There are some foods like Awesome avocado And the Crispy cabbage, which have been widely praised as food gold mines. Then there are the plant foods that are more open to discussion, such as Everyone’s favorite potato and pickles. (For the record, they both boast their own nutritional benefits.)
White rice is another type that many consider unhealthy, despite it being one of the most widely consumed foods in the world. In fact, white rice is a staple food in Okinawa, Japan Known as the Blue Zone Because its more than 100 residents regularly live in good health.
Stephanie Sassus, MS, RDN, CDN says, Deputy Director of Nutrition at The Good Housekeeping Institute.
Cindy Chu, Chef and Registered Dietitian at cooking sound And the Feeding Cancer in a BowlMany people in the United States overlook the nutritional benefits of white rice, he says. “Nutrition recommendations in the United States have been mostly Eurocentric and do not take into account the cultural significance of foods like white rice,” she says. “It is not only a staple food in many different cultures, but it is also enjoyed with a source of protein and vegetables.”
Have you already started thinking about white rice in a new way? Keep reading to learn exactly how eating it can benefit the body and how it compares to brown rice.
White rice nutrition stats
according to United States Department of AgricultureHere’s what you’ll get per cup of white rice:
- 205 calories
- 4 grams protein
- 0.4 g total fat
- 44 g carbs
- 0.6 g fiber
- 16 mg calcium
- 2 mg iron
- 19 mg magnesium
- 68 mg phosphorous
- 55 mg potassium
The health benefits of white rice
1. Helps provide the body with energy.
One of the reasons why many view white rice as an unhealthy food is its carbohydrate content. Chou offers this wake-up call: The carbohydrates in white rice are exactly one of the reasons behind this It’s healthy food. “Carbohydrates also provide energy for other cells in our bodies, including muscles,” she says. “Our bodies break down carbohydrates, like rice, into glucose, which is your brain’s preferred source of energy.”
Besides carbohydrates, Cho points out that white rice contains some protein, another nutrient that provides the body with energy. In this way, taking it can help revitalize the body not in one way, but in two ways.
2. Supports brain health.
3. It can improve your mood.
What we eat has the potential for it It directly affects our mood. B vitamins and folic acid in white rice Both are linked to a reduced risk of depression. The fact that white rice is comfortable to eat, and soaking up all the delicious flavors that it pairs with, can definitely improve your mood too.
4. It is the perfect way to eat foods rich in other nutrients.
“The fact that white rice is usually enjoyed with proteins and vegetables is often overlooked,” Zhou says. For example, if you use white rice to make a file Fry with chicken, bok choy and red pepperYou’ll get plenty of great protein and gut-healthy fiber. And let’s be honest, the dish could be a lot less appealing without the rice.
“Some of the misconceptions about white rice being ‘less healthy’ consider it only as a stand-alone ingredient, and that’s not how it’s used in everyday life. Instead of focusing on specific nutrients in one ingredient, it’s helpful to think of a recipe or meal as a whole,” Chu says.
5. Supports cellular health.
Cho, another often-overlooked nutrient, notes that white rice contains phosphorous. phosphorous Important for cellular health, as it helps the growth of new cells as well as the maintenance and repair of existing cells. If the cells of the body are not in tip-top shape, the body will not function properly, which is why this nutrient is so important.
6. It’s good for your bones.
Keeping the body’s cells in good shape isn’t the only hat phosphorous wears. It is also a key nutrient for bone health. So is calcium, which is another nutrient you’ll find in white rice. This is another health benefit of white rice that has been overlooked.
Are there downsides to eating white rice?
Obviously, white rice has many health benefits, but white rice has a high glycemic index, which means that it can cause a spike in blood sugar. This means that people with type 2 diabetes need to pay attention to their white rice intake.
‘People with Type 2 diabetes Or worry about blood sugar levels You can still enjoy white rice by including a source of protein, fat, and fiber, says Cho, adding that if you’re concerned, it’s always best to talk to your healthcare provider first. “Incorporating a protein source and vegetables will help with a gradual increase in blood glucose levels,” she says.
In general, Cho sees no downsides to eating white rice. “They are usually easy to reach, have a longer shelf life, are faster to cook, easily digested, and are convenient to eat,” she says.
Is it okay to eat white rice every day?
Sassos says white rice absorbs arsenic more easily from its growing environment than other foods. “Arsenic exists in two forms, organic and inorganic, and is an element that is naturally present in water and soil according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences,” she explained. “Arsenic is Known human carcinogen It can be harmful when consumed in large quantities. If you eat rice daily in large quantities, the arsenic content may pose a health risk.”
If you’re concerned about arsenic exposure, Sassos says you can reduce the arsenic content in rice by first washing it and then cooking it with clean water that’s low in arsenic. “As long as you eat rice in moderation—no more than a few times a week—and wash it before cooking, it should be completely safe to consume,” she says.
How does white rice compare to brown rice?
First, it is important to know exactly how they differ. Brown rice contains all three parts of the kernel of the grain and is considered a whole grain. White rice differs from brown rice in terms of removing the bran and germ,” Sassos says. She also explains that white rice is usually enriched which means nutrients are added to it, so it’s not necessarily any less nutritious than brown rice.
Sassos points out two benefits brown rice has over white rice: It’s slightly higher in fiber and has a lower glycemic index, which means it won’t raise blood sugar levels as much.
“When comparing white rice to brown rice alone, white rice has less fiber and nutrients overall,” Chu says. But she stresses that this does not mean that one is healthier than the other. “Because rice is usually paired with other foods, the difference in nutrients as a whole is negligible,” she says. Her advice on which one to choose is to pick the one you like best. “Those who enjoy the taste and texture of brown rice more than white rice or who need to increase their fiber intake as well as add more fruits and vegetables to their meals may benefit from eating [brown rice instead of white rice]’, she says. ‘But in general, I don’t see any point in substituting white rice especially if that’s what you’re eating when you grew up.’
It is also useful to keep in mind that there are files Many other rice varieties Behind the white and brown. For example, Sassus says that wild rice (which is actually a type of water grass) is slightly higher in protein than other types of rice, and Contains up to 30 times the amount of antioxidants This is white rice. It just goes to show that cooking with different types of rice not only adds variety to the flavor of your meals but provides a wide range of nutrients as well.
Bottom line: Is white rice healthy for you?
With all this in mind, keep in mind that the debate over whether white rice is healthy is officially settled. White rice has many health benefits and minimal negatives. White rice is not eaten on its own and is often combined with other nutrient-rich foods such as protein sources and lean vegetables, making it a great way to incorporate nutritious foods into a balanced diet.
Emily is a freelance writer and certified health coach who specializes in writing on issues of mental health, fitness, healthy food, and social justice. Emily spent six years as an editor and writer at Well + Good, covering everything from food trends to serious issues like America’s opioid crisis and gun violence. I also worked in SeventeenAnd the deerAnd the twist magazines. She writes regularly for publications including Forbes, processionAnd the appearanceand The Huffington Post. Emily lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with her cat, Evie.
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