In the supermarket you will come across many different types: white rice, brown rice, basmati rice, pandan rice or even multigrain rice. Very tasty of course with all kinds of different dishes, but is rice actually healthy?
With all those different packs and bags of rice, we sometimes really don’t see the trees through the forest anymore. So, what kind of rice should you choose if you want to make a healthy choice?
What is rice?
Rice is a cereal that belongs to the grass family, which is mainly grown and eaten in China and India. Much of the rice we eat in the Netherlands comes from: Thailand, Vietnam, the United States and India. It contains fiber and carbohydrates, as well as a lot of different nutrients.
Rice is a hugely important foodstuff in many non-Western parts of the world, as it is cheap and easy to grow in warm areas. In the Netherlands, many people eat rice regularly, but compared to the rest of the world, that is really not so bad. We eat an average of about four kilos of rice per year here, while the global average is almost 86 kilos annually.
Different types of rice
There are quite a few types of rice, but the most famous types in the Netherlands are white rice and brown rice. Those two types of rice are actually made from the same grain of rice, only they have been processed differently. The difference is in the film around the grain. With brown rice that husk is still there, and with white rice it has been removed. Hence the color difference between the two rice varieties.
White rice is the best-known type of rice for most Dutch people. It has a fairly neutral taste and is the simplest type of rice. For white rice, the skin is removed from the rice grain, so that you only eat the core of the rice grain. That certainly doesn’t make white rice bad for you, but it does contain a lot less nutrients and vitamins than brown rice. This can be compared to the proportions between a white sandwich and a brown sandwich. Because white rice contains less fiber, it is a lot less filling and your blood sugar will rise faster.
As mentioned earlier, brown rice is a type of rice with more health benefits than white rice. Because the membrane is still around this type of rice, all nutrients are better preserved. This type of rice therefore contains much more fiber, magnesium, iron and other nutrients than white rice. It is slightly higher in calories, but according to the Nutrition Center, that is offset by the amount you need to be full. In general, brown rice is seen as the healthier variety of rice.
Other famous types of rice
Basmati rice, pandan rice and jasmine rice are also well known in the Netherlands. These types of rice are grown in different parts of the world and differ slightly per taste. Basmati rice, for example, is more fragrant and refined, while pandan rice has a more nutty taste. Of these types of rice there is often both a white and a pericarp variety, of which the pericarp variety also contains more nutrients.
How much is a serving of rice?
According to the Netherlands Nutrition Center, one portion of rice is about one hundred grams of uncooked rice. If you weigh it in, that may seem like very little, but during cooking the rice absorbs a lot of water. It becomes two and a half times heavier and you end up with a portion of about 250 grams of rice per person.
These are the nutritional values of one hundred grams of cooked white rice:
- Calories: 160
- Fat: 0.3 g (0.1 g saturated)
- Carbohydrates: 36 g
- Fiber: 1 g
- Protein: 3 g
And these are the nutritional values of one hundred grams of cooked brown rice:
- Calories: 171
- Fat: 1.8 g (0.1 g saturated)
- Carbohydrates: 37 g
- Fiber: 3.1 g
- Protein: 3.9 g
Is rice healthy?
Rice is generally healthy and good for us. It is rich in good carbohydrates and fiber, it contains many different minerals and vitamins and it is free from salt, fat and sugars. Still, one type of rice is healthier than another, as we have seen before.
It is also wise not to eat huge amounts of rice, because it contains the substance arsenic. Arsenic, or arsenic, is one of the heavy metals that is mainly found in soil and groundwater. Because rice grows in water and the plant absorbs ground water, it can contain a reasonable amount of arsenic. By boiling rice in plenty of water, you can wash away a large part of the arsenic and this does not cause any damage to health.