9 Important Benefits of Wild Rice

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

 Likes  Comments

The most important health benefits of wild rice include its ability to improve digestion and heart health, stimulate growth and repair throughout the body, slow the signs of aging, protect against chronic diseases, strengthen bones, boost the immune system, and help with weight loss.

What is Wild Rice?

Wild rice describes four different species of grass from the genus Zizania (as well as the beneficial grain that can be harvested), three of which are native to North America, and one to China, Asia. Wild rice is also known as Indian rice, Canada rice, and water oats. Despite having the name “rice” in the title, wild rice is not closely related to traditional “Asian” rice, which tends to be smaller, less nutrient-dense, and of a different color.

The popularity of wild rice increased in North America but diminished in many other parts of the world, simply due to accessibility. Wild rice has a chewy outer sheath that holds the nutrient-dense grain inside, and it grows on short stalks in shallow water. It is harvested for consumption and serves as food to various aquatic animals too.

It is extremely valuable due to its selective accessibility and high nutritive value, as well as the consistency of the plant. When the grains are harvested, many of them fall into the muddy soil beneath the water and grow for the following year. Today, many varieties of wild rice have gained a great deal of attention due to their high antioxidant, protein, mineral, vitamin, and dietary fiber content, almost all of which are considerably higher than traditional white rice. It is low in gluten and fats as well.

A white bowl of uncooked wild rice on a wooden table

Wild rice has a delicious, nutty flavor. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Wild rice, cooked
Serving Size :
Water [g]73.93
Energy [kcal]101
Energy [kJ]423
Protein [g]3.99
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.34
Ash [g]0.4
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]21.34
Fiber, total dietary [g]1.8
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]0.73
Sucrose [g]0.33
Glucose (dextrose) [g]0.2
Fructose [g]0.2
Calcium, Ca [mg]3
Iron, Fe [mg]0.6
Magnesium, Mg [mg]32
Phosphorus, P [mg]82
Potassium, K [mg]101
Sodium, Na [mg]3
Zinc, Zn [mg]1.34
Copper, Cu [mg]0.12
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.28
Selenium, Se [µg]0.8
Thiamin [mg]0.05
Riboflavin [mg]0.09
Niacin [mg]1.29
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.15
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.14
Folate, total [µg]26
Folate, food [µg]26
Folate, DFE [µg]26
Choline, total [mg]10.2
Carotene, beta [µg]2
Vitamin A, IU [IU]3
Lutein + zeaxanthin [µg]64
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.24
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]0.5
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.05
16:0 [g]0.05
18:0 [g]0
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.05
18:1 [g]0.05
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.21
18:2 [g]0.12
18:3 [g]0.1
Tryptophan [g]0.05
Threonine [g]0.13
Isoleucine [g]0.17
Leucine [g]0.28
Lysine [g]0.17
Methionine [g]0.12
Cystine [g]0.05
Phenylalanine [g]0.2
Tyrosine [g]0.17
Valine [g]0.23
Arginine [g]0.31
Histidine [g]0.1
Alanine [g]0.22
Aspartic acid [g]0.38
Glutamic acid [g]0.7
Glycine [g]0.18
Proline [g]0.14
Serine [g]0.21
Sources include : USDA

Health Benefits of Wild Rice

Let’s take a closer look at the important health benefits of wild rice.

Optimizes Digestion

As mentioned above, wild rice boasts an impressive amount of dietary fiber. Aside from optimizing your cholesterol balance, fiber also bulks up your stool and eases your digestive process. By facilitating peristalsis, dietary fiber can help you eliminate constipation, diarrhea, bloating, cramping, excess flatulence, as well as more serious gastrointestinal concerns, gastric ulcers, and hemorrhoids. Research by Judith A Marlett, Ph.D., RD et al. suggest that a fiber-rich diet is also positively linked with a lower risk of colon cancer (Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Issue 2002).

