What Type of Rice is Healthiest?

Short-grain, long-grain, basmati, brown. What are the nutritional differences between all the different types of rice?

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
4-minute read
Episode #90

A Little Bit of White Rice Won’t Hurt You

As I mentioned above, although brown rice is more nutritious than white rice and has a lower glycemic load, it’s also heavier and chewier and that may not always be what you want. Here’s how I look at it: The more rice you eat, the more benefit you’ll get from eating brown rice, at least most of the time. But if you only eat rice occasionally or in small quantities, the nutritional differences between white and brown rice just aren’t big enough to worry about.

Is Wild Rice Healthy?

If you’re looking for a more nutritious kind of rice, you might want to consider adding wild rice to the mix once in a while. I didn’t mention it before because, although it’s a close botanical relative of rice (both are types of grasses), wild rice is really a different thing altogether. It can be a bit of an acquired taste. (Then again, that’s how a lot of people feel about brown rice!) The grains have a chewy outer sheath with a tender inner grain that has a slightly vegetal taste. To me, it’s sort of half-way between a starch and a vegetable

The Nutrients in Wild Rice

Compared to brown rice, wild rice is higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates—that means it has a significantly lower glycemic load. It’s also higher in vitamin A and folic acid but not quite as high in minerals. And even though it’s quite low in total fat, wild rice is also a decent source of omega-3s, and has a great omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, the importance of which I discussed in this recent article.

For those who like to mix things up a bit, wild rice is an interesting and nutritious alternative to regular rice. But instead of just substituting it for regular rice, I suggest you try it in a recipe that’s been specifically developed to make the most of its unique qualities. Here’s a link to some recipes featuring wild rice to get you started.

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Have a great week and remember to eat something good for me!


Beyond Uncle Ben’s: A Rice Primer (Chow)

Wild rice recipes (Epicurious.com)

Rice image from Shutterstock



About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.