Rice is one of the oldest crops on the planet. Scientists believe the plant is at least 5,000 years old and is a staple food for more than half of the world's population. The main consumers of rice are the inhabitants of South and East Asia. White grains are more commonly consumed, but brown (unpolished) rice has become increasingly popular in the Western world as a health food in recent years.

General characteristics

Rice is an annual cereal plant popular in Asian countries. It is believed that this is the second most common cereal on the planet (after corn). It is grown on every continent except Antarctica. There are more than 40 thousand varieties of this cereal, but the most commonly used food is a white or unpolished product. Depending on the way the grain is processed, its taste varies. Therefore, different varieties of rice are used for different dishes.

In addition, in cooking it is customary to distinguish rice by the length of the grain. So in Indian and Chinese cuisine, long-grained cereal is more often used, in Western countries they prefer short or round grains.

In addition to the traditional white grain, other types of rice are also used for food: brown, red, purple and even black.

White versus brown

White rice is a refined, bran- and germ-free product. These procedures improve the quality of food, extend the shelf life of grain, and improve its taste. But, as a rule, all this is achieved by reducing the nutritional value of the product.

Brown rice is an intact whole grain rich in fiber, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. In addition, unrefined cereals tend to have a lower glycemic index, which means they are more beneficial for diabetics. But rice bran, among other things, is a source of so-called antinutrients. One of them is phytic acid. In addition, heavy metals can be concentrated in the outer shell of rice (if cereals were grown in contaminated areas).

Useful components


Basically, rice consists of carbohydrates (about 90% of the total mass), which are mainly represented by starches. Starch is the most common form of carbohydrate and is composed of amylose and amylopectin. Both of these substances have different properties that determine the structure and digestibility of the product. Rice rich in amylose (such as basmati) does not stick together after cooking. In addition, amylose slows down the digestion of starch, that is, it contributes to the creation of the so-called resistant starch.

In contrast, rice with a low content of amylose and amylopectin turns into a sticky substance after cooking. Such varieties of the product are suitable for rice puddings, risotto, for cooking Asian dishes. However, such rice is digested faster and causes sharp spikes in blood sugar levels, which is highly undesirable for people with diabetes.


Traditional white rice is low in fiber (no more than 0.3%), which is not the case with brown, which almost 2 percent consists of dietary fiber. Meanwhile, both types of rice can contain resistant starch. In terms of its functions, this substance is largely reminiscent of fiber and also serves as “food” for beneficial intestinal microflora. In the colon, resistant starch helps create short-chain fatty acids (butyrates), which improve gut health and prevent cancer.

Vitamins and minerals

The nutritional value of rice is usually determined by the type of product and the method of preparation. Many vitamins and minerals are concentrated in the bran and germ, which are exclusively found in brown rice.

So, rice contains:

  • manganese is an antioxidant, found in almost any whole grain, important for metabolism, growth and development of the organism;
  • selenium is a mineral that is the main part of selenoproteins responsible for a variety of functions in the body;
  • thiamine (vitamin B1) – necessary for proper metabolism, supports the functionality of the heart, muscles, nervous system;
  • nicotinic acid (vitamin B3) – important for most redox reactions in the body (soaking rice in water before cooking will help increase absorption of the vitamin);
  • ​​
  • magnesium - found in brown rice, important in preventing many chronic diseases;
  • copper - deficiency of the mineral causes heart disease.

In addition to the components already mentioned, rice contains many plant compounds that are important for maintaining health. In pigmented cereal varieties, the maximum content of antioxidants was found. But white rice is categorically not suitable as a source of these beneficial substances.

Plant compounds in rice:

  • lignins - in the process of metabolism are converted into enterolactone, which performs a variety of functions in the body;
  • ferulic acid - a strong antioxidant found in rice bran, protects against cancer, diabetes, cardio diseases;
  • phytic acid is a antioxidant found in unpolished grains, but excessive intake may impair iron and zinc absorption.
Nutritional value of rice per 100 g of product
Calorie content 130 kcal
Proteins 2, 5 g
Fat 0.2 g
Carbohydrates 28.7 g
Vitamin B1 0.16 mg
Vitamin B2 0.02 mg
Vitamin B3 1.5 mg
Vitamin B5 0, 5 mg
Vitamin B6 0.06 mg
Folic acid 59 mcg
Calcium 1 mg
Iron 1.46 mg
Magnesium 8 mg
Phosphorus 33 mg
Potassium 26 mg
Zinc 0.4 mg
Manganese 0.36 mg
Selenium 7.5 mcg

Useful properties

Rice is considered to be one of the most useful foods in the world. Representatives of different culinary schools argue in what form and in combination with what products rice turns out to be the tastiest. But no matter what dish to cook from this cereal, its beneficial properties will not change from this. Here are some of the top benefits of this product.

Energy Source

Since rice is rich in carbohydrates, it acts as a "fuel" in the body, supplying energy to the muscles, and also activates the brain's performance.

In addition to carbohydrates, this cereal contains a complex of vitamins and minerals, which are also important for active life and improved metabolism.

Heart health

Cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes are the leading causes of death worldwide. Observations have shown that consumption of whole grains helps to reduce this indicator. Researchers followed hundreds of men who ate whole grains for breakfast every day for 5 years. As a result, their chance of developing a fatal heart disease decreased by almost 20 percent. A similar study involving women yielded even more inspiring results - the risk of cardiovascular disorders decreased by more than 30 percent. Other studies have proven that whole grains have a beneficial effect on vascular health in people with obesity or diabetes.

Stable blood pressure

Rice is low in sodium, so it is considered a good food for people with high blood pressure. Sodium can cause spasms and vasoconstriction, which as a result increases the load on the heart muscle. Foods that do not contain sodium can be considered food that prevents atherosclerosis, heart attack, stroke, and some other cardio diseases.

