Across cultures, countries and cuisines, one key ingredient unites so many dishes. It’s rice, of course. For example, Spain has paella and Japan has sushi. China has fried egg rice, Thailand has sticky rice, and India has biryani. The examples could be continued indefinitely. But while rice is the basis of so many delicious dishes, does this common ingredient actually have any benefits of its own? Here we take a closer look at the nutritional value of rice, but also at the many different varieties that are on the market today. And just in case your stomach is growling, we’ve included some delicious rice-based recipes.
what is rice
Most of us buy, cook and eat it frequently, but what exactly is rice? It is a starchy cereal grain that comes from a species of grass called Oryza sativa (in the scientific world, rice is called rice Oryza).
Because rice is semi-aquatic, it is grown underwater in terraces or paddy fields, often stacked on top of each other. For example, in China, the world’s largest rice producer, the scenic rice terraces of Honghe Hani tower over more than 160 square kilometers.
But while it was probably first grown in China (archaeologists uncovered evidence of people growing rice from the Shangshan Neolithic site 10,000 years ago). Today it is eaten on every continent. It also has a rich history in Africa, Southeast Asia and India, and today more than 3.5 billion people depend on it as a staple food.
What are the benefits of rice?
While there are many different types and forms of rice, and some have more nutrients than others, rice’s greatest benefit is its carbohydrate content. A 100-gram serving of long-grain white rice contains about 28 grams of carbohydrates.
Many fad diets restrict or ban carbohydrates, but they are actually vital nutrients for our health. On the one hand, they provide us with energy because the body breaks them down into simple sugars, which become glucose. “Glucose drives your activities,” he notes Mayo Clinic. “Whether jogging or just breathing and thinking. Excess glucose is stored in the liver, muscles, and other cells for later use. Or excess glucose is converted to fat.”
High-fiber carbohydrates are also important for digestive health and may even reduce the risk of certain diseases, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. According to dietary guidelines for Americans, carbohydrates, ideally from whole grains (like rice) and fruits and vegetables, should make up between 45 and 65 percent of total calories each day.
What different types of rice are there?
There are thousands and thousands of different types of rice in the world. But here we’ve focused on a small handful of the most common types you’ll find in grocery store aisles and on restaurant menus today.
1 white rice
White rice refers to rice that has the husk, bran, and germ removed. Because of this, white rice is not as nutritious as some other varieties on the market (the germ is the kernel of the rice, which is the nutrient-dense part). Despite this, it’s still a good source of energy, and you can buy white rice that has added vitamins and iron, making it more nutritious. It’s quick and easy to cook with.
2 Brown rice
Unlike white rice, brown rice has not had its bran or nutrient-rich germ removed, meaning it is a whole grain. It’s a source of fiber and protein, and contains an array of nutrients like thiamine, niacin, iron, magnesium, zinc, manganese, and selenium. It’s also a good source of antioxidants. The only catch is that it takes a little longer to cook than white rice. The texture is also a little chewy and the flavor is earthier.
3 sushi rice
Of course, if you want to prepare sushi, you need sushi rice. But first you need Japanese rice, which is short-grain rice grown in Japan. It is stickier than other types of rice and also slightly sweeter. To make sushi rice, Japanese rice is boiled and combined with ingredients like rice vinegar. After that, it is cooled before being used in sushi recipes.
4 Wild Rice
Wild rice really shouldn’t be on this list. And that’s because wild rice isn’t actually rice at all. But because it behaves like rice, looks like rice and tastes similar, we keep it to ourselves. Wild rice is the seed of an aquatic grass that often grows in freshwater swamps, rivers, and the lakes of North America (hence why it’s called wild). It is a source of protein, carbohydrates, fiber and nutrients such as folic acid, magnesium, zinc and manganese. In terms of flavor, it’s similar to brown rice but much stronger. The texture is also a bit tougher.
5 basmati rice
If you go to an Indian restaurant, you will probably find basmati rice on the menu. It is commonly served with curry and other Indian dishes (due to its Himalayan origins) and can be white or brown. It’s long-grain, flavorful and light and fluffy when cooked. Like all rice varieties, it is a good source of carbohydrates, but it also contains nutrients such as selenium, folic acid, thiamine and iron.
6 jasmine rice
Jasmine rice is often white, but can also be found in brown, red, black, purple, and red varieties. It’s incredibly popular in Southeast Asia, where most of it is produced. long-grained, slightly sticky after cooking and fragrant nutty taste. (Some say it tastes a lot like popcorn!) It’s usually served with Thai curries like panang and massaman.
to make recipes with rice
By now you’re probably a little hungry. And the good news is, if you’re craving delicious rice-based dishes, we’ve got the inspiration for you. Here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy the classic grain.
1 Fried garden rice
When you’re faced with a fridge full of ingredients on the turn and you’re not sure what to make, this is a delicious way to use some veggies. You need to cook the brown rice ahead of time to get the right texture and then heat everything together in a large skillet. Simple and delicious.
2 Pomegranate Pineapple Breakfast Rice Pudding
Cooked too much rice? Don’t throw it away. Place in the fridge and save for a nutritious, delicious rice pudding breakfast. This recipe calls for fragrant jasmine rice paired with coconut milk, fruits and agave nectar.
3 Pink rice sushi roll with creamy ginger tamari sauce
Gather your friends, it’s time for sushi night. You’ll need sushi rice, of course, which you can make yourself or buy at the store. And the bright pink color comes from beets!
4 Spinach, chickpeas and lemon pilaf
If you’re running out of lunch ideas, shake things up by making a pot of delicious, flavorful pilaf. Combine with spices, onions, chickpeas and spinach for a nutritious, delicious, quick and easy meal.
Maya A Howard
5 Wild Rice Mushroom Soup
The earthy flavors of wild rice and mushrooms complement each other perfectly. For a hearty, warming, and creamy soup, combine with sweet carrots, celery, leeks, herbs, and garlic.