You might be wondering, is rice good for you? If you’re trying to lose weight the answer might surprise you, as certain types of rice are healthier for you than others.

Learning more about this popular grain can help you decide whether or not to add rice to your meal plans.

Like many other foods, there's a lot of information — and misinformation — out there.

We're here to bust the myths and deliver the facts on rice!

What Are the Different Parts of a Rice Grain?

Numerous types of rice are available to choose from. Some have the outer bran layer removed during processing, which negatively affects the nutritional content of the rice.

The husk is the outermost layer, followed by the bran and endosperm, which is the middle and largest part of a rice grain.

Inside the endosperm is the germ of the rice, which makes up a tiny portion of the innermost part of the grain.

The content of each part of a rice grain includes:

  • Husk: the non-edible outermost layer
  • Bran: encases the endosperm and is rich in fiber, antioxidants, and minerals
  • Endosperm: the middle part of a rice grain that's rich in carbohydrates and contains a small amount of protein
  • Germ: the small core of rice that contains carbohydrates, protein, fat, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants

Rice that still contains the bran layer is healthier than highly processed rice containing just the endosperm and germ.

Why? The bran layer is fiber-rich and loaded with other essential nutrients.

Is Rice Good for You? Which Types Are Best?

Healthy rice still has its bran intact and is minimally processed during manufacturing.

Examples of healthy types of rice to consider eating include:

Brown Rice

Brown rice is loaded with fiber, antioxidants, other vitamins, and minerals.

Brown rice contains more protein than white rice and other refined grains.

The nutritional profile of 1 cup of cooked brown rice includes:

  • Calories: 216
  • Total fat: 1 gram
  • Total carbohydrates: 44 grams
  • Dietary fiber: 3 grams
  • Protein: 5 grams

Wild Rice

Like brown rice, wild rice is a nutritious whole grain that’s minimally processed.

It’s rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.

Wild rice keeps you full for long time periods and offers numerous health benefits.

It’s lower in calories than brown rice and is a good source of protein.

The nutritional breakdown of 1 cup of cooked wild rice is:

  • Calories: 166
  • Total fat: 1 gram
  • Total carbohydrates: 35 grams
  • Dietary fiber: 3 grams
  • Protein: 6 grams

Red Rice

Red rice is also higher in fiber and protein than white rice and is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

Flavonoids in red rice can decrease inflammation in your body and reduce the risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions.

The nutritional content of 1 cup of cooked red rice is:

  • Calories: 208
  • Total fat: 1 gram
  • Total carbohydrates: 43 grams
  • Dietary fiber: 1 gram
  • Protein: 3 grams

Black Rice

Black rice is loaded with essential nutrients, including those with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Black rice has a deep black color that often looks purple after you cook it.

Anthocyanins sourced from black rice have anti-diabetic and anti-cancer properties.

The nutritional breakdown of black rice is:

  • Calories: 160
  • Total fat: 1 gram
  • Total carbohydrates: 34 grams
  • Dietary fiber: 2 grams
  • Protein: 5 grams

Any whole-grain rice is rich in minerals and nutrients like selenium, vitamin B6, phosphorous, magnesium, and manganese.

While the nutritional content above is for 1 cup of cooked rice, you might choose a serving size of just 1/2 cup instead, especially if your goal is weight loss.

Is Rice Fattening or Weight-Loss Friendly?

If you're overweight or obese, you might be wondering if rice is weight-loss friendly.

Adding fiber-rich “good” rice to healthy meal plans, in the right amounts, can help you reach weight loss goals with ease.

For example, filling your plate one-fourth full with whole-grain rice or other starches can keep you full and give you much-needed energy during weight loss.

However, rice isn't a low-calorie food and it's rich in carbohydrates, so don't overdo it.

Balance each plate of food by filling it half-full of non-starchy vegetables (leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, etc.).

Fill one-fourth of each plate with protein foods like chicken, turkey, fish, seafood, or very lean organic meats.

The most important part of weight loss is burning more calories than you consume each day.

For many men, that means eating about 1,500-1,800 calories daily but everybody is different.

Space out meals and snacks evenly throughout the day and drink water before meals to help boost satiety.

In addition to choosing brown, red, black, or wild whole-grain rice, consider quinoa, oatmeal, whole-grain pasta, barley, and other whole grains.

Steer clear of white rice, white bread, regular pasta, and other refined grains containing less fiber and few essential nutrients.

What Are Additional Benefits of Whole-Grain Rice?

In addition to enhancing weight loss when used in place of white rice and other refined grains, whole-grain rice can help you reap numerous other health benefits.

Examples include:

A Lower Risk of Chronic Diseases

Choosing whole grains in place of refined grains can reduce your risk of chronic diseases.

Studies show that eating whole grains helps lower your risk of heart disease, respiratory diseases, diabetes, cancer, all-cause mortality, and infectious diseases.

One reason is because of the higher fiber and antioxidant content of whole grains.

Reduced Blood Cholesterol

Fiber found in whole grains is known to reduce high cholesterol levels.

Therefore, switching from refined grains to whole-grain rice can lower your risk of having a heart attack, stroke, and heart disease.

Men should aim for at least 30-38 grams of fiber daily, depending on their age.

Other fiber-rich options include fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

Ask your doctor about taking a fiber supplement if you struggle to meet daily fiber needs.

Long-Lasting Energy

Whole-grain rice and other starches are complex carbohydrates, which take longer to digest than simple carbohydrates.

Adding brown, wild, red, or black rice to your meal plan is an excellent way to achieve high energy levels for several hours.

Pair complex carbohydrates with protein-rich foods and nutritious fats.

In addition to whole grains, other nutritious starchy foods include corn, sweet potatoes, green peas, chickpeas, lentils, black beans, pinto beans, and other dried beans.

Improved Workouts

Adding whole-grain rice to your meal plan can enhance your workouts, mainly due to long-lasting energy and stored carbohydrates in your muscles.

Eat foods rich in complex carbohydrates before workouts to keep energy levels high, and after workouts with protein to increase muscle building and recovery.

Better Blood Sugar Control

Studies show that consuming fiber-rich whole grains, including the healthy types of rice, helps prevent type 2 diabetes and promotes better blood sugar control.

If you're at risk of diabetes or you have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, control your total calorie and carbohydrate intake, and lose weight if you're classified as overweight or obese.

Boost your intake of water, protein, and non-starchy vegetables.

Aim to eat fewer calories, or burn extra calories by increasing physical activity.

A Stronger Immune System

Adding whole grains to your daily meal plan can optimize immunity by helping you maintain a healthy digestive tract and reducing inflammation.

A healthy gut is linked with better psychological health and well-being, including improvements in anxiety and depression.

Eating a balanced diet rich in whole grains and other sources of fiber and prebiotics can keep your gut healthy to maximize overall health and wellness.

A Better Overall Quality of Life

Replacing added sugars and refined grains with brown rice and other whole grains is one of the best ways to optimize your overall quality of life, help you look and feel your best, boost your mood, and maximize your life expectancy.

Ways to Incorporate Whole-Grain Rice Into Your Diet

Ready to begin planning healthy meals that include whole-grain rice or other healthy whole grains like quinoa, oatmeal, whole-grain pasta, and barley?

The following meal ideas can get you headed in the right direction if your goal is weight loss, healthy weight maintenance, fat loss, or muscle gains:

Rice and Beans

Eating legumes, such as pinto beans, black beans, red beans, or chickpeas, with whole-grain rice adds extra fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals to your meal.

It also helps boost satiety for several hours.

Combine these foods with olive oil and your favorite seasonings.

Eat rice and beans with non-starchy vegetables plus lean beef, chicken, fish, or seafood to balance out healthy meal plans!

Stir Fry

Serving stir fry is an excellent way to add whole-grains to any healthy meal plan.

Simply saute veggies with chicken breast or steak and serve it over a bed of whole-grains.

Try a sugar-free stir fry recipe containing the following ingredients:

  • Low-sodium soy sauce
  • Chicken broth (choose low sodium as needed)
  • Pineapple juice
  • Tomato paste
  • Crushed garlic
  • Ginger
  • Brown rice
  • Mixed veggies
  • Chicken
  • Rice bran oil

Mix all of the ingredients in recommended amounts according to these recipe instructions and enjoy!

Soups

Add whole-grains to just about any type of soup to make it a satiating, energizing meal.

Add whole grains plus chicken, shrimp, or steak to a broth-based soup with veggies.

Top it with avocado slices or reduced-fat cheese if you'd like!

Cold Rice and Bean Salads

If you're in the mood for a nutritious cold meal or side dish, consider a rice and veggie salad with beans.

Eat it as a side dish or a main course, depending on your mood and calorie needs.

Try a nutritious recipe that includes the following ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Cloves
  • Kidney beans
  • Black beans
  • Corn
  • Rice
  • Green onions
  • Red peppers
  • Cilantro
  • Other seasonings

Combine all ingredients according to these recipe instructions and enjoy!

Add grilled chicken to the dish as an optional add-in to boost its protein content.

Sushi

Create homemade sushi rolls by combining avocado pieces, cucumbers, and crab or salmon wrapped in seaweed with brown rice plus sesame seeds.

Doing so is a delicious, nutritious way to add whole-grains to healthy menus, optimize your overall health, and maintain a healthy weight.

Protein Shakes

If you're seeking a simple way to include fiber-rich whole grains in protein-rich meals, consider adding whole grain powder to your next meal replacement smoothie.

Simply add whole-grain protein powder to water or almond milk with fruit and ice, and blend it until smooth.

Add in almond butter or peanut butter if you'd like!

Try a protein shake before or after workouts to maximize muscle building and your energy.

Homemade Veggie Burgers

Try some homemade veggie burgers, which are rich in protein but entirely plant-based.

Find a homemade veggie burger recipe of your choice to get in a daily dose of whole-grains.

Consider this veggie burger recipe, containing the following ingredients:

  • Chickpeas
  • Brown rice
  • Shallots
  • Red onions
  • Garlic
  • Parsley
  • Eggs
  • Olive oil
  • Mustard
  • Red peppers
  • Salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients according to the recipe instructions, wrap your veggie burger in lettuce, and add your favorite garnish!

How to Begin a Healthier Lifestyle

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Erin Coleman
Erin Coleman, B.S. - Nutritional Science, Registered Dietician, Licenced Dietician

Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian with over 15 years of freelance writing experience.

She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in nutritional science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and completed her dietetic internship at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Prior to beginning her career in medical content writing, Erin worked as Health Educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Internal Medicine.

Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s currently working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife, and a Mom to two beautiful children.

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on the question, “Is rice good for you?”