Some data suggests that excessive consumption of white rice may contribute to high cholesterol. However, choosing whole-grain varieties adds more fiber and nutrients to the diet and can help a person manage their cholesterol.
Rice is a staple food all over the world and even the main cereal in many countries. However, there is conflicting evidence on the health effects of rice and whether its consumption may contribute to high cholesterol. This article discusses the nutritional composition of rice and the most appropriate types of rice for a person who needs to control their cholesterol levels. Also, it gives advice on how much rice to eat and what nutritious alternatives to include in daily meals.
Although rice does not contain cholesterol, it can affect the body in ways that can raise someone’s cholesterol or triglyceride levels. Additionally, there are several factors to consider when determining whether rice can cause a person to develop high cholesterol. These include the following factors:
the type of rice a person eats
how often it is consumed
what she eats with the rice
if she has risk factors for high cholesterol, such as obesity, inactivity, or a low-nutrition diet.
Types of rice
The type of rice a person eats can determine whether they are at risk of raising their cholesterol levels. There are two types of rice grains: refined grains and unrefined grains.
Food producers make refined grains by removing the husk, bran, and germ from the grain, which deprives them of nutrients such as B vitamins and fiber. White rice is a refined grain, although American manufacturers often fortify it with nutrients. However, it is still devoid of fiber. In contrast, unrefined or whole grains contain all of the natural plant nutrients, including fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Unrefined rice includes:
Nutrition of white rice and brown rice
One cup of cooked white rice and one cup of cooked brown rice contain the following amounts of additional nutrients and fiber:
White rice Brown rice
Fiber 1.74 grams (g) 3.23 g
Folate 1.74 micrograms (mcg) 18.2 mcg
Choline 3.65mg 18.6mg
Niacin 0.505mg 5.17mg
Protein 3.52g 5.54g
Why brown rice is better for cholesterol management
Current research suggests that eating unrefined grains is better for overall health and cholesterol management. For example, a 2020 review of 25 studies suggests that eating whole grains instead of refined grains in adults with and without cardiovascular risk factors may improve total cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. (LDL).
Additionally, a 2020 study of more than 132,000 participants in 21 countries found that higher consumption of white rice is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, with the strongest correlation seen in South Asia. The study suggests that the glucose index (GI) of processed white rice is as high as that of white bread and that eating high GI foods is a risk factor for diabetes. Additionally, excess blood sugar can also lead to high triglycerides, which can cause high cholesterol. The aforementioned study suggests that eating too much rice can cause blood sugar spikes.
A cup of cooked long-grain brown rice contains more than 3 g of fiber, compared to less than 1 g for a cup of cooked long-grain white rice. Therefore, choosing brown rice best contributes to the 22–34 g of fiber the AHA recommends consuming per day, depending on age and gender. Dietary fiber from whole foods, such as brown rice, may lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol and supplement statin therapy to prevent heart disease, according to a 2019 review. This research indicates that consuming naturally rich foods fiber can help prevent and manage high cholesterol.
How much rice to eat?
For adults, you can consume 170 to 280g of cereal per day, depending on their age and gender. This amount includes rice and other grains like bread, oatmeal and buckwheat. In addition, it is better if half of the cereals consumed consist of whole grains. However, a person can help maintain a moderate weight and manage cholesterol by eating fewer grains. She can seek advice from a dietitian or health professional on how much to eat. Additionally, if a person chooses white rice, they can pair it with a source of lean protein, vegetables, and nutritious fats for a more nutritious meal.
More nutritious alternatives to white rice
Although eating white rice may provide additional nutrients, such as B vitamins, people should generally limit refined grains to half their daily intake. Therefore, a person may choose the following nutritious alternatives in place of white rice, depending on the meal or recipe they are preparing:
There is some evidence to suggest that eating refined grains, such as white rice, may contribute to the development of high cholesterol. This is why advisory bodies recommend that people consume at least half of their daily grain intake in their whole, unrefined form. Therefore, to manage cholesterol, a person can choose types of brown rice to consume in moderate amounts suited to their health goals and weight. Also, there are more nutritious alternatives to white rice, such as quinoa and bulgur. If a person needs advice on how to lower their cholesterol levels, they can speak to a doctor or a dietitian.