When it comes to cooking meals throughout the week, you’ve likely wondered what to serve as a side.
Sometimes you may opt for a pasta dish, maybe it’s potatoes and of course – white rice is an option.
However, we’ve heard many people question if white rice is healthy. The problem is that the research into whether or not white rice is healthy is debated.
For example, some studies have claimed white rice is associated with the development of type 2 diabetes.
Then there is other research that suggests white rice could lower the spiking of blood sugar after eating the meal.
As you can see, there’s a lot to unpack here, so we’ve written this handy guide that looks to separate the myths and explain everything you need to know.
Read much more below!
Is White Rice Healthy?
Let’s begin this guide by looking at the important points behind white rice.
We’re going to look at some background information and nutrition to find out some of the key points we need to learn.
It’s critical that we know what white rice actually is.
Rice itself is a grain, with brown rice being a wholegrain rice with all of the grain remaining intact. White rice on the other hand is a type of rice with the embryo and bran removed.
This removal takes away most of the fiber, minerals and B vitamins which naturally occurs in rice.
Of course, when someone hears this – they automatically think that this must mean that white rice is not good for you.
However, all it really means is that brown rice is more nutritionally beneficial to you. It does not conclusively prove or suggest that white rice is bad for you.
According to the Department of Agriculture, one cup of cooked white rice has about 200 calories, 44 grams of carbohydrates and 4 grams of protein – with less than 1 gram of fiber.
This is a relatively large number of calories, especially as the DoA suggests that this is the same as 3 slices of white bread.
It is also more calories than the same amount of brown rice would contain.
Of course, nutritionally speaking, and as we have already covered, with the removal of some of the rice’s naturally occurring benefits such as vitamin B, white rice does not have as much nutritional value as brown rice.
This does not necessarily mean that white rice is bad for you though. However, as we established much earlier, there are studies that believe the contrary.
Let’s look at this research that claims there is a link between diabetes and white rice consumption.
White Rice And Diabetes
A study in 2020 suggested that there was a correlation between people who consumed more white rice and an increased risk of diabetes – but this study was inclusive of 21 countries and 130,000 people.
The researchers do explain in the study that while their results have been shared by many other studies of a similar nature, there are other studies that claim the contrary of this.
Indeed, it suggests that in China, high consumption of white rice equates to a lower risk.
White Rice And Fat Burning
One of the claims that has often gets cited is that white rice is fattening, or conversely, white rice can help you lose weight.
Well, if we look at a 2014 study, we see that researchers explain that white rice contains a resistant starch which helps to increase our body’s fat-burning ability.
This is likely due to the fact that this starch cannot be digested by our bodies, so it ferments in the large intestine.
This in turn then triggers a response in our body to burn fat quicker – and as the study suggests, this is particularly true with white rice that has been cooled for 24 hours, as the amount of resistant starch is increased.
This, of course, is at odds with the nutritional information that we know of – in that there are more calories in white rice than there is in brown rice.
So, in theory – these two studies would suggest that the result is counteractive.
Studies such as this one explain that while there is some evidence to suggest that the consumption white rice could potentially assist you with losing weight, there is other research that suggests that white rice can lead to weight gain.
In other words, the research is in direct conflict and it’s pretty difficult to tell whether or not white rice could be helpful if you’re trying to lose weight.
In reality, if this is what you’re hoping to do, you should speak with your doctor about your options. Consider eating a healthy, calorie controlled and balanced diet and get plenty of exercise.
The old trope of “eat less and move more” is often cited as the best possible route to success for weight loss.
White Rice And Arsenic
In some countries, white rice is contaminated with arsenic. As suggested here, the rice plant has a tendency to accumulate more arsenic than some other crops similar to it.
Of course, if the soil it is living in becomes contaminated with more arsenic, this can be problematic.
This might be through water that the soil absorbs, and this will be largely dependent on the geography of the rice plant.
But why exactly could this be an issue anyway?
Well, arsenic is carcinogenic, which means it increases your risk of developing cancers – arsenic has also been linked with heart disease and diabetes.
Of course, these risks lead many people to worry about their diet and whether or not they should eat rice at all.
What Does It All Mean?
As Healthline suggests, despite these studies which we have cited, there should not be anything wrong with enjoying white rice from time to time in a healthy and balanced diet, inclusive of the right amount of exercise.
Of course, the one thing that has been conclusive is that brown rice is more nutritionally beneficial to you than white rice – but even brown rice should be eaten in balance with the rest of your diet.
One critical point to note is that if you do have concerns over diabetes or your weight, you should speak with your doctor for much more tailored advice.
Your doctor should be able to advise you on your diet and potential future in terms of your meal planning.
And that’s everything you need to know about the healthiness of white rice! We hope we have covered everything you needed to know. Good luck!
Frequently Asked Questions
Unless told otherwise by your doctor, eating white rice on a balanced diet is okay.
This is generally contentious but as we have seen, brown rice has more nutritional value than white rice.
Studies are conflicting on this, so be sure to eat a balanced diet!