Rice provides 20 percent of the world's dietary energy and is the main staple food for over half of the world's population. Rice is a rich source of complex carbohydrates, which give energy to the body when transformed into glucose, and is also highly digestible. Rice is gluten free, very low in fat, and contains no trans fats, saturated fats, sodium or cholesterol. Rice also provides a wide range of micronutrients, vitamins and minerals.
The precise quantity and quality of the nutritional content of rice varies according to the variety of grain and whether it has been milled or parboiled. Brown rice usually contains higher levels of vitamins and minerals and is a source of fibre. Parboiling, which is necessary to make easy-cook rice, cause the transfer of some water soluble micronutrients from the husk to the endosperm . The table below provides an indication of the nutritional value of different types of rice.
|Long Grain Rice||PROT||FAT||CHO||AOACFIB|
|White, easy cook||7.0||1.1||82.3||1.7|
|Thai Fragrant Rice|
|White. easy cook||8.1||0.4||83.8||1.4|
Rice is simple to prepare but for the best results attention should be paid to the variety being cooked. Each rice variety has slightly different cooking times but the following quick tips give you an overall guide:
Parboiled/Easy Cook/Precooked rice:
Add rice to double the amount of boiling water and stir. Cover, reduce to medium heat and cook for 15-20 minutes. Once cooked, remove from heat, let stand for 5 minutes, fluff with a fork and serve.
Whole grain/brown rice:
Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add rice and cook for 25-30 minutes. Drain the rice, return to the pot and cover â€“ let stand for 10 minutes then fluff with a fork and serve.
Coeliac disease is a permanent intolerance to gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, spelt, kamut, barley and rye. However, gluten isnâ€™t naturally present in rice, meaning rice can be an essential part of a diet for those with coeliac disease. It is always best to check the labels of packaged rice though, as the manufacturer could have included gluten in their rice. Although several gluten-free products have been created for this type of intolerance, rice continues to be a key staple for those with coeliac disease.
For people with diabetes, ensuring the right balance of foods is particularly important. This includes a careful choice of the amount and type of carbohydrates which directly affect blood glucose levels and need to be balanced with activity levels and insulin dose. For example, a larger serving (150 g cooked weight) of boiled rice provides 210-250 calories and a small serving (100g cooked weight) provides approximately 140- 60 calories. By contrast a typical takeaway portion of fried rice is 300g providing around 560 calories, so itâ€™s important to pay attention to both the quantity and type of rice consumed.
As a general rule (International Diabetes Foundation Guidebook 2014), consumers with diabetes are recommended to choose wholegrain (brown) rice which on average has a lower GI.
There are two main types of starch present in rice â€“ amylose and amylopectin. Rice varieties with a high amylopectin content, such as Thai glutinous rice are associated with a higher GI whereas basmati rice, particularly wholegrain Basmati rice, tends to have a lower GI score because it contains more amylose which is digested more slowly.