A white rice diet is no longer considered the healthy norm, but even so, eating white rice does have some health advantages over other carbohydrate choices. Though there has been a push in the media and by many diets to cut out all refined carbohydrates (and eat only whole grains), white rice is actually packed with nutrients and is a staple for millions of people around the world.
White Rice Nutritional Values
White rice falls within the carbohydrate food group, with 85% of its makeup being carbohydrate, 7% fat and 8% protein, as well as offering a wide array of amino acids. White rice is very low in fat and has a higher protein quality at 66% than corn at 49% and whole wheat at 53%. One cup of white rice provides your body with 5 grams of protein and 205 calories.
Rice is a low cholesterol and low fat food that has been used as a part of many diet programs because of its nutritional makeup. Throughout Asia, white rice is a staple food that is eaten every day, and in many cases, at every meal.
White Rice vs Brown Rice
Brown rice is simply the same rice as white rice, but without the outer bran removed, making it a whole grain. In being a whole grain, it has greater fiber content – 3.5 grams compared to white rice’s .75 grams per serving. We need nearly 30 grams of fiber daily, and therefore, brown rice is often considered the healthy choice when adding rice to your diet.
In addition to the fiber content difference, brown rice also has more nutrients (that are stripped during the processing of white rice). These include magnesium, manganese and zinc. Though these nutrients are lower in white rice, it is often fortified with iron and B vitamins during processing.
White Rice and Dieting
The high calorie count of white rice is one reason why white rice is often avoided when on a diet. However, as long as you take into account the amount of calories and watch your overall intake, eating white rice should have no adverse side effects. It is low in fat and can help fill you up as part of a healthy diet.
Most cultures that eat rice as a staple do so in conjunction with eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and lean proteins. While the American diet has historically stressed meat as a main course, in Asian cuisine where white rice is prevalent, meat is often served in much smaller portions, like in a stir fry. When eating this kind of diet, the decreased amounts of calories from meat are substituted with an increase in calories from white rice and vegetables. This substitution is lower in fat and cholesterol and can provide great weight loss.
White rice on its own is a healthy food. If you are dieting, be sure to watch your intake and count your calories so that you are staying within your daily calorie limits while eating white rice. However, there is little reason to avoid it entirely. While not having the health benefits of brown rice, white rice is still very nutritionally sound and healthy to eat.