Are you wondering is rice healthy? You are not the only one. Keep reading to learn more.
With all of the health information in the media, many people are becoming confused as to what is healthy. One of the most confusing topics is rice. Is rice healthy? What is the healthiest type of rice? Why? These are questions that you will hopefully have answers to at the end of this article.
How Much Rice Do You Eat?
Is rice healthy? This is one of our most common questions that people ask. Unfortunately, it is hard to give a definitive answer because it really depends. Certain countries like China are the biggest consumers of rice and have been eating rice at a high level for thousands of years. Rice is a food that many people consume in high quantities.(2) Most people consume more rice than they even realize. This is because there are so many sources of rice that are hidden in foods. Some of these sources are:
- Rice Flours
- Rice Crackers
- Rice Cereal
- Rice Milk
- Rice Syrup
It is important to note that rice milk is so high in inorganic arsenic that the UK Food Standards Agency has stated that children under the age of four-and-a-half should not drink rice milk.(10) However, you probably will not be able to locate this advice on product packaging.
Another factor to remember is portion control. This is important because it’s relatively easy to eat too much rice. No matter what kind of rice you are consuming, this is a crucial issue. If you don’t control your portion of rice, you will significantly boost your calories. The standard serving size for brown rice is approximately 1 cup. This is important to keep in mind because if you cover your entire plate full of rice you could be consuming more than 450 calories in rice alone.(8) Next we will discuss white rice vs brown rice.
White Rice VS Brown Rice
So which is better for you? White rice or brown rice? The truth is there are good and bad points to both types of rice. White rice is stripped of bran and germ. Therefore, it lacks vitamins and minerals. It also has a glycemic index (G.I.) of 64. Glycemic index refers to how rapidly it is converted to sugar. This is what spikes insulin. Therefore, the higher the number, the quicker it will spike insulin.
Brown rice contains vitamins and minerals. In addition it contains fiber and is rich in bran. It has a G.I. index of 55. However, it is also high in arsenic. There are many health conditions that arsenic is linked to.
I will let you know what the verdict is on the best type of rice at the end of the article.
We will discuss the problems with arsenic in the next section.
The Problems and Solutions With Arsenic
One of the largest problems is that rice contains arsenic. We all know that arsenic is one of the most toxic substances in existence. However, did you know that arsenic is naturally present in the environment? I’m sure you’re wondering how can it be that it is natural to the environment and toxic? There are a couple reasons for that.
Humans have made this a more serious issue because we add more arsenic to the soil through pesticides. In addition, there are two different types of arsenic. (1) The two types are organic and inorganic. Organic arsenic is found in mostly plants and animals. Inorganic arsenic is found in rocks, soil, and water. Inorganic is the more dangerous of the two types of arsenic. Unfortunately, arsenic is found in small amounts in all food and beverages. However, the largest food source of inorganic arsenic is rice.(2) That’s right. Rice is the highest source of the most dangerous form of arsenic.
There are many health effects that arsenic can induce. However, toxic symptoms of dietary arsenic tend to develop over time. Long-term ingestion may increase the risk of many health problems, including cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and decreased intelligence.(4) In addition, it can cause impaired concentration, learning and memory.(5) These cases are even more serious in children because of their smaller body size. We will discuss this more in detail in the next section.
So now let’s talk about why that is true and what we can do about it. Why is brown rice high in arsenic? It’s because the arsenic is stored in the bran. As you will remember from earlier in this article, brown rice contains the bran and germ. Now you are probably wondering what we can do to decrease the arsenic content. Well there are a few things that we can do:
- Wash It
- Cook It In Excess Water
- Basamati Or Jasmine
- Sprouted Or Germinated
Washing and cooking rice in excess water helps to decrease the arsenic content by 50-60%. (3) The best options for rice are basamati and jasmine. Rice also contains phytic acid. This is a problem because phytic acid blocks nutrients. However, if you get sprouted and germinated versions this is not an issue. Next we will discuss the health issues more in detail.
Diseases and Conditions
As we stated earlier, there are several health conditions which may be connected to arsenic. Diabetes is a condition that comes with consuming too much rice. There are 350,000 individuals that have diabetes. In addition, white rice ranks higher on the glycemic index, which means it can cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels.
Studies have shown that high consumption of white rice has been linked to increased risk of diabetes in both Asia and the United States(6). These studies also concluded that the risk of diabetes rises by about 10% with each serving per day of white rice.(6) In another study, 64,227 Chinese women found that those who consumed 300 grams of rice per day had a 1.8 fold greater risk of becoming diabetic than those who consumed 200 grams per day (7).
Additionally, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has declared it as cancer causing. One of the major goals of the agency is to identify causes of cancer. IARC classifies arsenic as “carcinogenic to humans.”(11) This is based on sufficient evidence in humans that these compounds can cause:
- Lung Cancer
- Bladder Cancer
- Skin Cancer
IARC also notes links in some studies to:
- Kidney Cancer
- Liver Cancer
- Prostate Cancer (11)
Other health issues have been linked as well. Some of them are:
- Breathing in high levels of arsenic can produce a sore throat and irritated lungs.
- Swallowing high levels of arsenic can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle weakness and skin rashes. (11)
- Exposure to high enough amounts of arsenic can be fatal.
- Exposure to lower levels of arsenic over longer periods of time can cause skin changes, liver and kidney damage.
- A shortage of red and white blood cells, which can lead to fatigue and an increased risk of infections.
Is Rice Healthy – The Verdict
One of the most popular foods in the world is rice. There are two basic types of rice. White rice is the most commonly eaten type. However, brown rice is considered the healthier alternative. You should follow the tips in this article so that you can decrease your consumption of arsenic.
The verdict is that the best rice to eat is brown rice that is sprouted and organic. If you can’t find it at your local grocery stores, I included a link down below as to where you can find good quality rice that offer the best results for improving your health. It is not loaded with arsenic and the good news is that according to ancient Chinese culture, it is considered a food that actually improves your energy system in your body. Hopefully, this article has answered all of your questions about whether or not rice is healthy. Go ahead. Grab a spoon. Just make sure it’s organic, washed, and cooked with excess water.