There is no doubt about the value of rice nutrition in a balanced, healthy diet. It is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, which are the best kind, stored in muscles and used to give us energy when we need it. Cooked rice contains from 23-25 grams of carbohydrate in each cup--90% of its calories. It also contains good amounts of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Unusual for many high carbohydrate foods, rice contains very high quality proteins, especially when compared to other grains. Rice contains all eight of the essential amino acids, which help to build and maintain muscle tissue and make up enzymes, antibodies and hormones. Essential amino acids cannot be produced by the human body but only obtained from protein-rich foods. In order for protein to be synthesized and absorbed all of the essential amino acids must be present and in a certain order. Rice has meets these qualifications and rates a biological value of 86 in protein compared to a value of 100 for high quality egg protein, the standard by which all protein is judged. No other grain comes close to this quality of protein.
Other components of rice nutrition are thiamin, riboflavin, phosphorus, iron, niacin, and potassium. Brown rice has even more nutrients containing large amounts of B vitamins, iron, calcium, selenium and other trace minerals. In the United States, the greatest amount of rice consumed is white rice. During processing, thiamin, niacin, and iron are lost but then added again later. This is what gives most American rice the label of “enriched” rice.
Brown rice, on the other hand, is whole grain rice with all of its nutrients intact. It contains three times as much fiber as white rice. Interestingly enough, white rice started out as brown rice but then had its bran, husk and germ removed. Even when white rice is enriched it does not reach the nutrient content of brown rice which continues to have not only more fiber, but also more calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin E. Plus, in order to digest white rice our bodies must use its own enzymes, vitamins and minerals pulled from other places to digest it. B vitamins were invented as a supplement originally to make up for this loss.
So, whenever possible eat brown rice. It’s also easier to digest, and according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, if you eat a low fat diet that has 10% of its fiber from rice bran, you can reduce your cholesterol by 15%. B vitamins also aid in the functioning of our brain and nervous system.
As if these rice nutrition facts weren’t enough, rice is also sodium free, gluten free, and has only a trace of fat. Rice is not only good as a dinner food, it tastes great in cereals, soups, chili, with salsa and is also healthy as a milk drink and dessert sweetener.