What Types of Rice are Best for Heart Health?

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Pro May 27, 2013
  • Rice is frequently consumed in combination with other foods, such as vegetables, beans, and meat. It is a low cost food, so it allows you to stretch your food budget.

     

    There are many varieties of rice, many of which you are probably not familiar with, such as Arborio, black, red, jasmine, basmati, and then the more common wild, brown, and white.

     

    All rice provides a variety of nutrients, including carbohydrates and protein. Plus, rice is gluten free. A one cup serving of wild rice even contains 156 mg of omega 3 fatty acids to help promote heart health and lower cholesterol.

     

    The two most common include white rice and brow rice, so let’s by compare these two options.

     

    White Rice vs. Brown Rice

     

    White rice is a refined grain and comes in short and long grain varieties. Short grain tends to be soft and sticky, making it commonly used for dishes like paella and risotto. Long grain rice cooks with the rice grains separated due to its lower level of starch. This makes it frequently used in pilafs and dishes with sauce.

     

    In the United States, white rice is enriched with thiamin, niacin, folic acid, and iron. Try to avoid rinsing rice prior to cooking so the nutrients are not washed away.

     

    Brown rice is a whole grain, meaning it contains the germ and bran parts of the grain. This means it is naturally higher in nutrients because “parts” have not been removed. Compared to white rice, brown rice provides more magnesium, other minerals, and fiber. One cup of white long grain rice contains only one gram of fiber. A one cup serving of brown rice provides four grams of fiber.  Your daily goal is to consume 25-35 grams of fiber. A diet high in fiber promotes a lower cholesterol and heart health. Brown rice is much heartier than white rice, so it does take longer to cook.

     

    Just because brown rice is more nutrient dense that white rice, doesn’t mean white rice cannot be a part of a heart healthy diet. The fortification of white rice in the U.S. does add back in valuable nutrients which are needed for overall health.

     

    For guidance on how to promote lower cholesterol levels, sign up for the free e-course “How to Lower Cholesterol in 8 Simple Steps” at http://lowercholesterolwithlisa.com.