Top 5 Rice Nutrition Myths Debunked

Rice, as a whole, tends to get some pretty bad press. So, when you start seeing organic brown rice protein powder, it can be a little confusing. How exactly is this stuff good for you?


Well, let's set the powder aside and just talk about rice nutrition. By debunking a few of myths surrounding the source grain itself, you may be better able to appreciate the protein powder derived from it.


Rice makes you fat


In large part, this myth is likely a spin-off of the fear of grains that so many people have recently developed. Grains contain carbohydrates and, as the thinking goes, carbohydrates are bad for your waistline. This is simply not true.


Carbs are a vital source of fuel but, just like the other two macronutrients, needs to be eaten in a balanced way. If you take in too many calories, from any source, you will gain weight. Rice and other grains are no different.


Closeup of three different types of rice in piles next to each other


Of course, it should be pointed out that white rice can be rapidly absorbed and create a spike insulin which – under the wrong conditions – can cause problems. But we'll discuss that in #5.


Rice has no protein


Simply because rice is a plant, and a grain at that, people often assume that it has no protein. Again, this is not true. One cup of brown rice contains about 5g of protein while white rice comes in just slightly lower at about 4.2g per cup.


Rice is a low-quality protein


But just containing protein isn't enough, a food needs to have a “quality” protein. This is a somewhat troublesome way to describe the amino acid profile of a specific food.


When a protein source is made up of all the essential amino acids that your body cannot make itself, it is spoken of as being “complete.” If any of those amino acids are missing, it is “incomplete.”


Here's the problem, though: those amino acids can be gained through any number of foods throughout the day and still benefit you just as much. To fill the nutritional gaps in rice, beans are a classic pairing.


This does not mean that the protein is low-quality; it is still highly beneficial.


Rice is full of heavy metals and other toxins


Due to the processes used to grow and harvest rice, concern has risen over how much of these chemicals make it into the grain. Essentially, it depends. The rice can be grown and harvested in such a way that these compounds are not used and can be tested for them later on.


So, while some of these chemicals might appear in some rice, that doesn't mean it's in all of the grain out there.


Bowl of raw brown rice grains


Rice causes diabetes


As mentioned in #1, some foods can created a rapid spike in your insulin levels and – if these levels stay elevated for long stretches of time – your body may stop responding to the signals sent by the hormone.


This means that sugar will not be properly absorbed into your cells and you will be chronically tired, hungry and moody – ultimately leading to the development of Type II diabetes.


Rice is most likely not one of those foods. For one thing, the variety of rice has a large impact on how much it effects your blood sugar. Short-grain has the most dramatic effect, followed by brown and medium grain.


But ingesting a carbohydrate with a protein also slows down its absorption rate – which is pretty common practice with rice.