Rice: Health Benefits & Nutrition Facts

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated -

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Rice, being a good source of various vitamins like niacin, thiamin, and riboflavins, offers various health benefits. Brown rice is also rich in fiber and manganese, thereby improving digestion and overall health.

It also has the ability to provide instant energy, regulate and improve bowel movements, and manage blood sugar levels. It also plays a role in providing vitamin B1 to the human body.

What is Rice?

Rice is a cereal grain, which belongs to the grass species Oryza sativa and Oryza glaberrima, also known as Asian and Australian rice respectively. The grain comes in more than 40,000 varieties with different shapes, sizes, texture, aroma, and colors.

Different types include white, brown, rose, noodle, the black pearl, red yeast, wild, jasmine, and sushi rice, among others. They can be long-grain, medium-grain, and short-grain and take a very short preparation time.

It is also known for the number of benefits that it imparts, becoming the reason it is often used in pet food, as an ingredient in cosmetics such as facial cleansers and moisturizers, and in dietary supplements and pills.

Rice Nutrition

Most varieties of rice contain a high amount of carbohydrates and protein. The fiber content varies according to its different types. For eg., brown rice has more fiber than white and therefore, is often constituted as a healthy option. According to USDA National Nutrient Database, it is also rich in minerals like calcium, iron, sodium, potassium, manganese, selenium, and copper. The vitamins in it include niacin, pantothenic acid, and thiamin. It is a great food for people wanting a gluten-free option and it contains negligible fat.

For most people, it is synonymous with short-grained white rice. This variety is considered healthy as it contains most of the nutrients.

Nutrition Facts

Rice, white, long-grain, regular, enriched, cooked
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]68.44
Energy [kcal]130
Energy [kJ]544
Protein [g]2.69
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.28
Ash [g]0.41
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]28.17
Fiber, total dietary [g]0.4
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]0.05
Calcium, Ca [mg]10
Iron, Fe [mg]1.2
Magnesium, Mg [mg]12
Phosphorus, P [mg]43
Potassium, K [mg]35
Sodium, Na [mg]1
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.49
Copper, Cu [mg]0.07
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.47
Selenium, Se [µg]7.5
Fluoride, F [µg]41.1
Thiamin [mg]0.16
Riboflavin [mg]0.01
Niacin [mg]1.48
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.39
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.09
Folate, total [µg]58
Folic acid [µg]55
Folate, food [µg]3
Folate, DFE [µg]97
Choline, total [mg]2.1
Betaine [mg]0.3
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.04
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.08
14:0 [g]0
16:0 [g]0.07
18:0 [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.09
16:1 [g]0
18:1 [g]0.09
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.08
18:2 [g]0.06
18:3 [g]0.01
Tryptophan [g]0.03
Threonine [g]0.1
Isoleucine [g]0.12
Leucine [g]0.22
Lysine [g]0.1
Methionine [g]0.06
Cystine [g]0.06
Phenylalanine [g]0.14
Tyrosine [g]0.09
Valine [g]0.16
Arginine [g]0.22
Histidine [g]0.06
Alanine [g]0.16
Aspartic acid [g]0.25
Glutamic acid [g]0.52
Glycine [g]0.12
Proline [g]0.13
Serine [g]0.14
Sources include : USDA

Health Benefits

It is a fundamental food in many cuisines around the world and is an important cereal crop that feeds more than half of the world’s population. The health benefits of this widespread crop are explained below.

Prevents Obesity

Rice forms an integral part of a balanced diet as it can provide nutrients without having any negative impacts on health. Low levels of fat, cholesterol, and sodium also help reduce obesity and associated conditions. While most people have this misconception that white rice consumption causes an increase in blood glucose levels, which is one of the reasons for obesity, a 2013 research paper showed that there was, in fact, no association between the frequency of consumption and body weight, BMI or central obesity. Most people prefer brown rice over white for it has more fiber content and is, therefore, more nutritious.

Gluten-free

Rice naturally does not contain any gluten and hence, causes no inflammation in the gut. This means that people suffering from celiac disease can easily include it in their diet. However, it is important to ensure that there haven’t been any contamination while procuring, manufacturing, or packaging.

Controls Hypertension

According to research published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, rice enriched with gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA helps in reducing hypertension. It also prevents the early onset of high blood pressure related heart conditions.

