Rice as a source of food dates as far back as 2500 B.C. Despite its long history, it’s still one of the most important sources of sustenance in many countries of the world. This grain is often served alongside ethnic cuisines such as Indian, Japanese, and Chinese food, providing a readily available and inexpensive source of starch. While the health benefits of rice were questioned during the low carb craze due to its high carbohydrate content, this food staple has since made a comeback and is again being served on the dinner tables of millions of hungry Americans. While white rice is the most popular type of rice in the United States, it lacks the nutritional value of less processed brown rice. And then there’s wild rice. Which is the healthiest rice to put on the dinner table?
While white rice is the least expensive, most commonly served type of rice; brown rice is making inroads into the mouths of diners as Americans become more health conscious. Many nutrition conscious eaters are discovering the nuttier taste and better nutritional profile offered by this darker rice alternative. Although roughly similar in calories and carbohydrates, brown rice has almost six times the fiber content of its more processed white cousin. Due to its minimal processing, it’s also significantly higher in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. It’s also slightly higher in protein. Why is brown rice the healthiest rice? White rice has had its husk removed which is the source of many of the vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Brown rice retains the husk and has only had the hull removed which is not as rich in nutrients. White rice is higher in iron than white rice because it’s enriched to help increase the nutritional value. Brown rice is surprisingly high in phytonutrients, on par with many fruits and vegetables.
When considering the healthiest rice, another rice deserves consideration. Wild rice is a grain producing grass that grows wild in wetlands in various regions of the United States. Because it’s difficult to harvest, it’s expensive and is considered to be a delicacy. Wild rice has certain advantages over brown rice. It’s lower in calories with brown rice having around 215 calories compared to wild rice with only 166. It’s also lower in carbohydrates than both white rice and brown rice. Its protein and fiber content are very similar to brown rice, although it’s lower in minerals.
The bottom line? Both brown rice and wild rice are healthier overall than overprocessed white rice. They also have a richer taste and texture than standard white rice although this can take some taste adjustment. Try mixing these healthiest rice forms with standard white rice until you can adapt to the taste difference. You’ll be glad you did. It’s a healthier alternative.