Rice: Safe or Scary?

Filed under: Feeding & Sleeping, Expert Advice: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Nutrition: Big Kids, Expert Advice: Big Kids, Nutrition: Tweens, Nutrition: Teens


Is rice a healthy food? Credit: avlxyz, Flickr


Rice is a staple food for many cultures around the world--cultures that don't have the kind of obesity problem that we do here in the U.S. But many Americans have a bit of a rice fear, thinking that, as a carb, rice will make you fat. So should we be wary of rice? Or is it a perfectly good food to spoon onto your family's plates come dinnertime?

VERDICT ...

Brown Rice: Brown rice is an incredibly healthy food -- even Uncle Ben's microwavable quick-cooking version makes the list of top 10 superfoods put together by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Brown rice is packed with fiber, manganese, selenium, magnesium and other nutrients. Overall, it's an excellent choice. Just be sure to soak the raw rice in water 1-8 hours prior to cooking in order to neutralize its phytic acid, a compound present in brown rice that can block absorption of zinc and other minerals.

White Rice: White rice starts out as brown rice, but then it gets milled and polished. In that process, virtually all the nutrients and fiber naturally present in the rice are removed. What you're left with is essentially just grains of refined starch--in other words, empty calories.

Wild Rice: Like brown rice, wild rice is a whole grain. Technically not rice, but actually a marsh grass, wild rice is a protein-rich food high in potassium, phosphorous, and vitamins. It's a healthy and delicious addition to your plate.

Flavored Rice Mixes: Products like Rice-A-Roni and Goya's flavored rice mixes may be convenient, but they're loaded with sodium, MSG and other chemical additives. You're much better off cooking up some plain rice and seasoning it yourself.

Jennifer Schonborn is a holistic nutrition counselor, certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. Sign up for her newsletter and free consultation at jenniferschonborn.com.

Related: Brown Rice Salads Can Be Kid Pleasers, Too

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.