How to Choose the Healthiest Rice

Three Parts:Choosing a Nutritious VarietyLooking for the Healthiest Options at the Grocery StoreIncorporating Rice into a Balanced Diet

There are many different types of rice available in markets today. This can make it difficult to figure out which versions of rice are the healthiest or most nutritious for your body. Whether it's long grain, basmati, black or wild rice, each type comes with it's own unique set of health benefits. However, not all types of rice are considered nutritious or healthy. In fact, when rices are highly or overly processed, many of the naturally occurring nutrients are lost. Since rice is such an important part of many cultures and a main component of diets, learning how to pick out a nutritious source of rice is essential.[1]

Part 1
Choosing a Nutritious Variety

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    Try brown rice. Brown rice is probably the most common and well known nutritious types of rice. It's a 100% whole grain and has a whole host of health benefits and nutrients associated with it. If you're looking for a nutritious rice, try this chewy and nutty version.
    • Brown rice is actually the same grain as white rice - just less processed. It's very nutritious because of this lack of processing. It still contains the bran, germ and endosperm.[2] Each one of these parts has it's own set of nutrients.
    • Brown rice is considered a fairly nutrient dense food. For only 1 cup, its about 200 calories total.
    • In addition, per cup, brown rice has 4 g of fiber, 24 g of protein and 88% of your daily needs for manganese. It's also high in phosphorus, selenium, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin and Vitamin B6.
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    Cook up wild rice. Another extremely nutritious rice to consider is wild rice. Although technically not an actual rice per say (it's a water grass seed), wild rice has even more nutrients and antioxidants than your more commonly found brown rice.[3]
    • Wild rice was originally grown and farmed in the United States by Native Americans. Although this is a grass seed, wild rice is still considered a 100% whole grain.
    • Wild rice has fewer calories than brown rice - about 160 calories per cup compared to 200 calories - and also contains 3 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein.[4]
    • This grain also contains high amounts of folate, zinc, copper, manganese and choline.
    • Studies have shown that consumption of wild rice may help lower unhealthy triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
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    Look for black rice. Black rice or forbidden rice is a much more unique and exotic form of rice. It's nice black color is beautiful to look at but also is the source of a variety of antioxidants and vitamins.
    • What makes black rice black in color are antioxidants called anthocyanins (the same ones found in blueberries and blackberries). These cancer-fighting compounds are found in exceptionally high quantities in the hull or outside of black rice.[5]
    • Black rice is particularly high in Vitamin E which helps protect and support your immune system and also helps protect your body's cells from damage by free radicals.
    • Black rice also contains about 160 calories per cup with high amounts of fiber, protein and B Vitamins as well.[6]
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    Try sprouted rice. Sprouted grains and grain products are 100% whole grains and have become more popular lately due to the health benefits they contain. Sprouting rice makes it nutritionally superior to other forms of rice - even brown rice.[7]
    • When you're sprouting rice, you're allowing the seed to germinate and get ready for growth in a new plant. As the seeds continue to get ready to grow, certain enzymes are deactivated which makes all the nutrients of the grain more available to your body.
    • Sprouted rice has higher amounts of Vitamin C, folate, iron, protein and fiber. Some studies have shown that sprouted rice is slightly lower in carbohydrates compared to those that are not sprouted.[8]
    • If you cannot find sprouted brown rice near you, try making your own sprouted rice at home. Keep brown rice grains in a moist environment for at least 3 days until the hull just cracks open.
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    Buy Bhutanese red rice. A little less common, this red rice is another very nutritious type of rice. In addition to being high in a variety of nutrients, this rice is great because it take about 20 minutes to cook.[9]
    • Bhutanese red rice is native to the Himalayas. The nutrient content of the soil is why this particular rice is also high in a variety of nutrients as well.
    • Like black rice, Bhutanese red rice also contains anthocyanins in the hull. Due to these antioxidants both red and black rice have 10 times the amount of antioxidants than brown rice.
    • This particular type of rice is also high in protein and fiber but has 20% of your daily needs magnesium, phosphorus, and molybdenum.