Cancer Prevention

Whole grain rice is rich in insoluble fiber, which researchers say can reduce the risk of various types of cancer. Scientists also suggest that this substance is able to slow down the metastasis of cancer cells. In particular, it is known that dietary fiber is an excellent prophylactic against colorectal cancer and oncological degeneration in the intestinal tissues.

However, in addition to fiber, rice contains natural antioxidants such as vitamins C and B, phenolic compounds and flavonoids, which protect the body from the harmful effects of free radicals. Thus, they prevent mutations at the cellular level, increase the ability to withstand dangerous substances and organisms.

Alzheimer's protection

Brown rice is rich in many beneficial substances that stimulate the activity of neurotransmitters. The result of such exposure is the prevention of Alzheimer's disease or the alleviation of its manifestation. Due to its special chemical composition, wild rice has been shown to stimulate brain cells, increase their protective abilities, and also suppress the harmful effects of free radicals and toxins, which as a result protects against the development of dementia.

Digestive benefits

Rice husks have been used for centuries as a remedy for dysentery and also as a diuretic. The Chinese consider this cereal indispensable for people with digestive problems, stomach ailments and lack of appetite. In addition, the inhabitants of the East use a decoction of rice husks as a means for losing weight and removing toxins from the body. And varieties rich in fiber prevent chronic constipation.

Source of vitamins

Grains of this cereal are a good source of vitamins and minerals. In particular, this product supplies the body with niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin D, calcium, and iron. These substances are indispensable for the immune system and proper metabolism.

Skin health

Scientific studies on the properties of rice grains have revealed that rice flour is effective in treating skin diseases.

The Indochinese have been using rice ointments for thousands of years to treat skin inflammations. Phenolic compounds found in rice (especially brown or wild) have anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, antioxidants protect against early wrinkles.

Other rice benefits:

  • gluten and cholesterol free ;
  • quickly restores energy;
  • improves intestinal motility;
  • slows down the aging process;
  • activates metabolism;
  • improves digestion;
  • lowers blood pressure;
  • promotes weight loss;
  • strengthens the immune system;
  • prevents cancer and heart disease.


Type 2 diabetes is one reason to avoid certain types of white rice as a high glycemic food. Also, a study involving more than 64,000 Chinese women showed that it is enough to eat 300 g of white grain daily to almost double the risk of developing diabetes. Therefore, diabetics are advised to consume only brown rice.

The second possible danger of this cereal is heavy metals, which can be concentrated in the bran. For this reason, brown rice can be more dangerous than polished rice.

How to choose the right rice

The general rules for buying rice are the same as for choosing other cereals. It must be dry, without mold or rotten smell. It is better to take the product in sealed packaging, but it is important to check its integrity.

But the rice selection process does not end there. Since there are many different varieties of this product, it's good to know which type is best for which dish. Here are some tips on how to choose rice.

  1. Correct rice looks like frosted glass.
  2. White as chalk - a sign of unripe grains, it quickly boils soft.
  3. Yellow grains - the product was kept moist for a long time before packaging. It may contain mycotonsins and carcinogens.

What is suitable for


Round-grained Japanese - sushi.

Round or medium-grained Arborio - porridge, risotto.

Round or medium-grained Krasnodar - soups, milk porridges.

Long-grained Basmati (considered the best of all varieties) - side dishes, oriental dishes, pilafs.

Long-grain Jasmine - for boiling under the lid, crumbly garnishes.

Long grain Indica - side dishes, pilafs, salads.

Wild rice (black) - side dishes, salads.

Unpolished (brown) - side dishes, salads, suitable for boiling in large amounts of water.

Red - side dishes, salads.

Grain shape classification:

  • long-grain - oblong, up to 8 mm, crumbly after cooking, used for soups, side dishes, salads, snacks;
  • medium-grained - round, up to 6 mm, sticky after cooking, but does not clump, used for cereals, soups, risotto;
  • round-grained - rounded, up to 5 mm, sticks together after cooking, used for cereals, soups, casseroles, puddings, desserts, as a filling for pies.

Rice water in cosmetology

This recipe has long been a secret known only to Japanese beauties. The ability of Asian women to maintain the freshness of the face until old age is legendary. And not so long ago, one of the most powerful cosmetic products used by Asian women was opened to the world. It turns out that the secret of their youth is in rice water, which is daily rubbed on the face, rinsed in the hair and added to the bath.

This wonder remedy only needs 1 tablespoon of rice and 1 cup of water. The components are mixed and brought to a boil. Everything is the incomparable rice water. By the way, this tool can not only smooth wrinkles and prevent the appearance of new ones, but also improves skin color, tightens it, protects against UV radiation, evens out tone, and eliminates freckles and age spots. It also successfully treats dermatitis and psoriasis.

Rice water is also known to be used by Chinese women as a hair care product. They rinse their hair with a decoction, use it as an ingredient in masks, and even use it for styling (under the influence of the decoction, the curls become more elastic, soft and obedient).

But besides traditional rice water, Asian women also use fermented infusion, which is supposed to have more pronounced medicinal properties. To do this, the rice broth is kept in a warm place throughout the day. Then apply as usual.

Fermented rice water can be prepared without boiling. To do this, pour raw grain with water and leave at room temperature for 2 days. When the infusion becomes sour in taste, you can use it. Store the finished fermented infusion (no matter what recipe prepared) in the refrigerator for no longer than 4 days.

Rice is one of the oldest crops on the planet. Like other cereals, it has many beneficial properties. But at the same time, like most other foods, it does not have the best effect on health with excessive enthusiasm, especially against the background of certain diseases.