Rice is a staple food common in the eastern parts of the world. No meal is complete without a bowl or two of it on the dining table. The Western Hemisphere, however, doesn’t see it as a necessity. Perhaps it’s due to its association with carbohydrates? Maybe, maybe not.
Contrary to popular belief, rice isn’t just the carb show that people make it out to be. In fact, it’s rich in other things, namely: B-vitamins, zinc, phosphorus, and protein. Yes—you read that right. Whoever told you that rice can’t be healthy is mistaken.
How does rice have protein content, you ask? Allow this entry to give you the answers.
What’s In a Grain? How Protein is Present in Rice
Don’t let naysayers fool you: rice CAN be good for you! Each grain has every nutrient we mentioned earlier. Unrefined rice, in particular, has more protein for every carb content since each grain's bran and germ has a lot of protein per carb.
How much protein does one need everyday? According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it can range from 10 up to 35% of every calorie one consumes. If you’re on the 2, 000 calorie route, you need around 50 to 175 grams of protein to get your needed amount.
To get your recommended daily protein intake from rice, you need to eat a ton of it. Here’s a head’s up, though: white rice has a ton of processed content and has less protein compared to its other counterparts, so please be mindful of the amount you eat. Go for varieties like brown or wild rice to get your daily grainy protein fix without much guilt. We’ll get into these types a little while for some much-need discussion, so stay tuned!
Protein Working Its Magic
It’s an understatement to say that protein’s an important nutrient our bodies need. So whenever you have your daily rice fix, your body will be experiencing what’s about to happen in the next paragraph.
As they digest what we eat, huge protein molecules get deconstructed, leaving small amino acids. These acids then proceed to help build muscle and organ tissue. Amino acids also aid in supporting neurotransmitters and cell walls with boosting neurological functions.
Here’s another benefit of intaking protein: if you’re low on fatty acids or glucose, you can count on protein to be your energy booster. However, do note that this only happens in last-resort situations.
Working Rice into Your Protein Fix
One thing to remember about using rice as a protein source is that it doesn’t have all the content you need for your daily intake. We suggest incorporating other protein-rich foods into your meals throughout your day. This way your amino acid supply won’t come up short.
Rice Varieties with Protein Content
If you’re thinking of reworking your usual diet, why not add rice into the picture? We recommend these protein-rich types to get you started on your journey to better health.
1. Wild Rice
First on the list is this interesting-looking grain that may catch your attention. Don’t let its look fool you—wild rice is way more appetizing than advertised.
This protein-rich grain has a nutty and smokey taste that’ll satisfy adventurous taste buds. Not only that, but it also has rich manganese content while being low on sodium. You can find a legit sack of this wholesome grain in specialty stores since the ones sold in supermarkets aren’t exactly the real deal.
If you’re having gamey meats or a salad for your meal, this grain is the best option to pair them with or incorporate into. It’s also great for soups too!
2. Brown Rice
This second type’s quite the popular grain among health buffs. If you’re one of those people, we bet you’ve heard about its benefits within your circles.
Brown rice comes in a range of its own varieties, from Basmati to Jasmine. People often eat it as a substitute for white rice due to the latter’s low fiber and protein content. If you like your grains light and nutty, this variant’s right up your alley! You won’t have a hard time looking for this one since most stores have them on-hand most of the time.
3. Black Rice
At this point, you’ve already realized that rice comes in different colors. This third type is no exception.
Before you get all judgmental, don’t let black rice’s signature color turn you off. This chewy grain has a naturally sweet and nutty that’s appealed to many taste buds around the globe.
Black rice packs on the healthy goodness as well. Aside from its 9 grams of protein, it has antioxidants in its bran layers, holding and fighting off free radicals daring to threaten one’s cells. You can get this grain in any Asian market or healthy food stores.
4. Cahokia Rice
The last (but definitely not the least) variety on the list is this little-known grain that’s just as nutritious as the previous entries. Say hello to Cahokia rice!
Cahokia rice got its name as a nod to the Cahokia natives who were the pioneer farmers of this grain in originator Blake Geard’s home state of Illinois. This variant is a result of a collaboration between Gerard and Louisiana State University scientists.
If you’re looking for a reason to get into the Cahokia rice train, we’ll give you one: it has a pretty short cooking time and doesn’t need a ton of water heat to get it working on the stove. It’s a pretty versatile type too, pairing well with salads and acts as a good base for desserts. You can get it in either brown or white, depending on your preference.
And there you have it! We hope we’ve covered all the basics and answered your questions regarding rice as a protein source. Don’t feel too guilty about eating a bowl or two in moderation; after all, you’re only looking out for your health here.