Part 2
Looking for the Healthiest Options at the Grocery Store

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    Always go for whole grains. Not all rice varieties sold in supermarkets are considered a whole grain. Whenever you're looking to purchase a healthy and nutritious rice, you want to choose a rice that's also a whole grain.
    • It's important to find a rice that's considered a whole grain because those versions of rice have more nutrients and are considered more nutrient dense. Whole grains are less processed than refined grains leaving all those beneficial nutrients intact.
    • 100% whole grains are typically higher in fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals compared to refined grains. If you're going for some rice, always choose 100% whole grains for this reason.[10]
    • Try to limit or avoid white rices. It doesn't matter if it's basmati rice, long grain rice or sushi rice, if it's any type of white rice, it's lower in nutrients.
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    Choose minimally processed rices. When you're shopping for rice at the supermarket, you'll see there are a whole bunch of varieties available. Although this is great for consumers, it can get overwhelming when you're trying to find a nutritious and healthy rice to serve at home.
    • One of the best bets, is to go with a box or bag of plain whole grain rice. These may be found in bulk or bulk bags at your grocery store. They have no additives or seasonings at all.
    • Beware of rice mixes or rice dishes. Although they may look like a good deal, these may have a significant amount of added salt to them. It's best to buy your own plain rice and add seasonings at home.
    • If you do buy a boxed rice blend or seasoned rice mix, read the label to see what's in it. Look to make sure its 100% whole grain rice (brown rice, wild rice or brown basmati rice) and that the seasonings included fit into your eating plan.
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    Try frozen or par-cooked rices. One downside of rice, especially the nutritious whole grain rice, is that they can take a long time to cook. That nutritious outer hull lengthens the cooking time (to 45-60 minutes total) compared to the more processed white rices.[11]
    • If you want to include some of these nutritious whole grain rices to your meals, consider looking in your freezer section. You might be surprised to find bags of frozen, pre cooked whole grain rice. A quick microwave and your nutritious rice is ready to go.
    • You may also want to look for the par-cooked or "microwavable" rice you see in the grain aisle of the store. These are almost all the way cooked and are just as nutritious as cooking them from scratch yourself. A few minutes in the microwave and it's ready to go.
    • If you have time and enjoy cooking, consider making larger batches of your favorite whole grain rice on the weekends. You can portion out individual servings and freeze them for a quick dinner time side during the week.
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    Consider purchasing organic rice. Another option you might want to look for is organic rice. Although the nutrient content is the same compared to conventionally grown rice, there are some benefits of choosing organic.[12]
    • When you're grocery shopping, look for rices or rice mixtures that are labeled 100% organic. This means that they abide by the USDA organic labeling laws and none of the ingredients (if you buy a rice blend) are conventional.
    • Farmers do use a variety of pesticides on rice plants. Purchasing organic rice will allow you to avoid pesticides and any residual residue that's left on the rice grains themselves.
    • Note that the nutritional value of the rice remains the same regardless of whether or not you choose an organic variety.

Part 3
Incorporating Rice into a Balanced Diet

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    Measure out an appropriate portion size. Portion sizes are a very important part of an overall nutritious and balanced diet. If you're going out of the way to choose a nutritious grain, make sure you incorporate it into your diet in a healthy manner.
    • Choosing a more nutritious food, like a whole grain rice, is a great start to a healthy diet. However, if you eat larger portions of even these healthier foods, you may still be consuming too many calories for your body.
    • Since grains are a carbohydrate rich group, it's important to measure the appropriate portion size. Make sure you're measuring the appropriate portion size of your whole grain rice. Go for 1/2 cup of cooked whole grain rice per serving.[13]
    • In addition, you want to incorporate them in the right amounts. It's not a good idea to eat several servings of grains each day. Go for 2-3 servings of whole grains everyday. The rest of your day should be divided up with lean protein, fruits and vegetables.
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    Try other whole grains. Although brown rice, wild rice or even sprouted rice are all wonderful sources of a variety of nutrients, you should consider trying some other whole grains as well.
    • One aspect that's important to a healthy diet is variety. Even if you eat nutritious foods each day, if you have a very limited and unvaried diet, you're missing out on the nutrients that are available from other foods.[14]
    • In addition to whole grain rice, try other whole grain foods like: millet, farro, quinoa, teff, amaranth, oats or whole grain wheat.
    • For example, you could have a bowl of whole grain oatmeal for breakfast, a sandwich made with whole wheat bread for lunch and serve your favorite chicken and vegetable stir fry with sprouted brown rice for dinner.
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    Choose healthy cooking methods. Although there aren't too many different cooking methods for rice and other grains, it's still important to make sure that you're using healthy cooking techniques.
    • Although whole grain rice does come with many health benefits it wouldn't make sense to cook it with a lot of added fat, sugar or sodium.
    • For basic cooking, boil rices in water or even low sodium or homemade broth. These methods add very little extra fat or sodium. Broth in particular is a great way to impart a lot of good flavor.
    • If you're making a rice dish, be careful of what you add to it as well. For example, instead of tossing butter with your steamed rice, go for a drizzle of olive oil for a heart healthy source of fat.[15]
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    Add extra nutrition to your rice. To really boost the overall nutrition content of your whole grain rice is by serving it with other nutrient dense foods. Together, these foods can provide you with a whole host of beneficial nutrients.
    • Serve your whole grain rice with some sort of lean protein. These foods are naturally lower in calories and fat. Include a 3-4 oz serving of a lean protein like chicken, turkey, lean beef, tofu, seafood or beans.[16]
    • Also serve your whole grain rice with a serving or two of vegetables. Like lean protein, these foods are also naturally low in calories and fat. However, they're also high in fiber, vitamins and antioxidants. Add in a cup or two of your favorite vegetables to round out your meal.[17]


  • When you're looking for the healthiest form of rice, start by looking for 100% whole grain rice, not processed rices.
  • Although brown rice is one of the most common forms of nutritious rice, consider trying something more unique like black rice or sprouted rice.

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Categories: Nutrition and Lifestyle Eating