Rice Nutrition Facts

Calories in Rice and Health Benefits

Different varieties of rice
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Rice is a starchy grain used as a staple ingredient by more than half the world's population. Its versatility and ability to adapt to any flavor and seasoning make it a valued ingredient in almost any type of cuisine. In addition, its chewiness and soft texture add substance to meals, complementing multiple types of meal plans.

There are many varieties of rice which are divided into categories based on the seed size.

Rice can be long grain, medium grain, or short grain. All rice is originally whole grain, brown, with the bran attached, but white varieties are pearled for the more familiar white rice.

During the pearling process, the grain passes through a machine where it is rolled and the bran is gently "pearled" off, leaving the white kernel intact. This makes the grain a processed, refined grain and it is no longer a whole grain. Pearling also lowers cooking time and extends the shelf life of grains.

White Rice, Medium Grain Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 cup cooked (186 g)
Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories 242 
Calories from Fat 4 
Total Fat 0.4g1%
Saturated Fat 0.1g1%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1g 
Monounsaturated Fat 0.1g 
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 0mg0%
Potassium 53.94mg2%
Carbohydrates 53.2g18%
Dietary Fiber 0.6g2%
Sugars 0g 
Protein 4.4g 
Vitamin A 0% · Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 0% · Iron 34%

*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

All rice is considered starchy and provides a source carbohydrates. Because one-third cup of cooked rice contains about 15 grams of carbohydrates, it's important to watch your portion and to aim to make rice your side dish. Sticking to a portion the size of a handful or filling one-fourth of your plate is a good way to portion control rice.

When possible, choose whole grain brown rice, which contains more filling fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Health Benefits of Rice 

Depending on the type of rice you choose, rice can serve as a good source of B vitamins, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, fiber, and iron. Rice is also an excellent source of manganese and magnesium. Enriched rice has vitamins and minerals added back after it is refined.

Thiamin is a B vitamin that helps with carbohydrate metabolism. Magnesium is the structural component of bones that assists in hundreds of enzyme reactions involved in the synthesis of DNA and proteins and is required for proper nerve conduction and muscle contraction. Manganese is a component of antioxidant enzymes that assist in carbohydrate and protein metabolism.

Brown rice provides more vitamins than regular white rice. In addition to thiamin and magnesium, brown rice contains selenium, which influences thyroid function and is important in antioxidant enzymes. Brown rice has about seven times more fiber than white rice. One cup of cooked medium grain white rice contains 0.5 grams of fiber, whereas 1 cup of cooked brown rice contains 3.5 grams of fiber. Brown rice also contains fewer calories and carbohydrates than white rice (about 25 calories and 7 grams carbohydrate).

Varieties

There are many different types of rice, some of which are long grain, medium, and short grain. Within these varieties, there are also different types of processing. Converted rice, for instance, is parboiled to remove that surface starch, a process used for millenia when rice was hand-processed as it makes it easier to pearl. This type of rice retains more nutrients than white rice and cooks a little faster than regular milled rice. Instant or quickly cooking rice, on the other hand, is fully cooked and then flash frozen. This process removes some of the nutrients and flavor but makes it a very quick cooking rice.

Here are some of the more popular kinds of specialty rice:

  • Aborio rice, better known as risotto, is a short grain white rice with a mild flavor. It is typically used in Italian dishes.
  • Sticky rice is a short grain rice used in many Asian cuisines. It also is known as glutinous rice or sweet rice. It can be ground into flour and used for dumplings and used in making rice vinegar and Japenese sake.
  • Brown rice is a high-fiber grain which usually takes longer to cook than white rice.
  • Basmati rice and Jasmine rice are long-grain varieties that have unique flavors.
  • Wild rice is the seed of an unrelated reed-like aquatic plant. It is typically used as a side dish and has more vitamins, minerals, and fiber than white rice varieties.
  • Wild pecan rice is a unique long-grain rice that has a nutty flavor and rich aroma.

Rice and Metabolism

Rice can be incorporated into most meal plans, even those that are calorie and carbohydrate restricted. The key to eating rice is to manage your portion. One serving of rice is about one-third cup cooked. If rice is served as the only starch at your meal, aim to keep your portion to about two-third to three-fourth cup cooked.

Avoid eating large quantities of rice as this can lead to excess calorie and carbohydrate consumption. Carbohydrates are converted to glucose in the body and if there is more glucose than needed as fuel it is stored as fat. In addition, refined, processed carbohydrates can cause blood sugar to rise quickly, resulting in an increase in insulin levels in response. For people with diabetes or insulin resistance, this can be problematic. Short grain rice tends to have higher glycemic index than long grain, medium grain, and brown rice. This means that it raises blood sugars at a quicker rate.

Choosing and Storing Rice

Choose whole grain brown rice when possible as it has more fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The bran is still attached and the seed is intact. Avoid instant or quick cooking rice when possible as this type of rice removes some of the nutrients and flavor.

Store white rice in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. At temperatures of 70 F or below, rice can be stored for 10 years of more. Brown rice can be stored for about six months in a cool dry place, but if you place it in the freezer it will keep for about one year.

Once rice is cooked, store it in the refrigerator and use it within three to four days. You will know if your rice has gone bad if it is hard and dry or if it has an unpleasant smell.

Healthy Ways to Prepare Rice

Most American-grown rice is clean and free of insects. It does not need to be rinsed unless the package recommends rinsing or soaking.

The standard ratio for cooking rice is two parts liquid to one part rice. However, this can vary depending on the variety and the type of rice. Check the package label for exact guidelines. One cup of raw, uncooked rice generally yields about 3 to 4 cups cooked. 

Use rice as a side dish, accompanied by vegetables or to complement stews, curries, and soups. Rice can also be used in making puddings, bread, or as an addition to salads.

A Word From Verywell

Rice is a gluten-free grain and so it has gained popularity among those who are avoiding wheat products. By selecting brown rice that is higher in fiber and limiting portion sizes, it can be part of a healthy diet.

Sources:

Glycemic Index and Diabetes. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/glycemic-index-and-diabetes.html.

Labensky SR, Hause AM, Martel P. On Cooking: a Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals. Boston: Pearson; 2015. 

Micronutrients for Health. Linus Pauling Institute. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/sites/lpi.oregonstate.edu/files/pdf/mic/micronutrients_for_health.pdf

Storing Whole Grains. Whole Grain Council. http://wholegrainscouncil.org/recipes/cooking-whole-grains/storing-whole-grains

White Rice. Extension Utah State University. http://extension.usu.edu/foodstorage/htm/white-rice/

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