Just like bread and pasta, rice is often vilified by keto lovers and low carb fans. Not only do those who ditch rice miss out on some serious health benefits (more on that shortly), but they also stigmatize members of nearly all of the world’s cultures.
The US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service reports that more than half of the world’s population depends on grains to make up the bulk of their diets. For reference, according to the nonprofit group USA Rice, the average person in Asia consumes an average of 300 pounds of rice annually. In the UAE, that figure is about 450 pounds a year, and here in the US, Americans eat about 27 pounds a year.
says Laura Ligos, RDN, CSSD, a registered dietitian and founder of The Sassy Dietitian in Albany, New York.
Rice nutrition information
According to the USDA’s FoodData Central nutrition database, here’s how to shake for 1 cup of cooked rice, based on variety.
One cup of cooked wild rice provides:
- Calories: 166
- protein: 7g
- Total fat: <1 g
- carbohydrates: 34 grams
- Fiber: 3 g
- sodium: 5 mg
- magnesium: 53 mg
- Folic acid: 43 mcg
One cup of cooked brown rice serves:
- Calories: 218
- protein: 5 grams
- Total fat: 2 g
- carbohydrates: 46 grams
- Fiber: 4 g
- sodium: 2 mg
- magnesium: 86 mg
- Folic acid: 7.8 mcg
One cup of cooked white rice serves:
- Calories: 242
- protein: 4 g
- Total fat: <1 g
- carbohydrates: 53 grams
- Fiber: <1 g
- sodium: 0 g
- magnesium: 8 mg
- Folic acid: 110 mcg
In addition to offering these macronutrients and a mix of micronutrients, which vary by type, “rice is incredibly versatile,” says Roxana Ehsani, MS, RD, CSSD, a board-certified sports nutritionist based in Miami. “You can eat it on its own, make a rice pilaf, add it to veggies and protein to make a stir-fry, enjoy it in place of your morning oatmeal, try it in sweet or savory dishes. Bottom Line. The rice will absorb the flavors with which it’s cooked, such as herbs and spices, or you can keep it plain. Basic and easy too.”
Pictorial recipe: Shrimp with garlic rice in one bowl
What happens to your body when you eat rice everyday
Because of its adaptability, accessibility, and affordability, many people eat rice on a regular basis — even daily. It can definitely be part of a balanced meal plan. However, it does come with some potential drawbacks that are important to keep in mind. Before that, what happens when you eat rice every day.
You will get an energy boost
“Rice is a healthy, nutrient-dense grain and an excellent source of carbohydrates, one of the three macronutrients we need to consume on a daily basis,” says Ehsani, pointing to fat and protein as other parts of the power trio. It’s true: your body needs carbohydrates to survive. Depending on which government organization you are benefiting from and your personal health status, carbohydrate recommendations may vary. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that carbohydrates should make up about 40% to 65% of your daily calories. “Carbohydrates provide our bodies with fuel, the energy we need every day,” says Ehsani.
Rice is a quick source of energy, Legos adds, which can be a huge plus for those who need strength quickly, such as athletes, individuals with labor-intensive jobs, and those who are pregnant or nursing or recovering from an injury or illness. .
“Carbohydrates are an important macronutrient that our bodies need for energy, hormone production, cognitive function, and more,” Legos says.
You may notice smoother digestion
Along with bananas, applesauce, and toast, rice is a staple of the often-touted “BRAT diet” for those suffering from, or recovering from, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
“If you have a stomachache or a stomach bug, one food that you might think is easy to tolerate and digest is plain rice. There is very little fat in rice, which is ideal for easy digestion,” says Ehsani.
Legos adds that this can be beneficial whether or not you have digestive issues. Eating easily digestible carbohydrates can be beneficial if you have an upset stomach due to anxiety or stress, if you are recovering from an illness, or before or after a workout.
You can mix your own micronutrients
Depending on the type of rice you choose, it has different health benefits, says Ehsani.
says Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, founder of NutritionStarringYOU.com and author of NutritionStarringYOU.com The Everything Made Easy Cookbook for Pre-Diabetes. For example, white and brown rice share somewhat similar nutritional profiles, although brown rice is slightly higher in calories, fiber, protein, manganese, selenium, magnesium, and B vitamins. Wild rice and black rice, also known as forbidden rice, are higher in Antioxidants and lower in calories, with a lower glycemic index.”
