Rice is an essential staple all over the world in many cuisines. It is such a vital crop that it is eaten by over half of the Earth’s population. With rice being the chief cereal for most of the world, it has enormous potential to improve the health of the millions of people who eat it every day.

In fact, research is already being undertaken into how the nutrient value of rice can be increased. This includes the development of rice with high iron and zinc compounds through bio-fortification, which could also result in higher quality crops. This would benefit both farmers and rice consumers, who would potentially enjoy healthier, longer lives.

Today, rice forms the part of many low-calories meals and recipes due to its low fat content. Here we explain the ins and outs of rice nutrition to give you a better understanding of how rice should be included as part of a balanced diet to help you eat healthier.

It is widely recommended that starchy, carbohydrate-rich foods such as rice, bread, potatoes, pasta and cereals, should form 33% of a meal. However, in terms of calories, these foods should make up 50% of our calorific intake from the meal.

Rice Nutrition

Rice is an excellent source of Vitamin E, B vitamins thiamine & niacin, potassium, calcium, fibre, iron and riboflavin. These vitamins are essential for maintaining the body’s immune system, metabolism and organ systems.

How many nutrients and calories in rice?

Nutrient

Brown rice, raw, 100g

White rice (easy cook), raw, 100g

Energy (kcal/kJ)

357 / 1518

383 / 1630

Fat (g)

2.8

3.6

Protein (g)

6.7

7.3

Carbohydrate (g)

76

78

Fibre (as non-starch polysaccharies) (g)

1.9

0.4

 
Vitamin content of rice and selected cereals (mg/per 100g, unless specified)

Vitamin

Vit E

Thiamin

Riboflavin

Niacin equivalent (µg)

Vit B6 (µg)

Folate (µg)

Rice, easy cook white, raw

(0.1)

0.41

0.02

5.8

0.31

20

Rice, brown, raw

0.8

0.59

0.07

6.8

-

49

Wheat flour, white, plain (fortified)

0.3

0.31

0.03

3.6

0.15

22

Wheat flour, wholemeal

1.4

0.47

0.09

8.2

0.5

57

Rye flour, whole

1.6

0.4

0.22

2.6

0.35

78

Millet flour

Trace

0.68

0.19

2.8

Nil

Nil

Barley, pearl raw

0.4

0.12

0.05

4.8

0.22

20

Oatmeal, quick cook raw

1.5

0.9

0.09

3.4

0.33

60

Popcorn, plain

11.03

0.18

0.11

1.7

0.2

3

Source: Food Standards Agency and Institute of Food Research 2002

























Mineral content of rice and selected cereals (mg/per 100g, unless specified)

Mineral

Na (mg)

K (mg)

Ca (mg)

Mg (mg)

Fe (mg)

Zn (mg)

Se (µg)

Rice, easy cook white, raw

4

150

51

32

0.5

1.8

13

Rice, brown, raw

3

250

10

110

1.4

1.8

10

Wheat flour, white, plain (fortified)

3

150

140

20

2

0.6

2

Wheat flour, wholemeal

3

340

38

120

3.9

2.9

6

Rye flour, whole

(1)

410

32

92

2.7

3

Nil

Millet flour

21

370

40

Nil

Nil

Nil

Nil

Barley, pearl raw

3

270

20

65

3

2.1

(1)

Oatmeal, quick cook raw

9

350

52

110

3.8

3.3

3

Popcorn, plain

4

220

10

81

1.1

1.7

Nil

Source: Food Standards Agency and Institute of Food Research 2002

The Health Benefits of Rice

Thanks to its nutritional content, rice has been shown to provide a number of health benefits.

In summary, rice can help:

  •          Increase metabolism
  •          Improve the immune system
  •          Reduce high blood pressure
  •          Stabilise blood sugar levels
  •          Regulate and improve bowel movements
  •          Slow down the aging process
  •          Boost skin health
  •          Your digestion
  •          Your weight loss efforts
  •          Provide protection against dysentery, cancer, and heart disease
Some of the key health benefits of rice are detailed below:

Management of Blood Pressure

Due to its low sodium content, rice is recommended for people who suffer from high blood pressure and hypertension. The reason behind this is that sodium can narrow arteries and veins, which increases blood pressure and stress on the cardiovascular system. Increased blood pressure can also cause other heart conditions, as well as heart attacks and strokes.

Improved Cardiovascular Health

Rice bran oil has antioxidant properties that reduce cholesterol levels and improve cardiovascular strength. Rice’s fibre, and low levels of fat and sodium. Wild rice and brown rice varieties are far better than white rice in this category, since the husk of the grain is where much of the nutrients are; the husk is removed in white rice preparation.

Prevention of Cancer

Whole grain rice (such as brown rice) is rich in insoluble fibre, which many researchers and scientists believe are important for guarding against cancer, particularly colorectal and intestinal cancer. Besides fibre, rice also contains antioxidants such as vitamins A and C, as well as phenolic and flavonoid compounds, which stimulate or act as antioxidants to clean free radicals from the body. Free radicals are by-products of cellular metabolism. They can cause severe damage to organ systems and lead to the mutation of healthy cells into cancerous ones.

Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease

The high level of nutrients contained in brown rice stimulate the activity and growth of neurotransmitters, which can help in preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Some varieties of wild rice have been found to stimulate the brain’s neuroprotective enzymes. This obstructs the effects of dangerous toxins such as free radicals that have been known to cause Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Rice as a Source of Energy

Rice is 77.5% carbohydrate. Carbohydrates function as fuel for the human body by metabolising and turning into usable energy, while also aiding healthy brain function. The vitamins and minerals found in rice and other carbohydrates increase the metabolic activity all the body’s organ systems, which increases energy levels further.

Rice Allergies

Rice allergies are rare and rice itself is a common alternative carbohydrate source for people allergic or intolerant to wheat.

Rice for People with Diabetes

Diabetic patients should include brown rice rather than white rice, which contains low levels of glycaemic index. As little as one cup of brown rice on a daily basis provides a person with almost 100% of their daily manganese requirement, which helps to produce energy from carbohydrates and protein. Brown rice is also extremely beneficial for normal functioning of the nervous system and the production of sex hormones.