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Rice Nutrition Facts

Updated on June 18, 2011
Bags of rice photo: robtain @flickr
Bags of rice photo: robtain @flickr

Rice and Health

Rice is a very versatile food. It can be used in so many different recipes, and it can stretch a grocery budget far. Rice has been given a bad rap, but rice is a wise nutritional choice. Many cultures serve rice as one of the main staples of their diets. These same cultures don't suffer as greatly from many of the health problems that Americans face, such as heart trouble, diabetes, obesity, and cancer.

Rice is easy to digest. This makes it a great choice for those with stomach or digestive troubles like ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, heartburn and other digestive discomforts. Rice is also an excellent alternative to people who are sensitive to wheat or who for some other reason follow a gluten-free diet.

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photo: House of Sims @flickr
photo: House of Sims @flickr

Different Rice Varieties

There are several types of rice, not just the plain white rice loaded with sugar, butter, and not much of anything else that many Americans are used to eating. There are literally thousands of different rice varieties. Each of these different rice varieties vary in their nutritional content and in how the human body reacts to them while being digested. Below are rice nutrition facts for the a few types of rice.

Brown Rice Nutrition Facts

FirstĀ  is long grain, cooked brown rice. This is one of the healthiest varieties of rice. Brown rice is mostly carbs, which is how rice got its bad reputation. A cup of brown rice has about 45 grams of carbohydrates. It also contains 4 grams of fiber.

Brown rice has more fiber than most other types of rice. Because of the fiber, brown rice will not spike a person's blood sugar as quickly or as high as other types of rice. For this reason, brown rice is the best choice for diabetic recipes and if you wish to lose weight.

A cup of long grain brown rice is about 200 calories. Brown rice is naturally low in fat, contains no saturated or trans fats. It has no cholesterol and almost no sodium. Of course, if you add lots of butter or salt to rice when you prepare it, the fat and sodium amounts go up proportionately.

Brown rice also is a good natural source of selenium. Low selenium levels in the body has been linked to a higher risk of cancer. A cup of brown rice supplies a decent amount of magnesium and vitamins B6 and niacin.

Long Grain Enriched Instant White Rice Nutrition Facts

Long grain, enriched instant white rice is what most Americans use when they make rice recipes. It is similar in nutritional value to brown rice, with a few differences. First, here are the similarities.

Like brown rice, instant white rice is about 200 calories. It also has about 45 grams of carbohydrates in a cooked cup of instant white rice. Instant white rice is also very low in fat, with no saturated fat, trans fats, cholesterol, and very little sodium.

Brown Rice vs. White Rice Nutrition

Here are some of the differences in long grain brown rice and instant white rice:

Instant white rice has only 1/4 the fiber content of brown rice. It contains almost no fiber, with a cup having about 1 gram. Because of this, instant white rice will cause a much quicker rise in blood sugar than after eating long grain brown rice. This is very dangerous for diabetics. It can also cause weight gain, especially in the belly.

On the plus side, enriched instant white rice is a very good source of manganese and folic acid, supplying over 1/4 of the daily requirement of both in a cup serving size. It is also a good source of iron and niacin.

Brown rice wild rice mix photo: D is for Duende. @flickr
Brown rice wild rice mix photo: D is for Duende. @flickr

Wild Rice Nutrition Facts

Perhaps the best nutritional choice when you eat rice is wild rice. Like brown rice and instant white rice, it contains almost no fat, cholesterol, or sodium.

Wild rice is definitely a carb food, like the other rices. But one cup of wild rice has 35 grams of carbohydrates, compared to 45 grams with the other types mentioned. Wild rice is still a high carb food, but there are differences.

First, besides having 10 less grams of carbohydrates, wild rice has almost as much fiber as long grain brown rice. A cup of wild rice has 3 grams of dietary fiber, versus 4 grams in brown rice and a measly 1 gram in instant white rice.

The higher fiber paired with a lower carbohydrate content in wild rice results in a more gradual blood sugar rise after eating. This is much healthier for the body, and helps diabetics keep blood sugar levels under control easier. It helps prevent packing on the pounds for everyone else, too, especially around the belly.

A cup of wild rice also supplies a person with about 1/4 the daily requirement for the mineral manganese. Manganese is important for bone health. A deficiency can put a person at a higher risk for osteoporosis. Deficiencies can also cause fatigue and memory impairment.

Wild rice also provides 15% of the RDA for zinc. Zinc is a very important mineral for optimal health. It helps support and strengthen the immune system, as well as being necessary for many other important functions of the body.

There are many other varieties of rice not mentioned here. Experiment with each of them for various flavors and textures.

Wild Rice Festival

Rice Nutrition Facts Commments

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    • barryrutherford profile image

      Barry Rutherford 7 years ago from Queensland Australia

      I've read about rice so much today it's coming out of my ears. Great hub enjoyed reading it ...