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Health Dietary


17 January 2023

White Rice

The basics and the not-so-basics of eating it as part of a balanced diet.

Rice is a staple food in many cultures around the world and is a wonderful base for many delicious dishes. From creating scrumptious dinners and unique side dishes to beefing up your breakfasts, this versatile food is one that so many people enjoy. But there’s one question that crops up time and time again; is rice healthy? It’s an answer with multiple parts, but none of them are bad.

Let’s delve into the wonderful world of rice and why it should always be a staple in your kitchen.

Rice and its many types

Rice is a starchy grain that grows on grassy plants, most commonly in irrigated rice paddies, and forms a staple component for a large percentage of the world’s population. Once processed, it can be boiled, ground into flour, fried, and can be eaten either by itself or made into a wonderful variety of dishes.

There are over 40,000 varieties of rice worldwide, though they can all be set into three main categories: long grain, medium grain and short grain. While we won’t list out

different types of rice

Arborio rice

If you’ve ever cooked a risotto, odds are you’ve used arborio (or carnaroli) rice. Its slow release of starch is what makes risotto so deliciously smooth and creamy.

Explore our risotto recipes here.

Basmati rice

Served alongside your favourite curries, basmati is a long-grain rice that can be used in a variety of ways. Known for its fluffy texture and its lightly nutty and aromatic flavour, basmati rice is excellent for pilafs and biryanis.

Explore our biryanis recipes here.

Black rice

Sometimes called ‘forbidden rice’, black rice is almost always whole grain. It has an earthy, nutty flavour and is a good source of antioxidants as well as iron and protein. Although it takes around an hour to cook, it’s worth the wait.

Brown rice

Considered a whole grain (and can also be named wholegrain), brown rice is only processed to remove the inedible hull, keeping the bran and germ intact. Because of this, it retains more of its nutrients such as fibre which is why it is often chosen over white rice by athletes and health-conscious eaters. It also means it has a shorter shelf life overall and can generally take longer to cook.

Check out our guide to cooking brown rice.

Japanese rice

Sometimes marketed as sushi rice or sticky rice, Japanese rice grains are short, plump and stick together because of how much moisture they retain once cooked. It’s perfect for serving alongside your main meal, making onigiri (rice balls) and in your favourite sushi dishes.

White rice

White rice is a classic, reliable grain which works perfectly across the board. The main difference between white and brown rice is that, in this case, the husk, germ and bran have been removed, and the grain has been polished.

Wild rice

Unlike its name, wild rice is actually not a rice but rather a type of marsh grass seed and grows mostly in parts of North America and Canada. It contains fibre and complete proteins, is full of antioxidants and has a chewy outer texture with a soft grain.

(Source healthline.com/nutrition/wild-rice-nutrition-review#protein-and-fiber)

Want to learn more about the different types of rice? Take a look at our rice guide.

What is the healthiest rice?

Brown rice generally gets the “healthy” crown due to its higher fibre content and retention of nutrients, however, all rice varieties can be part of a balanced diet.

Fact or fiction: Brown rice is healthier than white

The important thing to note here is that both brown and white rice are the same grain – the big difference is how they’re processed. Because the germ and bran are removed, white rice  valuable nutrients, like antioxidants, B vitamins, minerals, fats, and fibre, unless they’re reintroduced later on. 

Brown rice vs white rice

When it comes to deciding which to include in your diet, however, you’ll need to consider a few factors, including your own health. If you have certain medical conditions, like kidney disease or diabetes, or need to adjust a high or low fibre diet, you should research which carbohydrate  will serve you best. (Source medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319797)

How is rice processed?

Once rice has been grown, harvested and dried for as long as needed, it’s time to process. First comes hulling, this is a vital step in the process as it removes the inedible hull; this in itself can be multiple stages long. At this point, you have brown rice.

From here, to extend shelf life, brown rice can be pearled which removes the bran layer. Once the bran has been rubbed away, the grains are cooled and polished to give it more of a shine.

And, finally, grains are checked to ensure you’re getting the very best on the table. From paddy to plate, we pride ourselves on the quality and standards of every grain.

(Sources hindustanggroup.net/modern-rice-milling-process / madehow.com/Volume-5/Rice.html / theforkedspoon.com/types-of-rice.com)

5 key health benefits of rice

  1. White rice digests easily. Many people prefer to stick to white rice as it’s low in fat and fibre, meaning it’s less likely to cause any gastrointestinal issues.
  2. Enjoy a burst of energy. As an easy source of carbohydrates, white rice is the ideal food for replenishing glycogen and refuelling after exercise.
  3. It’s naturally gluten-free. For people with coeliac disease, rice and rice flour is an excellent alternative to wheat-based foods.
  4. Lowering cholesterol. Brown rice contains more fibre than white rice. Studies suggest a higher fibre diet can contribute to lowering cholesterol and improving heart health.
  5. From your head to your toes. Rice contains magnesium which is essential for the overall health of your bones, muscles and nerves.

(Sources ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5794245 / verywellfit.com/foods-that-are-easy-to-digest / verywellfit.com/rice-nutrition-facts-calories-and-health-benefits)

Rice vs pasta: Which is healthier?

Rice vs pasta: Which is healthier?

When thinking about whether rice or pasta is the healthiest alternative, ask yourself another question: “Why do I need to know?”. Like many things, the answer will depend entirely on what you need in your diet. If you’re looking for more fibre and protein, pasta is a must-have. Low gluten and low calorie, then rice is the winner.

(Source vegfaqs.com/rice-vs-pasta/#Rice_vs_Pasta_Which_is_Healthier)

Is couscous more healthy than rice?

Similar to when comparing pasta and rice, couscous and rice have similar considerations. Whole-wheat couscous is generally higher in fibre than white rice and some couscous varieties retain nutrients similar to brown rice. For example, brown rice has a higher fibre content. When choosing between couscous and brown rice, consider your needs – couscous cooks faster but might have similar calories to white rice, while brown rice is higher in fibre but takes longer to cook.

Is it okay to eat rice every day?

As a staple across the globe, you may often wonder whether eating rice every day is a good or bad thing. The answer is neither “yes” nor “no”, but rather “it depends”. It depends on what type of rice you eat, how much of it you eat and your overall health and lifestyle.

To avoid getting into too much detail, the best answer we can give is to embrace variety. Enjoy rice a few times a week, but break meals up with other grains like quinoa, buckwheat and couscous, and celebrate it as part of a delicious, varied diet.

Healthy rice recipes

There are endless healthy rice recipes! There are many options to explore and try for yourself and if you don’t know where to start, why not try: