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A Look at Brown Rice, Red Rice, Black Rice and Wild Rice

Updated on September 30, 2017
Athlyn Green profile image

Athlyn Green has an interest in whole, natural foods and shares her insights with others.

Photo: Brown Rice Varieties
Photo: Brown Rice Varieties | Source

What Rice Will You Choose?

From short, medium and long grain rice to aromatic rice varieties, from sticky to fluffy rice, to the colorful and flavorful wild rice, there's a nutritious whole grain rice to suit every taste.

Fluffy, Sticky, Aromatic or Wild?

In a previous article, Why Eat Brown Rice? I discussed the superior nutrition brown rice offers, and in my next article, I detailed How to Cook and Serve Brown Rice.

In this article, we'll discusses the different types of rice available. Rice comes in a wonderful variety of sizes, shapes and colors. It is an ancient grain that has served as an important food source for humans for centuries. Rice truly is a power food and should be incorporated into the diet.

Rice that hasn't been stripped of its goodness is rich in carbs--a main source of energy--it contains B vitamins and, of course, because it is a plant-based food, it is cholesterol free and contains very little fat. Rice is also gluten free, so it is a suitable food for those suffering with celiac.

Additionally, rice is a low-acid food and easily digested and therefore is a good choice for young children, the elderly, and just about everyone else.

For the purpose of this article, we will stick to wholegrain varieties, as we explore this topic.

Did You Know?

Nutritious whole grain brown rice retains the bran layer, germ and the endosperm. The bran layers which are rich in minerals and vitamins.

But... Isn't Rice Bland?

A common perception is that this humble grain is a bland food. It can be but rice, for the most part, like pasta and potatoes, is a food that goes well with other ingredients. If all foods were strongly flavored, we wouldn't be able to combine them as effectively as we do now. It's this ratio of bland + flavorful that makes for great-tasting meals. A bland food often serves as a base for a topping or it can be used to extend the amount of food or to add a soft texture. When combined effectively, you end with a dish where the flavors do not compete but rather compliment the whole.

However, that said, some rice varieties also offer a richer flavor. Especially is this true with unmodified rice that's as close as possible to its natural state. When it hasn't been stripped of the components that contribute to both flavor and nutritional value, some types of rice are quite tasty. Some of the rice varieties we'll be discussing in this article actually have a flowery, nutty, or smoky flavor.


Short Grain Brown Rice

Photo: Short Grain Brown Rice
Photo: Short Grain Brown Rice | Source

Short Grain Brown Rice

First up is short grain rice. This chubby-looking rice is a good choice if you want to make a dish and have your rice stick together, such as for rice balls or patties. Whole grain brown rice is a nutritious food and has had only the husk removed.


Long Grain Brown Rice

Photo: Long Grain Brown Rice
Photo: Long Grain Brown Rice | Source

Long Grain

Long grain brown rice is slender and looks quite different from its shorter cousin. It is a good grain for stir fry, pilaf, or for stuffing. These longer rice grains do not stick together so they are a better choice for dishes where you want the grains to remain separated.


Sweet Brown Rice

Image: Sweet Brown Rice
Image: Sweet Brown Rice | Source

Sweet Rice

Who would have thought that rice could actually have a sweet flavor? An interesting rice variety is sweet brown rice. This rice can be used for desserts such as rice pudding and is a good choice for sushi because of its stickiness.


Jasmine Rice

Photo: Jasmine Rice
Photo: Jasmine Rice | Source

Aromatic Jasmine Rice

Jasmine rice has long been a favorite. This rice is primarily grown in Thailand; although it is cultivated in other areas, as well. It offers an exotic flowery flavor and even has a scent that you can enjoy, while it cooks. If you are looking to add variety to the menu, jasmine rice is a great choice.

Full-Flavored and Aromatic

Basmati Rice

Photo: Basmati Rice
Photo: Basmati Rice | Source

Aromatic Basmati

Basmati is a full-flavored rice that originates in India. It is another rice variety that gives off a distinctive scent as it cooks. Basmati is considered one of the most flavorful of the rice varieties.


Red Rice

Photo: Red Rice
Photo: Red Rice | Source

Aromatic Red Rice

With its lovely russet color, red rice offers a slash of color. Coming to us from Asia and France, this aromatic rice has a nutty flavor. This is a nice rice to serve as a side dish to accompany lightly steamed vegetables.


Red Matta Rice

Photo: Red Matta Rice
Photo: Red Matta Rice | Source

Red Matta Rice

Red Matta rice is an Indian rice that is a vibrant burgundy color and offers a nutty flavor. What a lovely color to bring to the table.


Black Japonica Rice

Photo: Black Japonica Rice
Photo: Black Japonica Rice | Source

Japonica Rice

If you are a fan of mushroom-flavored dishes, this rice is a perfect go-along. While it is considered a black rice, it also shows mahogany hues.


Chinese Black Rice

Photo: Chinese Black Rice
Photo: Chinese Black Rice | Source

Chinese Black Rice

Who would have thought rice could offer so much in terms of shape, flavor and color! Chinese black rice is interesting because it offers a full-bodied flavor and actually becomes a purple color as it cooks. Kids will enjoy watching this. With its sweet flavor, black rice can be used in desserts and it also makes an interesting-looking ingredient in salad.


Long Grain Black Rice

Photo: Long Grain Black Rice
Photo: Long Grain Black Rice | Source

Long Grain Black Rice

Black rice, like its brown counterpart, also comes in short and long grain varieties. Also considered a wild rice, this longer grain offers a nutty flavor.

Wild Rice Blend

Photo: Wild Rice Blend
Photo: Wild Rice Blend | Source

Wild Rice Blends

Wild rice blends contain both short and long grain rice in different colors. These blends make a wonderful addition to meals and offer much from a nutritional standpoint, with their bran layers intact and containing many compounds that support human health.

Fast Facts About Wild Rice

Wild rice is the seed from a water-grass plant and grows in shallow lake waters in Canada and Minnesota. It was a staple food of the Sioux and Chippawa.

Cooked Wild Rice

Photo: Cooked Wild Rice
Photo: Cooked Wild Rice | Source

What's Your Favorite Type of Rice?

See results

Rice in All its Many Sizes, Shapes and Colors

Learning about plant-based foods can help consumers adopt a nutrition-conscious mindset and can be a motivator in relation to incorporating healthful foods into the daily diet. Our nearest medicine is, in most cases, as near as the garden or the whole foods market and eating well can be a safeguard against disease development. Including different varieties of rice in our daily diet can help in this endeavor.

© 2012 Athlyn Green


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    • Athlyn Green profile image

      Athlyn Green 5 years ago from West Kootenays

      Hi Robie,

      Thanks for stopping by! Yes, rice is fascinating in it many different varieties.

    • robie2 profile image

      Roberta Kyle 5 years ago from Central New Jersey

      Wonderful interesting rice info--amazing how many different varieties there are that I had not heard of. Think I need to try a few more-- jasmine rice sounds wonderful and I am a big basamati rice fan. Thanks for a good read