White rice is a starch many people choose to put on their plates, but healthier options exist.
We’re not saying you can never eat white rice, but most of the time, try to make a healthier choice and pick something better for you, like brown rice, quinoa, barley or a non-grain option like cauliflower rice.
First of all, if you want to eat white rice (or any kind of rice — thousands of varieties exist,) add plenty of veggies and herbs to up the health content. Also, don’t eat too much. Stick to about 1 cup per meal. And when eating rice, pair it with beans to create a complete source of protein (especially a good thing for vegans).
Why brown rice is healthier than white rice
Brown rice is a whole grain, which means it’s the entire grain, and it’s healthier because it contains more nutrients and fiber. (For more about why you should choose whole grains, read this article.)
Some types of brown rice:
- Long-grain brown rice = good for casseroles and other baked dishes
- Medium-grain brown rice = more tender, good for paellas
- Brown basmati rice = good for pilafs
- Red rice = cooks faster than brown rice, has more iron and zinc than brown rice
Why Quinoa is healthier than white rice
Brown rice is healthy, but quinoa is even healthier. Quinoa is a complete protein. Also, it has more of the following nutrients compared to brown rice:
- Riboflavin. A serving or quinoa has 12 percent of your daily recommended intake of essential B vitamin, which helps you produce energy and fights off harmful free radicals.
- Folate. A cup of quinoa has 10 percent of your daily recommended value compared to brown rice’s two percent.
- Iron. A cup of quinoa has 15 percent of your daily recommended value, while brown rice has only five percent.
- Zinc. Quinoa has 13 percent of your daily recommended value, while brown rice has eight percent. Zinc is necessary for a healthy functioning immune system.
Brown rice actually has more selenium (good for heart health) and vitamin B3 (needed for the production of sex and stress hormones) than quinoa, but quinoa is still the healthier choice.
Why barley is healthier than white rice
Barley is one of the healthiest types of grain to consume, and many people choose it when looking for a white rice alternative.
It’s a great source of fiber and selenium and a good source of phosphorous, copper and manganese. Barley has much more fiber than brown rice. It does take longer to cook and requires more liquid than rice. Choose hulled barley if you can to get the whole grain. Pearled barley is more refined with fewer nutrients.
Cauliflower rice is a healthy choice
Cauliflower rice is a grain-free, gluten-free and nutrient-dense way to replace the white rice on your plate. It’s a great way to eat what seems like rice without all those carbs!
Why cauliflower is good for you:
- It helps prevent cancer.
- It helps detox your body and remove toxins.
- It has antioxidant properties. It’s a good source of vitamin C and a very good source of manganese.
- It has anti-inflammatory benefits. It’s an excellent source of vitamin K, which is a direct regulator of our inflammatory response.
- It supports your digestive system. It’s a good source of fiber and sulforaphane, which helps protect the lining of your stomach.
To make cauliflower into rice, all you need is a food processor or a blender, such as a Vitamix. Then, you can top riced cauliflower with the protein and veggies of your choice and even make a healthier “fried rice” that tastes like the real thing.
Here are some tasty, healthy, vegan recipes to try
1. Rice Pilaf with Kale, Cashews and Veggies
This rice pilaf recipe has plenty of healthy ingredients, including kale, and would be good with either white or brown rice.
2. Pineapple Fried Quinoa
Quinoa cooks quickly, so this pineapple fried quinoa recipe is a good one for weekday dinners.
3. Pistachio Pesto Quinoa
This quinoa salad recipe can be made hot or cold.
4. Quinoa with Veggies, Cashews and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
This healthy quinoa recipe has eggplant, zucchini, pumpkin and more.
5. Spicy Curry Cauliflower Rice with Kale
This cauliflower rice recipe is healthy and yummy.
Do you know of any other healthy, white rice alternatives or recipes you like?