What Is the Healthiest Type of Rice?
By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD
Rice is a staple food in many countries and provides billions of people around the world with an inexpensive, nutritious source of energy.
There are many varieties of this popular grain that differ in color, flavor and nutritional value.
Some are abundant in nutrients and powerful plant compounds that benefit health, while others have less impressive nutrition profiles.
This article discusses the most nutritious types of rice and why you should choose certain varieties over others.
The following varieties of rice have nutritional characteristics that make them stand out from others.
Brown rice is whole-grain rice that has had the outer protective shell, known as the hull, removed. Unlike white rice, it still contains the bran layer and the germ — which both pack a significant amount of nutrients.
For example, brown rice bran contains the flavonoid antioxidants apigenin, quercetin and luteolin. These compounds play an important role in disease prevention.
Brown rice provides similar numbers of calories and carbs to white rice, which has had the bran and germ removed. However, the brown variety has about three times more fiber and is higher in protein (3).
Both fiber and protein promote feelings of fullness and can help you maintain a healthy weight. What's more, choosing brown over white rice can help regulate blood sugar and insulin, a hormone that supports healthy blood sugar levels (4).
A study in 15 overweight adults demonstrated that those who ate 7 ounces (200 grams) of brown rice for 5 days had significantly lower fasting blood sugar and insulin levels than those who consumed the same amount of white rice.
Additionally, the brown rice group experienced a percentage change in fasting insulin that was 57% lower than the 5-day percentage change observed in the white rice group (5).
As a result, brown rice may be a better choice for those with diabetes. What's more, it's high in magnesium, a mineral that plays an essential role in blood sugar and insulin metabolism (6).
Black (Forbidden) Rice
Black rice varieties, such as Indonesian black rice and Thai jasmine black rice, have a deep black color that often transitions to purple when cooked.
This type is sometimes referred to as forbidden rice, as it's said to have been reserved for royalty in ancient China.
Research shows that black rice has the highest antioxidant activity of all the varieties, making it a nutritious choice (7).
Antioxidants are compounds that protect cells from damage caused by an excess of molecules called free radicals, which contribute to a condition known as oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress has been associated with the progression of chronic conditions, such as heart disease, certain cancers, and mental decline (8).
Black rice is particularly rich in anthocyanins, a group of flavonoid plant pigments that have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Anthocyanins have been shown to have potent anticancer properties as well. Population studies suggest that higher consumption of anthocyanin-rich foods is associated with a lower risk of certain cancers, including colorectal cancer (9).
What's more, in test-tube research, anthocyanins derived from black rice effectively suppressed the growth and spread of human breast cancer cells (10).
Red rice varieties, such as Himalayan red rice and Thai red cargo rice, are deeply pigmented and contain an impressive array of nutrients and beneficial plant compounds.
This type is higher in protein and fiber than white rice varieties, but where it really shines is in its antioxidant content.
Like black rice, it's packed with flavonoid antioxidants, including the anthocyanins apigenin, myricetin, and quercetin.
In fact, research shows that red rice has significantly more potential to fight free radicals and contains higher concentrations of flavonoid antioxidants than brown rice (11).
Though wild rice is technically the seeds of aquatic grasses, it's popularly used like rice in the kitchen.
Additionally, it's been linked to a number of health benefits in animal studies.
For example, rodent studies indicate that replacing white rice with wild rice effectively reduces triglyceride and cholesterol levels, insulin resistance, and oxidative stress — big risk factors for heart disease (15, 16, 17).
Wild rice is a good source of vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, magnesium and manganese. What's more, research shows that its antioxidant activity is up to 30 times greater than that of white rice (18).
Brown, black, red and wild rice are all nutritious options that contain an impressive array of nutrients and disease-fighting plant compounds.
Less Nutritious Varieties
There isn't anything wrong with eating white rice or packaged rice blends in moderation, but they lack the nutritious qualities of the varieties mentioned above.
White rice has had the husk, bran, and germ removed. Though this process extends the shelf life of the final product, the nutrients and beneficial plant compounds found in the bran and germ are lost during processing.
As a result, it contains less fiber, protein, antioxidants, and certain vitamins and minerals than brown rice.
Pre-Made and Packaged Blends
While certain packaged rice blends can make a healthy choice, many others are high in calories, sodium, and unnecessary ingredients.
White rice and packaged rice products are less nutritious than brown, black, red, or wild varieties. Only eat them occasionally and in moderation.
Which Type Should You Choose?
Research shows that consuming whole grains over refined grains improves health.
For example, a study in more than 197,000 people found that replacing 50 grams per day of white rice with the same amount of brown rice was associated with a 16% lower risk of type 2 diabetes (27).
Therefore, choosing whole-grain brown, red, black, or wild rice is an excellent choice for health.
Plus, these varieties are richer in disease-fighting antioxidants. Consuming a diet high in antioxidant-rich foods can benefit health in many ways.
Studies demonstrate that people who consume more dietary antioxidants — such as those in brown, red, black or wild rice — have lower risks of conditions like metabolic syndrome, depression, certain cancers, and heart disease (29, 30, 31, 32).
Though white rice is healthy in moderation, replacing it with whole-grain varieties is sure to provide more nutrients.
If you frequently consume ready-to-eat rice meals or other packaged rice products, try one of the healthier varieties listed above.
Preparing your own rice allows you to determine what ingredients you would like to add or leave out of your recipe. This can drastically cut down on your intake of sodium and other additives like preservatives and added sugars.
Whole-grain brown, red, black or wild rice varieties can make nutritious additions to your diet. Try preparing your own rather than buying pre-made products.
The Bottom Line
Choosing certain rice varieties over others can be a simple way to improve your diet.
Whole-grain rice varieties contain the bran and germ, providing more of specific nutrients like fiber, protein, antioxidants, and certain vitamins and minerals.
Choosing whole-grain over white rice can benefit health in many ways and may even reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
Making a point to choose rice that's higher in protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants over refined products is a smart and easy way to boost health.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
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For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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