Helpful Tips

What is the Best Rice to Eat?

Rice Grain Variety

Rice has been part of our diet for hundreds of years, but in the last five years or so, many nutritionists have given it a bad rap, claiming eating too much rice can really pack on the calories. So, what’s the best rice to eat that won’t make you gain weight and one that actually offers some health benefits? If you know what to look for, rice can be a very nutritious option. So, let’s look at which types of rice to avoid, and which types of rice are packing the vitamins and nutrients you need to boost your overall health and to help maintain a healthy weight.

What is the best rice to eat? Simple answer – it depends.  The best type of rice for you to eat will depend on your health and fitness goals, in addition to any weight loss goals you may have. For many people, brown and wild rice are the go-to choices since they’re so nutrient-dense. Whereas fitness enthusiasts will go for a large side of white rice after an intense workout since this type of rice can provide the muscles with the kind of energy they need in order to refuel. Each type of rice comes with its own health benefits, so the rice you pick should be based on your daily calorie intake goals, weight loss goals, and workout routines.

Brown Rice

If you normally follow a healthy diet, then you’re probably already familiar with brown rice and the many health benefits linked to it. There are a variety of different types of brown rice to choose from such as Basmati and Jasmine. This type of rice contains the bran and germ layers, which means it provides fitness enthusiasts with a wide range of important nutrients such as B vitamins, magnesium, and phosphorus. While studies have shown that approximately half of Americans don’t consume enough magnesium-rich foods daily, this mineral is actually essential when it comes to proper muscle function. Additionally, people with low levels of magnesium are at a higher risk of heart disease.

Brown Rice Wood Spoon

Brown rice also provides five grams of dietary fiber per cup, which can help to curb cravings between meals by slowing down digestion. Brown rice itself has a nice full, nutty flavor that you just can’t get from white rice.

The biggest reason many cooks steer clear of this rice is the fact that it can be pretty difficult to get it to turn out right. Most people make the mistake of failing to soak the rice before steaming or boiling it, which is why this type of rice often turns out overcooked or undercooked.

Although you can make rice on the stove top, you must be very careful and watch it like a hawk.  Instead, most people today are using an automatic rice cooker to do the job.  Try using the best Japanese rice cooker, such as the Panasonic rice cooker and multi-cooker SR-HZ106. This model has a dedicated brown rice cooking preset that takes all the guesswork out of how to get this rice dish right. To learn more, make sure you read my guide on how to cook brown rice in a rice cooker.

Stovetop Instructions

If you want to cook your brown rice on the stove, then the directions below will help you get it right the first time.

To start, place one cup of brown rice in a large bowl and fill it with water. Allow the rice to soak for a few hours. Once the rice is done soaking, drain and place the rice and one and a half cups of water in a medium-sized saucepan. Add just a pinch of salt. Bring the rice to a nice rolling boil, then reduce the heat and allow it to simmer covered for twenty to thirty minutes or until the rice is tender. Next, remove from the pot from the burner and allow the rice to stand covered for fifteen minutes. Fluff with a fork and the rice should be ready to go.

If you’re looking for brown rice that has a little more flavor, try boiling it in coconut water. Coconut water is also loaded with vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes, so you can enjoy an even more nutritional rice side dish.

Wild Rice

There are also many health benefits linked to wild rice. But while it grows and looks like rice, it’s actually not rice at all. Wild rice is native to North America, and it’s a seed that comes from a type of aquatic grass that was traditionally harvested using a canoe by indigenous populations. Today, many types of modern wild rice varieties have been cultivated and processed, so you don’t get the same type of nutrients that you would with true wild rice. However, you can still find lake-grown, hand-harvested, organic wild rice in some specialty stores. In organic form, this rice offers an impressive variety of nutrients including zinc, phosphorus, B vitamins, and folate.

This type of rice has a somewhat nutty, smoky flavor and a chewy texture, which goes well with lean proteins such as chicken and fish. The big drawback with this type of rice is that it can take around an hour to cook. To cut down on cooking time try soaking the rice overnight, so you’ll only have to deal with a thirty to forty minute cooking time.

What is Sprouted Rice?

If you’re looking for rice that offers a heavy nutrient load and one that will give you more bang for your buck, then go with sprouted rice. In order to make this type of rice, many companies germinate the grains. This type of process will encourage the rice to begin growing into a plant, a process which does wonders for the grain’s nutritional value. Studies have found that sprouted rice offers a higher level of gamma-aminobutyric acid, which is an important compound that supports heart health and naturally elevates mood. Additionally, foods that are sprouted are much easier for the body to digest at a much faster rate. They also tend to cook much faster because the hard outer shell has been softened during the germination process. You can find a variety of sprouted rice types, but sprouted brown is by far the most nutrient-dense.

Wehani Rice

Wehani red rice isolated on white background

Created by Lundberb Family Farms located in northern California, this rice has a chewy texture and is classified as a type of long-grain heirloom rice. When cooked it has a smell that will remind you of buttered popcorn and a flavor that’s similar to brown rice.

This type of rice is high in slow-digesting complex carbs that are essential for fueling muscle growth and function. It’s important to keep in mind that carbs are what deliver the majority of energy that the body needs in order to sustain intense lifting sessions, although every lifter tends to focus more on their protein intake for muscle sculpting. But a large helping of whole-grain rice on the side is just what the body needs to fuel their muscles during a workout. Yet, considering this type of rice is less processed than others, you will need to use caution in terms of the serving size since the higher fiber content can lead to digestive upset, especially if you eat it right before a workout.


Cultivated in China, this type of rice features a chewy texture and a nutty, sweet taste. Research has shown that the bran layer on black rice contains a high amount of anthocyanins, which is the same type of antioxidants that you’ll find in blueberries. These antioxidants can help to eliminate cancer-causing free radicals. If you want to give this rice a shot, make sure you head to your local Asian market or health food store, since this rice can be hard to find in some local grocery stores.

This rice shouldn’t be confused with Thai or wild rice. This is a vibrant purple medium-grain rice that can become slightly sticky when cooked. It’s a great addition to salad, soup, or stir-fry dishes.

White Rice

Rice is made up of three components: the germ, bran, and endosperm. Bran is where you’ll find the majority of dietary fiber and it contains a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. During processing, the bran and germ are removed and the result is white rice, which mainly consists of just endosperm

The endosperm is mainly just a type of fast-digesting carbs which is why many people who are trying to lose weight often steer clear of it in favor of brown rice. But white rice can be the perfect choice for anyone in need of fast-digesting carbs after an intense workout. These carbs will be quickly taken up by the muscles in order to resupply energy.

Final Thoughts

So, what is the best rice to eat? This really depends on your personal preference, weight loss goals, and whether or not you exercise regularly, or lift weights. Wild and brown rice are perfect for people looking for the most nutrient-dense rice out there, but since it can take so long to digest, it can cause digestive upset if you overdo it. Additionally, white rice is very versatile and can be paired with a variety of entrees, however, if you’re not careful, it can easily lead to weight gain. With any type of rice, it’s always important to eat it in moderation. But with the right choice and adequate serving size, you can enjoy all of the health benefits many varieties of rice have to offer.