There’s a reason why rice is one of the most popular grains throughout the world. It’s extremely adaptable and may be used to complement a many flavor profiles and culinary traditions. Plus, there are several types to pick from (more than 120,000 if you need to get technical!). According To Food & Wine, globally, rice makes up about one-fifth of all calories consumed.
One of the most well-known varieties is white rice, which is refined rice with the outer husk, bran layers, and germ removed. Despite its popularity, white rice has a bad reputation because of how it is produced, particularly when compared to brown rice, which is more nutritious. You’ve probably heard white Rice is called a “poor carb” or an “empty calorie.” Is it really necessary to avoid it entirely?
We spoke with Lauren Manaker, author of The 7 Ingredient Cookbook for Healthy Pregnancy and The First Time Mom’s Pregnancy Cookbook, to learn more about what white rice does to your body. There are some surprising side effects—both beneficial and not so beneficial—when it comes to eating white rice.
1 — You might have more energy.
Looks like your Chipotle order will not keep you feeling sluggish or overstuffed. If you add white rice in, that is.
“White rice is a source of carbs that are the body’s primary energy source,” according to Manaker. “Plus, many white rice varieties in the United States are fortified with B vitamins, which may help promote energy levels.”
All of the B vitamins, except for folate, are involved in at least one portion of the energy-production system inside a cell, according to recent research. It is also critical to consume various B vitamins for energy production. And if you don’t get enough of it, your body’s energy output will be restricted, which can have a detrimental impact on your metabolic and overall health.
2 — You might ingest arsenic.
Arsenic is a minor element that, when consumed in great amounts and on a frequent basis, can result in several health problems.
“When you eat rice, you might be eating arsenic as well,” she explains.
White rice, on the other hand, has less arsenic than brown rice, which is why it’s still essential to avoid overeating and mix your grains. Amaranth, quinoa, bulgur, and farro are some low-arsenic alternatives that may be worth a try.
You should also examine the arsenic levels in the region where your rice was grown to see if they’re lower or greater. For example, white basmati rice from India, California, and Pakistan has less arsenic than other varieties of rice. Another example is sushi rice from the United States.
3 — You might have stronger bones.
Turns out that white rice might be beneficial for bone health, as long as it is consumed in moderation.
“We all know that vitamin D and calcium are critical for bone health,” according to Manaker. “However, white rice contains manganese, an underappreciated bone health hero nutrient.”