 2,300 milligrams, so white rice is unlikely to promote increased blood pressure through this mechanism.
Eating potassium-rich foods may reduce your risk of high blood pressure. However, white rice is low in potassium, with 17 milligrams; the suggested daily intake is 4,700 milligrams. If you replace a lot of high-potassium foods with white rice, this could encourage high blood pressure. If you eat potassium-rich foods already, white rice shouldn't increase your risk of hypertension.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; High Blood Pressure Facts; March 2011
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Rice, White, Glutinous, Cooked
- National Cholesterol Education Program: High Blood Cholesterol: What You Need to Know
- American Heart Association; Knowing Your Fats; September 2010
- "Archives of Internal Medicine"; A Randomized Trial of a Low-Carbohydrate Diet vs Orlistat Plus a Low-Fat Diet for Weight Loss; W.S. Yancy et al.; January 2010
- "Archives of Internal Medicine"; Dietary Fiber and Blood Pressure: A Meta-analysis of Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trials; M. T. Streppel et al.; January 2005