Fresh rice sprig and a small sack of white rice falling on a wooden table

Rice is the most commonly used grain around the world. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Anticancer Potential

As per a research published in the Nutrition and Cancer journal, anthocyanin rich black rice has anti-cancer effects that help in fighting breast cancer cells by causing apoptosis and suppressing angiogenesis in the body. Another study published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention showed red rice extract has potential chemotherapeutic properties for cancer patients.

A 2017 study published in the BioMed Research International, provided substantial evidence that consumption of its by-products could provide optimal chemoprevention due to antioxidant phytonutrients. However, more scientific evidence is required to confirm the anticancer benefit.

Skin Care

As per a study published in the journal Pharmaceutical Biology, rice bran has bioactive compounds that help prevent aging. They are also used in various skin care products. It is also shown to have antioxidant and skin- hydrating potential.

Medical experts say that powdered rice can be applied topically to cure skin conditions. On the Indian subcontinent, its water is readily prescribed by Ayurvedic practitioners as an effective ointment to cool off inflamed skin surfaces.

May Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer’s

In a rat model study by Michiaki Okuda et al., there was evidence which suggested that brown rice, when cooked under high pressure, retains its most important nutrients. This high pressured brown rice reduces amyloid-beta in the brain, a major protein responsible for Alzheimer’s disease. It also showed the potential to improve cognitive dysfunction. However, more studies are awaited to corroborate this point.

Diuretic & Digestive Qualities

As a diuretic, rice helps you eliminate toxins from the body like uric acid. It is also a rich source of fiber which increases bowel movement regularity and protects against various types of cancer, as well as reducing the chances of cardiovascular diseases.

Improves Metabolism

According to a report published in the Journal of Functional Foods, black rice helps reduce obesity and improve metabolism among mice who were fed the same for a period of 12 weeks. However, more research on this is still required.

Boosts Cardiovascular Health

As per a research published in the British Medical Journal, whole grains like rice help in reducing the risk of coronary heart diseases and other cardiovascular diseases.

It is known to have antioxidant properties that promote cardiovascular strength by reducing cholesterol levels in the body, according to a report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Wild and brown varieties are far better than the white variety since the husk of the grain is where much of the nutrients are; ironically, the husk is removed in white rice preparation.

Relieves IBS

A team of researchers from New York University penned a detailed report on the recommended diet for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) in 2018 in the World Journal of Gastroenterology. In that, they concluded that a diet low in fermentable carbs known as FODMAPS is recommended for the management of this digestive disorder. Rice is a low FODMAP item, which is clinically suggested for consumption during IBS as it has resistant starch, which reaches the bowels and stimulates the growth of useful bacteria that help with normal bowel movements.

Relieves Constipation

Rice can prevent chronic constipation. The insoluble fiber in it acts like a soft sponge that may be pushed through the intestinal tract quickly and easily. Brown rice and whole grains are known to be rich in insoluble fiber. However, it is also advisable to drink lots of water for relieving your constipated condition, in addition to eating fibrous foods.

Health benefits of rice infographic

Rice comes in more than 40,000 varieties with different shapes, sizes, texture, aroma, and colors.

Provides Energy

As per a study published in the journal ARYA Atherosclerosis, rice being a good source of carbohydrates, helps boost overall energy in the body. Carbohydrates are metabolized by the body and turned into functional, usable energy.

Controls Diabetes

Those with diabetes should include the brown variety rather than the white one, which contains low levels of the glycemic 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 produce energy from carbohydrates and protein, says a 2010 report published in the Archives of Internal Medicine Journal.

Selection

People choose different types of rice depending on their culinary needs, availability, and potential health benefits as well. It can also be defined by the length of each grain. Asian cuisines specialize in long grained ones, whereas American countries prefer short or medium length grains.

How to Add Rice to your Diet?

There are many delicious ways you can add this whole grain to your diet, below we have mentioned some amazing ideas.

Fried rice: The simplest recipe is your fried rice. It is easy to make and amazing to taste. You can add your favorite vegetables to it to make it more palatable. Here is the full recipe!

Mango sticky rice: A combination of fresh and sweet ripe mangoes, sticky rice, and creamy coconut sauce is what makes this dessert a refreshing remedy to the tropical heat. Full recipe here!

Sprouted brown rice: People use sprouted brown rice in many of the same applications as regular brown rice, although it is known to be more filling, and makes for an ideal fiber boost in vegetable soups or as a side dish. Click for the health benefits and recipe here.

Nigerian jollof rice: Jollof rice is made with long-grain rice, tomatoes, and spices, with an extra kick from Scotch bonnet chile peppers. Full recipe here!

You can check out more recipes here.

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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