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Rice is a Staple Food

Rice: A Staple Food

The World Loves Rice

Culturally, rice has long been associated with fertility. You see this in American society as a tradition of pelting brides and grooms with rice as they leave the church after their wedding ceremony.

Rice is the staple food for two-thirds of the world's population. Rice is a wholesome and nutritious cereal grain and it has qualities which make it ideally suited for special dietary needs.

Rice contains a very high percentage of carbohydrates (ranging from 23.3 to 25.5 grams per 100 grams of cooked rice).

As a matter of fact, 90 percent of the calories in rice come from carbohydrates. Rice, a complex carbohydrate food, provides more vitamins, minerals, and fiber than simple carbohydrate foods.


  • Contains only 103 calories per half-cup serving of white rice and 108 calories per half-cup serving of brown rice.
  • Is cholesterol-free.
  • Is fat-free.
  • Is sodium-free.
  • Is a complex carbohydrate.
  • Is gluten-free and non-allergenic.
  • Is easy to digest.
  • Rice is an ideal food to include in sodium-restricted diets.

Dietary Fiber, Protein, Fat & Rice

Fiber. Experts recommend we consume at least 25 grams of fiber every day to decrease risk of chronic diseases. Fiber-rich foods help promote proper bowel function and reduce the risk of developing intestinal disorders. One-half cup cooked white rice provides 0.3 grams of dietary fiber. One-half cup cooked brown rice provides 1.8 grams of dietary fiber.

Protein The protein content of rice, while limited (ranging from 2.0 to 2.5 mg. per 1/2 cup of cooked rice), is considered one of the highest quality proteins to that provided by other cereal grains.

Fat Rice contains only a trace of fat (ranging from 0.2 grams for 1/2 cup cooked white rice to 0.9 grams per 100 grams for 1/2 cup cooked brown rice). The Dietary Guidelines of Americans include a reduction in current intake of total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. Because rice is very low in fat (less than 1-percent of the calories come from fat), and contains no cholesterol, it is an excellent food to include in all types of diets.

Eating and Cooking Brown Rice

Part of the push to replace processed foods with whole grains means eating more brown rice instead of white. Brown rice has more nutrient value than white rice. Brown rice is a 100 percent whole grain food. A one-half cup serving of cooked brown rice counts as a whole grain serving. Whole grains contain the nutrient-dense bran and inner germ layer where the majority of beneficial compounds are found as well as the starchy endosperm where most of the carbohydrate calories are located.

Brown rice protein is hypo-allergic and easily digested, making it an excellent alternative for anyone with a sensitive stomach or allergies to soy or dairy. Whole grains like brown rice help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers, and aid in weight management.

Brown Rice Whole grains like brown rice include the bran and germ of the natural grain that are lost in processing to make white rice, which contains only the inner endosperm. A lot of good stuff gets lost in the bargain: Brown rice has almost 10 times as much phosphorus and potassium as white rice, for instance.

Brown rice is plant based; it's not a complete protein, so pair it with other plant based proteins such as pea protein powder to complete the essential amino acid profile.

You can cook brown rice the same as white rice, but you may have to increase the amount of liquid in a recipe by about 1/3 cup per 2-cups of rice. Since brown rice can be a little bit harder to get tender, we'll cover the "pilaf" method. This will add flavor and fluff to brown rice.

Pilaf Method

Heat 1-tablespoon olive oil in a medium pot. If desired, add 1/2-cup chopped onions for flavor but cook them until soft before adding rice. Add 1-cup rice to oil, toast, stirring and cooking quickly until all the grains are coated, for one minute. Add 2-1/2-cups water or vegetable stock. Bring to a fast boil and cook, uncovered, for one minute. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 40 to 45 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. The rice will be cooked but still firm (uncover it briefly and check it). Cover the pot and allow to rest for five minutes. Fluff with a fork and it is ready to eat.

Notes: Brown Rice will only last about six months before it gets stale. When it get stale, it is very difficult to get it tender. Red and black whole grain rice varieties are increasingly popular in the U.S. and offer all the whole grain goodness of brown.

Did you know?

Rice vinegar, made from fermented rice, is often used to add a slight acidity in cooked dishes and to make dressings for delicate greens. It is available either plain or sweetened.

Quick Hoppin' John Risotto Recipe Card

Quick Hoppin John Risotto Recipe Card

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