Sure, we’ve seen the funny bumper stickers that recommend eating rice because potatoes “make your butt big.” Really though, how healthy is rice? It is a staple of a balanced, nutritious diet? Does it offer the nutrients your body needs?
Is it easy to digest or does it present a problem for your body’s systems? Is it easy to cook with? These questions and more come up along the way when you start researching what to eat for optimum health. Let’s find out the truth behind rice and why we should eat it!
Is Brown Rice a Healthy Choice?
Walk into any nutrition store and you’ll likely hear someone throwing around the words “brown rice” regarding a recent meal they’ve had.
If you’ve never eaten it, you’re probably wondering what the difference is between white rice and brown rice. Nutrition and diet experts are starting to figure that whole grains are more filling for the body, as well as healthy.
Brown rice falls into that category. Since your body has to work harder to break this kernel down individually, it also receives the benefits of each layer of that rice kernel.
Think of brown rice as three nutritious layers that each offer your body something different. Each time your body breaks through a layer, it’s able to absorb those nutrients and put them to work.
The complex sugars and carbohydrates that come from this process are healthier for your body as well. Nothing is removed from the rice before you eat it and that means you gain all the diet benefits it has to offer.
On the flip side, white rice has its benefits, but it is not as complex as brown rice. It’s been refined and broken down, so there is no whole grain covering for your body to work through.
Some of the nutrients have been added back into the kernel after processing, but it’s not quite as complete a picture as the brown rice. Depending on your meal and taste choices, this might not matter.
For others, it might make a huge difference. Really, it comes down to what your eating goals are and how each item on your plate tastes. The white rice offers an extended shelf life, so you’re able to keep it longer than brown rice.
The nutrients that are added back in are incredible for your body, such as iron, vitamin B, niacin and others. When the white rice is enriched, it has high levels of folate, which improves the ability of your body’s cells to divide. Naturally, this affects every type of cell, including those in your immune system.
The benefits of eating rice are superior to any junk food you might have lying around, whether you choose brown or white. You can also alter the taste of the rice to savory or sweet, based on what you add to it.
What Part of Your Body Benefits from Rice?
It’s amazing to see how many ways we benefit from healthy food. In this instance of including rice in your diet, especially brown rice, everything from your brain to your nervous system to your heart will improve.
The levels of antioxidants that arrive in that little brown grain are powerful. They can help conditions like skin problems, elevated cholesterol and even mental depression.
In fact, it’s an interesting fact about rice that it contains natural properties that work as anti-depressants. If you can eat a delicious food and supplement the benefits of medications, you’re giving your body twice the benefit.
Rice has been shown to help with diabetes, obesity and even cancer. There are so many reasons to include this grain in your diet and many of them are unknown. One particularly healthy variety of brown rice is known as sprouted brown rice. It has extremely high nutritional value.
It does require a little extra prep time for cooking, but the taste and benefits you receive are unmatched. Part of its germination processing, hence the term ‘sprouted’, allows essential nutrients such as lysine, potassium and dietary fiber to increase.
When you eat this food, you feel fuller and you’re able to absorb more of the nutrients due to the higher levels of proteins and enzymes it contains.
Your bones improve. Your immunity system gets stronger. You sleep better because it works to lessen your insomnia.
Your brain feels better because of the natural anti-depressant properties. Your nervous system will function more efficiently. It can help prevent cancer.
It will be easier to control high levels of cholesterol, since the addition of brown rice helps to decrease this. Your heart and cardiovascular system will be stronger. Digestively, it’s easy for your body to take in and absorb all the nutrients it has to offer.
Women who are lactating can experience less stress when they eat rice. Rice has also been shown to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. It reduces the chances of becoming obese.
Antioxidant levels in your body will be higher. Finally, it will help you control your diabetes. If that’s not a list of healthy properties for your body worth paying attention to, I don’t know what is.
How Healthy is Rice for Kids?
Most people, young, old or in between, have a rice dish they enjoy. The great news is that the health benefits affect everyone the same. For infants who start out on rice cereal, not only do they feel fuller but they sleep better. For young children who want to have a finger food, they love to pick up the kernels.
Since their tastes change so often, you can season the rice any way they like and still have them enjoy their meal. Introduce them to a variety of rice from a young age, so they can choose their favorite or continue enjoying several varieties into adulthood.
Adults are familiar with rice being part of several cultures’ diets, most common certainly is Chinese food. However, this can be translated into an American diet as well, when you cook chicken, set it on top of rice and pour cream of mushroom soup over it. Kids enjoy what is served with love and fun.
Rice makes that easy, and gives them health benefits they don’t even think about. When you’re adding rice into your child’s diet, you’re giving them the internal tools they need to stay healthy and fight off sickness more efficiently.
There is no difference between the health benefits kids receive from rice and those that adults receive. Their systems may be smaller, but they work on the same premise. Natural healthy food should be a foundation of their diet from the very start.
Cooking with Rice
Rice is an extremely versatile food and can be used as a side dish, as a part of the main dish, or even as a dessert. When you include it in the main dish, it can be a base to serve meat on, wrap it in tortillas with meat and cheese, or simply use in a taco casserole.
Side dish capabilities are wonderful because you can season it up to complement your main food focus, serve it beautifully and have it become part of a memorable meal. Whether you put a bay leaf in it or cover it in season salt and butter, it’s a side dish that goes with nearly everything.
Dessert rice is just as fun when you add in a little milk, sugar and butter! Not only will your kids fall in love with it, but you may find yourself making a little late night snack with it.
Keep in mind that both brown and white rice have unique flavor profiles and this makes them easy to cook with. You can decide what flavor your meal needs and then create it with either one.
No matter what choice you make, it’s nice to know you’re giving your family and friends a healthy option. This could change with the dessert option, of course, but for the most part, it’s an easy decision.
Need Ideas for Rice?
We would love to have you read through our tips and contact us with questions. Share your experience with rice, either brown or white, with our experts. We know how to answer, "How healthy is rice?" Depending on what you want to learn, we can point you in the right direction.
You’re welcome to contact us online quickly and easily, so you can move forward with your meal plans for the day. In order to maintain a healthy diet, it’s important to have balance. Rice gives you that balance and does so while tasting good, while improving your body’s health and by helping you feel fuller longer.
Introducing a new food into your routine can be tough if you're out of ideas. Come back to our site often to get great recipes and combinations to share with your family! It's our passion to help you eat healthy, enjoy rice and cook it in a variety of ways. We can't wait to hear what you think!