Rice: Great Addition to a Healthy Diet
"Rice is a good choice for a healthy diet. It is a good source of complex carbohydrates and can help you achieve a reduced fat diet." -- American Dietetic Association
Rice sustains two-thirds of the world's population. It is the most popular grain globally, supplying energy, complex carbohydrates, fiber, essential vitamins and minerals and beneficial antioxidants.
Rice is a wholesome and nutritious cereal grain that has qualities which make it ideally suited for special dietary and health needs.
Whether you want to improve your nutrition, lose weight, boost your energy or help prevent chronic diseases like heart disease or diabetes, rice can help you achieve your goals.
Guidelines for Americans
According to the USDA's Dietary Guidelines for Americans, enriched and whole grain foods, like enriched white rice and whole grain brown rice, are among the food groups that form the basis of a healthy diet. In fact, the Dietary Guidelines state that 45 to 65 percent of daily calories should come from carbohydrates, preferably complex carbs. Rice, a nutrient rich complex carbohydrate, fits today's recommendations to get the most nutrition from calories consumed, and provides energy the body needs for physical activity.
What Makes Rice Naturally Nutritious
- Is sodium and cholesterol free
- Has only a trace of fat and has no cholesterol raising trans fats or saturated fat
- Is gluten-free and the most non-allergenic of all grains
- Is nutrient dense and contributes over 15 vitamins and minerals including folate and other B-vitamins, iron and zinc
- Has approximately 100 calories per half-cup cooked serving
- Is comprised of complex carbohydrates that are more slowly digested
- Triggers the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain that helps regulate and improve mood
- Is an energy food, supplying carbohydrates that fuel the body's physical activity
Rice protein is considered one of the highest quality proteins. It has all eight of the essential amino acids, necessary building blocks for strong muscles. Rice is also a good source of other essential nutrients: thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, phosphorus, iron, and potassium. Rice is healthful for what it does not contain as well. It has only a trace of fat, no cholesterol and no sodium. This along with being non-allergenic, makes rice especially well suited for persons with special dietary needs.
Rice is Gluten Free
Rice is gluten-free and can be an important staple in diets of individuals with gluten sensitivity. The National Institutes of Health report that Celiac Disease might affect three million Americans.
Rice Eaters Eat Better
Research conducted by Iowa State University showed that U.S. consumers who eat rice have healthier diets than non-rice eaters. According to the data, people who eat rice have healthier diets in that they eat:
- more fruits and vegetables
- less fat and added sugars
- higher amounts of nutrients like folic acid, potassium and iron
- are less likely to be obese than non-rice eaters
U.S. Grown Rice and Diet: A Perfect Combination
Most of the white rice consumed in the United States is enriched. Rice naturally contains thiamin, niacin and iron. However, during the milling process, the quantity of these nutrients is reduced. To bring the nutritional level of the milled product up to that of the whole grain (brown), rice is enriched with thiamin, niacin, iron and folic acid . All enriched rice is additionally fortified with folic acid. In fact, enriched white rice is fortified with substantially more of the B-vitamin folic acid and is considered a good source, supplying over 10 percent of daily requirement per half-cup serving. Folic acid helps prevent chronic disease and birth defects.
Nearly 90 percent of the rice consumed in the U.S. is home grown. Each year, over 3 million acres are harvested by rice farmers in Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Missouri. Types of rice grown are long, medium and short grain. There are many U.S. grown rice varieties available, ranging from classic white and brown rice, to basmati, jasmine, della and arborio, and specialty varieties like black japonica and aromatic red rice. Increasingly, aromatic rice varieties such as basmati and jasmine are also available to meet consumer demand.
Choosing the Right U.S. Grown Rice
There are no hard and fast rules on which type of rice to use in any particular recipe. The nice thing is that there are a number of varieties to choose from. Long grain white and brown rice work well in entrees, side dishes, soups and salads, if you prefer separate, distinct grains. It is perfect for pilafs, stir-fry and Southern favorites like jambalaya and gumbo. Short and medium grain rice are good choices for dishes that have a creamier characteristic, such as risotto or rice puddings, and also work well in rice salads. Short grain rice is the traditional rice used in sushi and other Asian dishes.
Rice offers versatility unsurpassed by any other food. It can be made a part of any meal in recipes for soups, salads, main dishes, and desserts. It is an easily prepared, economical base for gourmet recipes and quick and easy home cooking alike. The neutral flavor of rice blends well with all foods. From meats and dairy products, to fruits, nuts and vegetables, rice adds nutrition, texture and flavor to any dish it accompanies.
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