Have you ever taken a stroll down the rice aisle at your supermarket? We agree, it can be overwhelming.
Between white rice, brown rice, wild rice and even the cauliflower “rice” you make at home – it can be tough to decide which grain works best with which dish.
Here’s our quick guide to help you answer all your rice-related questions…
The white rice varieties.
White rice has its husk, bran and germ removed. This alters its flavour, texture and appearance – and usually its as well! This is why we often substitute it in meals for more nutritious sources of carbohydrates like cauliflower or quinoa.
On the side, one of Keys2words’s in-house nutritionists says, “When white rice is milled it also removes most of the phytic acid (a substance which prevents the body from absorbing minerals from other foods). This can make it easier to digest, and ensures we can absorb more of the nutrients it does contain.”
- Classic white rice: White, bright and shiny, but as above, also one of the least nutritional options!
- Basmati rice: This variety contains more amylose starch than most rices. Amylose is digested more slowly and therefore less likely to affect blood sugar levels if that’s a concern for you.
- Jasmine rice: Often accompanying traditional Thai dishes, steamed jasmine rice is fluffy and fragrant, but not the most nutrient-dense option. While it contains trace amounts of niacin, thiamine and iron, it’s light on fibre.
- Arborio rice: The basis of traditional risottos, this rice absorbs its weight in liquid and gives the Italian classic its signature creamy texture. While it can be eaten on occasion, we prefer more nutrient-dense food sources.
The types of whole grain rice.
Whole grain rices are generally higher in fibre and are slower to digest, but are they as healthy as they’re made out to be?
- Brown rice: Despite its rustic texture, brown rice can generally be substituted for white varieties. “The high fibre content makes brown rice better than white for controlling blood sugar levels,” our nutritionist says. “However, it also contains high levels of phytic acid. This can prevent us from absorbing minerals in particular iron, zinc and calcium.”
- Black rice: Black rice contains (antioxidants) with nutritional attributes similar to those found in blueberries and blackberries. With an almost fruity flavour, it makes a great base for cold rice salads. Just don’t forget to pair it with some protein and fill up on good fats first.
- Red rice: Red rice is popular in traditional Chinese food and has also been found to improve . It has a nice nutty flavour and a texture perfect for pilafs.
- Wild rice: Actually an aquatic grass and not a grain, wild rice is easy to cook (although it does take a bit more time than white rice). While all rice is gluten-free this version may suit those looking to cut grains from their diet.
Which rice is nice?
Our preference is generally for whole grains, but when it comes to rice, you’re better off with Basmati. Mild in flavour and phytic-acid free, it’s easy to cook with and goes beautifully with Sarah’s Vietnamese Chicken Curry.
Alternatively, save yourself the debate and opt for cauliflower rice. Tasty, filling and healthy, it could be the best “rice” of all.
We originally published this post in February 2016. We updated it in August 2017.