HFG guide to rice

Reviewed by our expert panel
HFG guide to rice

Senior nutritionist Rose Carr tells us how to select a top grain.

Rice is an important cereal grain which provides carbohydrate and energy to a significant portion of the world’s population. After maize, rice is the world’s second most abundant crop.

Brown rice is the most nutritious rice as it keeps the bran layers and therefore the fibre, B vitamins and minerals – nutrients which end up lost when rice is milled to become white rice.

The different varieties of white rice don’t vary greatly in their nutrition but are suited to different uses. Medium or short-grain rice plumps up when cooked and the grains tend to stick together (for example, sushi rice or arborio rice for risotto), whereas long-grain rice (such as jasmine or basmati) is firmer and fluffier when cooked and the grains remain separate.

Parboiled rice is steamed before the inedible husk is removed, so some of the B vitamins and the oil are absorbed into the grain. If parboiled rice is then milled to become white rice, it retains more nutrients than standard white rice, but not as many as standard brown rice. Being pre-steamed, parboiled rice cooks quickly and doesn’t stick together.

Rice is mainly carbohydrate with a small amount of protein. It is low in fat and has a little fibre. Brown rice is higher in fibre and also contains useful amounts of B vitamins.

Pre-steamed rice that cooks in just a minute or two in the microwave or wok is super-convenient. These have a small amount of oil and salt added, so they will have a little more fat, energy and sodium than standard boiled rice, but the difference tends to be small.

Flavoured varieties have a wide range of different ingredients which can include vegetables, cream, nuts, salt and other seasonings. As these are a meal base, the nutrition of the overall meal will depend on what you serve them with.

Did you know?

  • ‘Wild rice’ is not rice – it’s the seed of a grass.
  • Glutinous rice, used in Asian cuisine, is a term used to indicate the rice is gluey or sticky. It has nothing to do with gluten. All rice is gluten-free.

1 : 3 ratio

As a rule of thumb, 1 cup uncooked rice produces about 3 cups cooked rice.

First published: Jul 2010


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