Both simple and complex carbohydrates are an important part of your diet. They are the fuel from which the human body derives most of its energy. At least half of the calories consumed should come from carbohydrates, especially complex carbohydrates like rice. Sugars, starch, and fiber are forms of carbohydrates.
Simple carbohydrates are sugars, which include glucose, fructose, lactose, and sucrose. Complex carbohydrates, which are actually large chains of glucose molecules, consist primarily of starches and fiber. Starch is the storage form of carbohydrates in plants; the storage form in humans is glycogen.
Rice contains a very high percentage of carbohydrates (ranging from 23.3 to 25.5 grams per 100 grams of cooked rice). As a matter of fact, 90% of the calories in rice come from carbohydrates. Rice, a complex carbohydrate food, provides more vitamins, minerals, and fiber than simple carbohydrate foods.
Experts recommend we consume at least 25 grams of fiber every day to decrease risk of chronic diseases. Fiber-rich foods help promote proper bowel function and reduce the risk of developing intestinal disorders. One-half cup cooked white rice provides 0.3 grams of dietary fiber. One-half cup cooked brown rice provides 1.8 grams of dietary fiber.
Dietary proteins provide amino acids to build and maintain tissues, and to form enzymes, some hormones, and antibodies. Proteins function in some body regulating processes and are a source of energy.
Proteins, unique among the energy nutrients because they contain nitrogen, are composed of amino acid units that are linked in chains. Essential amino acids cannot be manufactured by the body; therefore, they must be provided by dietary protein. All of the eight amino acids must be present at the same time and in the right proportion in order for protein to be synthesized. The protein in rice is well balanced because all eight amino acids are present and in proper proportion. Therefore, rice is a unique cereal grain. The protein content of rice, while limited (ranging from 2.0 to 2.5 mg. per 1/2 cup of cooked rice), is considered one of the highest quality proteins to that provided by other cereal grains.
Biological value is a measure of protein quality, assessed by determining the extent to which a given protein supports nitrogen retention. The most perfect protein by this standard is egg protein (biological value 100); this has been designated the reference protein by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Rice protein has a biological value of 86. Fish fillet protein has a biological value of 75-90. Corn protein has a biological value of 40. Generally, a biological value of 70 or above indicates acceptable quality.
Rice contains only a trace of fat (ranging from 0.2 grams for 1/2 cup cooked white rice to 0.9 grams per 100 grams for 1/2 cup cooked brown rice).
Fat is the most concentrated source of food energy. In addition to providing energy, fat aids in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Fatty acids are the basic chemical units in fat. All fatty acids needed by the body can be synthesized from carbohydrates, fats, or proteins, except one--linoleic acid. Linoleic acid accounts for 30% of the total amount of fatty acids in rice.
The Dietary Guidelines of Americans include a reduction in current intake of total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. Because rice is very low in fat (less than 1% of the calories come from fat), and contains no cholesterol, it is an excellent food to include in all types of diets.
Over 70% of the white rice consumed in the United States is enriched. Rice naturally contains thiamin, niacin, and iron. However, during the milling process, the quantities of these nutrients are reduced. To bring the nutritional value of the milled product up to that of whole grain (brown), rice is enriched with thiamin, niacin, and iron. All enriched rice is additionally fortified with folic acid. The fortification of folic acid in all enriched grain-based products became law in January 1998. Enrichment levels of these nutrients, which are specified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, provide for a minimum of 2 milligrams thiamin, 13 milligrams iron, 16 milligrams niacin, and 0.7 milligrams folic acid per pound of raw rice.
The enrichment mixture is applied to rice as a coating. Therefore, it is recommended that rice not be rinsed before or after cooking and not be cooked in excessive amounts of water and then drained. The enrichment and other water-soluble vitamins and minerals would be lost.
Six states have laws that require enrichment of all milled rice: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, New York, and South Carolina. However, enriched rice is readily available in all states.
Folic acid is a B-vitamin recommended to be taken by women of childbearing age as a means of reducing neural tube defects. Folic acid has been proven to help red blood cells mature and in the synthesis of RNA and DNA. The FDA recommends that adults take 400 micrograms of folic acid from a mixed and varied diet. This diet includes foods naturally rich in folic acid such as green and leafy vegetables as well as fortified grain products. One-half cup serving of enriched white rice contains 8 percent of the U.S. Daily Value (DV) for folic acid
Thiamin (Vitamin B-1) functions as part of a coenzyme involved in the breakdown of glucose to yield energy. Adequate functioning of thiamin maintains healthy brain and nerve cells, healthy heart functions, a normal appetite, and a good mental outlook. Because thiamin cannot be stored in the body, thiamin-containing foods should be included in the daily diet. Including whole-grain or enriched breads and cereals is the most effective strategy for obtaining thiamin. One half-cup serving of cooked brown rice provides 6% of the U.S. Daily Value (DV) for thiamin. And one half-cup serving of cooked white rice provides 7% of the U.S. Daily Value (DV) for thiamin.
Niacin is also required for the breakdown of glucose for energy production. Niacin is essential for healthy skin and normal functioning of the digestive and nervous systems. One half-cup serving of cooked brown rice provides 8% of the U.S. Daily Value (DV) for niacin. And one half-cup serving of cooked white rice provides 6% of the U.S. Daily Value (DV) for niacin.
Most of the iron in the human body is present in hemoglobin, a protein that consists of an iron-containing compound, heme, attached to a protein, globin. Hemoglobin carries oxygen to the tissues so that oxidation reactions can take place in the cells. Iron is also a constituent of many enzymes that are required for the breakdown of glucose and fatty acids for energy. One half-cup of cooked brown rice provides 8% of the U.S. Daily Value (DV) for iron. And one-half-cup serving of cooked white rice provides 7% of the U.S. Daily Value (DV) for iron.
Rice contains a small amount of riboflavin (Vitamin B-2), which is metabolically essential for energy production and maintenance of skin and eye tissues. One half-cup serving of cooked brown rice provides 1% of the U.S. Daily Value (DV) for riboflavin.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that protects Vitamin A and essential fatty acids from oxidation in the body cells and prevents breakdown of body tissue. One half-cup serving of brown rice provides a trace of Vitamin E.
Rice provides a trace of calcium, which helps build bones and teeth and regulates body processes.
Phosphorus is very important for building bones and teeth and has a critical role in metabolism. One half-cup serving of cooked brown rice provides 8% of the U.S. Daily Value (DV) for phosphorus. And one half-cup serving of cooked white rice provides 3% of the U.S. Daily Value (DV) for phosphorus.
Potassium is essential for synthesis of proteins, for enzyme functions within cells, and for maintenance of the body's fluid balance. One half-cup serving of cooked brown rice provides 1% of the U.S. Daily Value (DV) for potassium. One half-cup of cooked white rice contains a trace of potassium.
Sodium helps maintain the fluid balance of the body and the normal function of nerves and muscles. Although sodium is needed for good health, most Americans consume much more than the necessary amount. Cereal grains such as rice are naturally low in sodium. In fact, white rice contains almost no sodium per half-cup serving. The sodium content of cooked rice is affected by the sodium ion content of the water used for cooking and the addition of salt during cooking or eating. Rice is an ideal food to include in sodium-restricted diets.
Courtesy of USA Rice Federation