Nearly 7,000 years ago, rice – a seed of the grass species Oryza Sativa – had started to become a prominent crop among humankind.
The food became the subject of ceremonies and rituals, and became a mainstay in many prominent cultures. Today, it has the third-highest production among agricultural products, and it provides about one-fifth of the daily caloric intake of human beings.
With over 40,000 different varieties, rice presents a plethora of possibilities. Since all forms of rice – particularly brown and wild – are nutrient-dense, they fit into a healthful diet, says Lauren Blake, nutritionist with The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
A study published last year in the Food and Nutrition Sciences journal suggested that individuals who eat rice tend to also have a healthier nutrition profile.
“Our results show that adults who eat rice had diets more consistent with what is recommended in the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, and they showed higher amounts of potassium, magnesium, iron, folate and fiber while eating less saturated fat and added sugars,” lead author Theresa Nicklas writes.
Brown and wild rice are rich in complex carbohydrates and offer a source of high-quality protein, providing 2-5 percent of the daily value per half-cup serving, Blake says. Wild rice contains slightly more protein. Rice is also a source of antioxidant flavonoids – the darker the color, the more it contains.
Black rice contains high amounts of antioxidant anthocyanins, which can help protect the body against certain cancers and chronic diseases. Anthocyanin is the same compound that gives blueberries and blackberries their color and high antioxidant levels.
Brown rice certainly seems to be favored by modern dieticians over white. A few years ago, a study published in the British Medical Journal suggested that white rice can increase the risk of diabetes type 2 by up to 55 percent.
Brown rice is typically recommended as a better choice, Blake says, because it is 100 percent whole grain and is a better source of fiber, protein and selenium.
Enriched long-grain white rice is relatively low in calories, Blake says. The food provides approximately 90 to 108 calories per half-cup serving, and contains 13 essential vitamins and minerals, including niacin, thiamin and folic acid.
All of this information helps to feed the information-based narrative that rice, in many different shapes and forms, can be wonderful for you.
Making a Meal
Incorporating rice into the regular dinner cycle is quite easy.
“Rice is very versatile and pairs nicely with many foods,” Blake says.
One of the easiest ways to incorporate rice into a healthful diet is to serve it alongside lean meat protein or fish accompanied by a large quantity of non-starchy vegetables.
Rice and beans are a classic and delicious pairing, and together they create a complete protein. Start with a base of rice and beans and top with leafy greens, tomato, onion, bell peppers, cilantro and avocado.
David Allen is a contributing writer. Feedback welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.