Rice, Colorful Considerations

Rice comes in a variety of colors: white, black, brown, wild and red. It’s one of the least allergenic of all grains, is gluten free and very cost effective.

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 7.45.22 AM

Rice Nutrition

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data from 2001-2002 showed that 18.2% of adults consumed rice, yet the majority of us consume the processed, and enriched long-grain white rice version. Rice contains 90 calories per ½ cup serving so consumers need to be careful as the average take out container contains 2 cups or 4 servings. Rice contains 2-5% of your Daily value for protein depending on the variety. Brown is rich in whole grains and has more protein and fiber which means it will help you stay fuller longer and is less apt to raise blood sugar.

Health Benefits

The darker the color of the rice, the more antioxidant flavonoids it contains. In general, black rice contains more flavonoids then red rice and both are richer than white rice. Flavonoids help neutralize free radicals that cause damage to our cells. Flavonoids are being studied for their potential ability to reduce inflammation, enhance blood vessel health and reduce blood pressure.

Brown, black, red and wild rice are all whole grain foods. In 2008, the FDA approved the following health claim for brown rice.

“Diets rich in whole-grain foods and other plant foods and low in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers. The recent 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans also called out the benefits of whole grain foods, recommending that we make ½ our grains whole grains.

Health Concerns

Arsenic is a naturally occurring element in our soil and groundwater. Most foods contain small amounts whether they are grown conventionally or organically. Oftentimes rice regardless of whether it is grown organically or not, is grown in water flooded fields its roots readily absorb the groundwater. Geographically rice grown in the central states such as Arkansas have higher arsenic than that which is grown in California due to the longer history of pesticide use. Arsenic is more apt to concentrate in the outer bran and germ layers which mean brown rice has a higher arsenic content than white rice. Upon investigation over the concern about arsenic in rice, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised consumers to eat a varied diet to minimize the potential health risks from consuming any one food in excess. For concerned parents, the FDA suggests limiting their child’s rice cereal to one serving per week offering instead oat, wheat and barley alternatives.  Another good rule of thumb is to rinse your rice before boiling until the water runs clear.

While rice is basically sodium free, its packaged counterparts pack a powerful load. Per ½ cup serving, packaged rice mixes vary anywhere from 250 – 450 milligrams of sodium for just a side dish. For those of us who add soy sauce to our rice, each Tablespoon adds an additional 920 milligrams to our dish. You can reduce it down to 575 milligrams by using the low sodium variety. Remember that our limit is 2300 milligrams per day.


Rice Varieties

Arborio Medium grain, with a texture that is firm but creamy and chewy. Uses: Italian risotto.
Aromatic Floral aroma and flavor similar to popcorn or roasted nuts. Includes Jasmine and basmati.
Black Mild, nutty taste. Whole grain, rich in anthocyanins.   Fades to purple upon cooking.
Brown Mild, nutty taste. Whole grain, chewy texture.
Enriched White Processed to remove husk, brand and germ, vitamin and mineral enriched.
Glutinous Loses shape upon cooking becoming sticky. Uses: Asian dishes
Long Grain Less apt to stick together. Uses: prepared, frozen meals, soups and casseroles
Red Nutty taste and chewy consistency
Short & Medium Grain Moist, tender and cling together. Uses: desserts and puddings.
Wild Actually a seed of an aquatic grass native to North America. Higher in protein and fiber


Enjoy rice in moderation and keep in mind the 1/2 cup serving size.  Extend your rice in dishes by mixing in vegetables, fruits and lean meats.  Check out the recipes below, courtesy of Chef Rachel Rockwell.  If your family is apt to over indulge in this fluffy grain, choose basmati white rice grown in California, India and Pakistan.

More Resources

7 Things to Know About Arsenic and Rice

Pineapple Coconut Cashew RiceServes 4-6


  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked long grained rice, rinsed and drained
  • 1 20 oz can crushed pineapple in 100% juice (no sugar added)
  • 1 13.5 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice, more or less to taste
  • 1/2 cup unsalted roasted cashews
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • freshly cracked salt and pepper to taste


  1. Drain pineapple juice from crushed pineapple in a measuring cup. Add coconut milk to equal 3 cups liquid, adding water if necessary.
  2. Add liquid to a large pan and bring to a gentle simmer then stir in all remaining ingredients EXCEPT Garnishes. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce heat to low simmer for approximately 20 minutes or until rice is tender, stirring at 15 minutes, adding water if necessary.
  3. When rice is tender, remove from heat and let rest 5 minutes, covered.
  4. When ready to serve, stir in lime juice, cilantro and cashews.
  5. Taste and season with freshly cracked salt and pepper and additional lime juice to taste if desired.

Chocolate Mocha Rice PuddingServes 4-6


  • 3/4 cup basmati rice
  • 3 cups skim milk
  • 1 cup strongly brewed coffee
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 (6 ounce) bar bittersweet chocolate, crushed, or 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur (optional)
  • Fresh berries


  1. Combine the rice, milk, coffee, sugar, and salt in a large saucepan over high heat. While stirring frequently, bring everything to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until the rice is tender and the mixture thickens, 30 to 40 minutes.
  2. Remove the rice mixture from the heat. Add the chocolate and stir until it is melted and thoroughly incorporated into the rice. Stir in coffee liqueur.
  3. Spoon the pudding into individual bowls and serve warm. Or cover and chill until cold and serve with fresh berries.

Black Rice Salad with Lemon VinaigretteServes 6


  • 1 cup black rice
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice or 3 tablespoons regular lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon agave syrup (nectar) or honey
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 4 ounces green beans, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook rice in a medium saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, 35-40 minutes. Drain well, spread out on a plate or a rimmed baking sheet, and let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, spread out walnuts on another rimmed baking sheet. Toast in oven, tossing once, until fragrant, 8-10 minutes. Let cool; chop.
  3. Whisk lemon juice, vinegar, and agave in a small bowl. Whisking constantly, gradually drizzle in oil. Season vinaigrette with salt.
  4. Toss rice, walnuts, scallions, edamame, tomatoes, green beans, and vinaigrette in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Stuffed Bell PeppersServes 6


  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6 bell peppers, any color
  • 2 (8 ounce) can low sodium tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Bring brown rice and stock to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed, 45 to 50 minutes.
  3. Cook and stir turkey, garlic, and onion in a skillet over medium heat until meat is evenly browned and onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove and discard the tops, seeds, and membranes of the green, red, and yellow bell peppers. Arrange peppers in a baking dish with the hollowed sides facing upward. Slice the bottoms off the peppers if necessary so that they stand upright.
  5. Mix the cooked turkey, brown rice, 1 can tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Spoon an equal amount of the mixture into each hollowed pepper. Mix the remaining tomato sauce and Italian seasoning in a bowl, and pour over the stuffed peppers.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven, basting with sauce every 15 minutes, until the peppers are tender, about 1 hour. Sprinkle the peppers with grated Parmesan cheese after baking.




Categories: Nutrition & Wellness, Recipes, The Grocery Aisle

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: