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Is Eating Rice Healthy?

Eating rice can be a healthy option if the dieter takes into account the type and amount of rice consumed. White rice has some of the same health drawbacks as white bread, but brown or wild rice can be a healthy source of carbohydrates. Choosing the right rice and fitting it into the dieter's everyday lifestyle can make all the difference.

Choosing white rice means leaving most of the dietary fiber and some of the nutrients out of the rice kernel. Processing and polishing rice deletes the outer bran of the rice kernel that contains needed dietary fiber. MyPyramid.gov states that the refining process makes the rice grain smoother, more palatable and lengthens the shelf life of the rice at the cost of needed fiber and some nutrients.

Better choices for rice dishes are brown or wild rice, as they are whole grains with all the B-complex vitamins, iron and dietary fiber needed for proper digestion intact. The advantages of whole grain rice are comparable to those of whole-grain breads and cereals, which provide needed complex carbohydrates for long-term energy for body function. Whole grain rice tends to make the dieter feel more full as well as helping regulate bowel movement naturally.

Some processed rice labels state the rice has been enriched or fortified with vitamins and minerals lost during the milling process. Taking away natural nutrients and fiber and then artificially restoring those nutrients doesn't make up for the loss of the natural nutrients and fiber. MyPyramid.gov states even if the artificially restored vitamins and minerals are calibrated as equal to the original, whole grain rice, the final product still lacks needed fiber. It is also debatable that artificial nutrients are absorbed by the body as naturally or easily as the original whole-grain nutrients.

The risk of developing diabetes can hinge on the kind of rice a dieter eats. The Harvard School of Public Health states that substituting brown rice for white rice can lessen the risk of becoming diabetic. The fiber in brown rice also helps prevent heart disease because fiber binds with fatty substances in the intestines and lowers bad cholesterol in the dieter. The regulation of sugar levels in whole-grain rice also helps the dieter control hunger to help prevent over-eating and obesity, which can lead to diabetes. In contrast, eating large amounts of white rice may actually increase the possibility of becoming diabetic.

Basic math reveals the actual nutrition differences between brown and white rice. The process of converting brown rice to white includes the loss of 67 percent of vitamin B-3, 80 percent of B-1 and 90 percent of the B-6 in the original kernel. Half of minerals such as manganese and phosphorus and 60 percent of the iron is also lost. Besides a loss of dietary fiber, processing rice destroys 11 nutrients that can't be restored through artificial enrichment. Both white rice and brown rice contain carbohydrates. The carbs in brown rice simply have more nutrition than those in white rice.

The amount of whole-grain rice eaten daily for a healthy diet depends on how much other whole grain foods the dieter eats. About 6 to 8 ounces of whole-grain foods should be eaten on a 2,000-calorie diet, according to the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans. About a half-cup cooked rice equals an ounce. Along with the whole grains, about 2 cups of veggies, 2 cups of fruit and 6 ounces of poultry, fish or lean meat and 2 or 3 cups of low-fat milk or other dairy products help fill out the diet.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.