A majority of the world population consumes rice as a staple food. The Asian, European, and South American countries – all of them have a cuisine, which is predominantly based around rice. In many places, especially in Africa, rice is a symbol of food security as it is widely available and cheaper to obtain when compared to vegetables and fruits. However, given that rice is acquired from plants, does that mean it is a vegetable, after all? Let us find out.
Is Rice A Vegetable Or Grain?
By definition, vegetables are a ‘herbaceous plant grown for an edible part that is usually eaten as part of a meal’. By that logic, rice can be considered as a vegetable. This means that not only will rice then be considered a vegetable but also papyrus reeds, mangoes, and the like, will be considered the same. However, no one in their right frame of mind would ever call them a vegetable. So what counts for a vegetable? What mode of categorization can be put in place to remove certain foods from the vegetable category?
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are 5 subgroups under which vegetables can be categorized: starchy vegetables, dark-green vegetables, beans and peas, red and orange vegetables, and other vegetables. These vegetables in the food group, include romaine lettuce, broccoli, spinach, potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, peas, corn, kidney beans, lettuce, chickpeas, onions, green beans, navy and pinto beans among others. This shows that there are still many plant-based foods that are absent from this group, which are included in the other food groups like fruits, grains & cereals, and proteins.
Rice, much like wheat, rye, oats, barley, and millets is categorized under grains. A healthy eating pattern includes grains, which can be segregated into two groups- whole grains and refined grains. While brown rice is a form of whole grain, its white counterpart is created out of it through a milling process that discards the husk, bran, and germ portions of the cereal. Needless to say, brown rice, which is rich in dietary fiber and vitamins and minerals is a healthier option than white rice.
So, to sum it up, rice is not a vegetable but a form of grain, which is an essential part of one’s daily diet nonetheless. According to the National Institute of Aging, a healthy diet comprises a proper mix of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, proteins, low-fat, low-sodium, and low-sugar foods. And a moderate amount of rice, preferably brown rice, will benefit your health by aiding in weight loss, managing diabetes, and maintaining a healthy heart.