To get a mix of micronutrients and flavours, try incorporating more than one type of rice into your diet on a regular basis.
Your blood sugar may rise
Because it’s higher in carbohydrates (compared to protein and fat, the other two macros), eating rice alone can cause your blood sugar levels to spike. The glycemic index is a measure of how well a food affects your blood sugar, and rice falls roughly in the middle; higher than corn, slightly lower than wheat and slightly lower than white potatoes, according to Harvard Medical School.
“If you’re not active or you’re not eating enough protein and fat to go along with the rice, it can affect your blood sugar in a negative way,” says Legos, if you’re trying to keep it balanced. Since even just a couple of minutes of walking after meals can lower post-meal blood sugar, she says, “it may also be beneficial to eat rice at the most active time of the day, especially if you are struggling with some blood sugar balancing. It can also help.” It feels like eating some rice — plus protein and fat — before a workout, before a walk, or after a workout.”
Before a workout or otherwise, Ehsani recommends boosting your rice recipe with vegetables for extra fiber and adding a high-quality source of protein, such as fish, chicken, tofu, or a hard-boiled egg, for long-lasting energy.
For slow digestion, Harris-Pincus has a little hack: Both white and brown rice are important sources of resistant starch, she says, “especially when allowed to cool after cooking and before consumption. Resistant starch has shown real promise in promoting fullness and a healthy body weight.” (Translation: Prepare the meal for the next batch of rice a day or two in advance, and enjoy reheating leftovers—you can digest them less quickly.)
You may increase your arsenic intake
Compared to other grains, rice can be a higher source of arsenic, a chemical compound found naturally in our soil and water in some parts of the world, Legos says — and the Dartmouth Toxic Metals Research Program confirms. The World Health Organization says arsenic exposure can be associated with an increased risk of cancer over time. To reduce arsenic consumption:
- Choose rice grown in areas that produce rice with less arsenic. White basmati from India, Pakistan and California fits the bill, as does sushi rice from the United States
- Wash rice before cooking and eating it.
- Mix the cereal. Other options like quinoa, bulgur, farro, and amaranth tend to be lower in arsenic.
You may be cutting out more nutrient-dense foods
Similar to how health professionals promote mixing your produce consumption (in order to feed your gut different types of fiber and different micronutrients), it’s ideal to eat a variety of grains.
“If you only eat rice daily, you may be missing out on all the other nutrients found in other grains like quinoa, bulgur, farro, oats, barley, millet, teff, and amaranth. It’s always a good idea to vary your grains,” Ehsani says.
Also try to watch how you finish your meal. Many appetizers can feature rice as the centerpiece, which is totally fine, but keep in mind the serving size. Building a varied plate will allow you to stock up on lean protein, fruits and vegetables, and heart-healthy fats, too.
What to consider when eating rice
Rice of all kinds provides important vitamins and minerals, along with energy-boosting carbohydrates and, depending on the variety, a good dose of gut-health-supporting fiber. For long-lasting energy, Harris-Pincus recommends filling half of your plate or bowl with non-starchy vegetables, one-quarter with lean protein and one-fourth with carbohydrates, such as rice. Try this strategy in delicious and varied recipes like crispy fish tacos, hummus curry, vegan coconut, and smoked turkey, kale, and rice bread.
“Rice is a cultural staple for many people, and it should be celebrated for its role in cuisine and health,” Legos concludes.
Ehsani admits that Rice sometimes gets a bad rap. But, she says, you can incorporate it into any healthy diet. Yes, even white rice.
“My dad is from Iran, and white rice is always on the dinner table when we eat a Persian dish. It’s a staple. Patients have been eating it for every meal, and we’re just working on ways to add other forms of nutrition around it to keep their meals balanced and full of nutrients,” she says. .
To enjoy rice while keeping your energy up and your blood sugar stable, aim to keep portion size in mind and pair it with ingredients that provide protein and fat, Legos suggests.
“Health is about more than just calories and nutrients; it’s also about joy and enjoyment of food,” Legos adds. “Having a staple like rice that is easy to cook and tastes great is a win.”