Protects Heart

Wild rice boosts heart health in significant ways. There is no sodium in wild rice, which helps reduce blood pressure. There is also a high level of fiber, which is known to clear out LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) from the cardiovascular system and reduce the chances of developing atherosclerosis. By eliminating the strain on the heart, and boosting repair and damage control with a high level of vitamin C, wild rice is a clear choice for those who want to protect their heart.

Boosts Immunity

Improving the health of your immune system is one of the best ways to increase your overall health. One of the best ways to get that immunity boost is with vitamin C, which is significantly present in wild rice. Vitamin C stimulates the production of white blood cells, the body’s first line of defense against foreign agents, pathogens, and microbes. Furthermore, vitamin C is a critical component of collagen, which is needed for the creation and repair of cells, organs, tissues, and the walls of the blood vessel, helping us recover from illnesses.

Improves Bone Strength

As we age, our bodies begin to break down, including our bones. In order to maintain strong bones, intake of phosphorus-rich foods like wild rice can be very helpful. Phosphorous and zinc are important for maintaining bone mineral density and ensuring strong bones and joints as we age. If you are susceptible to osteoporosis or are already starting to feel those aches in your bones, switch over to wild rice and keep your strength up!

Weight Loss

As a low-calorie and gluten-free food, wild rice can help those who are attempting to lose weight and prevent obesity. Unlike white rice, which can bulk up your diet and actually help gain weight, wild rice prevents overeating due to its high fiber and nutrient content. It does so without supplying a high level of calories to the body. Wild rice also provides a fair balance of essential minerals to our diet.

Prevents Aging

One of the most important benefits you can derive from wild rice comes from its impressive level of antioxidants and it has been confirmed by researchers from the University of Minnesota, US. White rice typically has no antioxidant capacity, but wild rice contains 20-30 times more antioxidants. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, the dangerous byproducts of cellular metabolism that may cause healthy cells to mutate or turn cancerous. This includes the free radicals that accumulate in the skin and can contribute to signs of aging, such as wrinkles, age spots, and slower healing of blemishes. This is also true for the ocular cells, and antioxidants can prevent macular degeneration and the onset of cataracts. If you want to feel and act younger for years to come, then add wild rice to your diet!

Prevents Chronic Diseases

Although the research on chronic diseases takes years of time for solid results to be publicly accepted, the antioxidants in wild rice have been shown to have the potential to lower the chances of certain conditions, including heart-related disorders, and even some types of cancer. This is due to its same neutralizing effect on the dangerous free radicals.

Promotes Growth & Repair

The high protein content found in wild rice can also be good for increasing muscle mass, proper growth, and balanced development of our body. Proteins are made up of amino acids, so adequate protein levels are essential for overall health, and wild rice is a great option for that, particularly for vegetarians who don’t consume animal proteins in their diet.

Prevents Birth Defects

Wild rice has significant levels of vitamins, including vitamin B9, also known as folate or folic acid, and this has been proven to reduce neural tube defects in newborns. Expectant mothers should add wild rice to their diet for all of its important health benefits, particularly if they aren’t getting a proper B-vitamin fix every day.

Word of Caution: There are no known health concerns with wild rice, but as with any food, everything should be consumed in moderation. The worries of nitric oxide that are often raised about white rice do not apply to wild rice.

DMCA.com Protection Status
About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

Rate this article
Average rating 3.9 out of 5.0 based on 339 user(s).

Latest Health News:

Study Shows How Musical Training Improves Cognitive Function

We know that music, particularly musical training can improve the functioning of the brain. But the precise reasons behind this are less known. Now a new…

Graphic showing the coronavirus

Study Reveals Why Some People Show Severe COVID Symptoms

COVID-19 shows a wide range of manifestations among those affected. While some show severe symptoms, many remain asymptomatic. A study carried out by the…

A young man looking out of a window with a subdued expression

COVID-19 Has Increased Levels Of Anxiety & Stress In University Students

An online psychological test of university students in Italy during the COVID-19 outbreak revealed that all of them were in the clinical range for stress and…