If you type the phrase “is rice” into the Google search bar, it’ll fill in the rest of the question to indicate what the world is asking. In this case, the top two results are “is rice gluten-free?” and “is rice a carb?”
People just have no idea what rice is made of, which is a little shocking considering the amount of rice we eat.
In the 2017/2018 agricultural calendar alone, global consumption of rice topped 480,000 metric tons, so it’s probably a good idea to understand what exactly rice is and what it does to our bodies.
Is rice a carb?
Yes, rice is very much a carbohydrate. To be more precise, it’s a complex carb. To break it down even further, brown rice is an unrefined complex carb, and white rice is a refined complex carb.
Though we usually look down upon the unrefined things in life, unrefined carbs are actually a good thing when it comes to our health. The unrefined complex carbs found in brown rice require our bodies to do some work to digest them, which keeps us from having dramatic swings in our blood sugar and insulin levels. Because brown rice’s husk is intact, it contains tons of beneficial vitamins, nutrients and fiber (1.8 grams per serving) that can help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
White rice, on the other hand, is a refined complex carb, because the high-fiber parts of the grain have been removed by machinery. This makes the carbs easy for our bodies to digest, leading to unwanted sugar crashes. Compared with the 1.8 grams of fiber found in brown rice, white rice only contains has 0.4 grams of fiber.
Which has more carbs, brown or white rice?
In general, white rice has a higher number of total carbohydrates than brown rice. We’ve broken down popular types of rice below by grams of total carbohydrates per serving, but it’s important to keep in mind that nutritional info can vary by brand.
- Arborio rice (risotto rice): 45g carbs
- White basmati rice: 41g
- Brown basmati rice: 33g
- Long-grain white rice: 75g
- Long-grain brown rice: 35g
- White jasmine rice: 45g
- Brown jasmine rice: 22g
- Wild rice: 35g
- Japanese or sushi rice: 29g
- White short-grain rice: 53g
- Brown short-grain rice: 35g
Which has a higher glycemic index, brown or white rice?
A glycemic index, or GI, is a way of ranking carbohydrate-containing foods according to their immediate effects on blood sugar levels. Carbs with a low GI are more slowly digested, causing a slower rise in insulin levels. Foods with a high GI are quickly digested and make our insulin levels skyrocket.
A low GI is defined as 55 and under, intermediate is 56 to 69, and high is 70 and above.
Again, the GI varies by brand of rice, so shop around until you find a brand that suits you best. But here are a few examples that give a general sense of the numbers, according to GlycemicIndex.com:
- Long grain rice, white, Golden Crown brand: 76 (HIGH)
- Medium grain rice, white, Double Ram brand: 89 (HIGH)
- Brown rice (general): 66 (INTERMEDIATE)
- Japonica, short-grain brown rice: 62 (INTERMEDIATE)
- Japonica short-grain brown rice, pre-germinated: 54 (LOW)
Is rice gluten-free?
Yes, all rice is gluten-free in its natural state. Every type of white, brown and wild rice we’ve mentioned in this article is gluten-free, including sticky rice, which is also confusingly called glutinous rice. The term “glutinous” refers to the rice’s stickiness, not its gluten content.
The only time your rice may not be gluten-free is when it’s sold in packaging with a mix ― such as a box of pilaf ― that could’ve been mixed with glutinous ingredients. Always double check ingredient labels to be sure that what you are eating is truly gluten-free.
Now that you know what you’re eating, learn how to cook it with some of our favorite rice bowl recipes below: