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Health Benefits Of Wild Rice: Why You Shouldn't Miss Out!

Health Benefits Of Wild Rice

Wild rice is an antioxidant-rich whole grain that is great for heart health. The protein and fiber in it keep you full for longer, making it great for weight watchers. Its folate content can help ward off birth defects. Wild rice even has potential in fighting insulin resistance. It is also rich in phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium needed to keep up your bone strength and muscle function. What’s more, it is lower calorie and has a lower glycemic index and load than white rice.

You’ve probably heard that wild rice is a healthier choice than white rice. So if you haven’t yet given it a go, are you missing out? The nutty aroma and textural bite of wild rice are definitely hard to beat. Wild rice is actually a grass with seed heads and not really rice in the conventional sense of the word. It is often classified instead as a pseudograin or seed. That said, it does look like rice and feels a lot like it too.

Wild rice’s wonderful flavor and texture, while unusual, are close enough to regular white rice for you to consider the switch. Do not, however, confuse this with black rice, which is simply a variant of regular rice cultivated mostly in China. Here’s a list of its benefits that you should explore.

Is Gluten-Free, Nutrient-Rich, And Lower In Calories Than White Rice

If you have a gluten allergy or celiac disease or are trying to go gluten-free, wild rice is a delicious change from plain white rice and other substitutes for wheat. A 100 gm serving of cooked wild rice runs to about 101 calories. And you can always scale down how much you’re eating depending on your calorie count for the day. Just use it mixed in with vegetables and a lemony dressing – this will mean fewer carbs and more minerals and vitamins from the fresh produce.1 Compare that to regular white rice that has around 130 calories in a 100 gm serving and doesn’t fare as well as a salad ingredient (because it isn’t as flavorsome) or with less sinful (read: buttered) seasoning.2

Wild rice is also richer in nutrient content because it is usually less processed and, therefore, a whole lot better for you than refined grains and pristine white rice. Potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, as well as B vitamins, folate, vitamin A, are all found in wild rice in larger amounts.

Keeps You Full Longer Through Its Fiber And Protein Content

The interesting thing about wild rice is that a 100 gm portion has nearly 2 gm of fiber.3 Unexpectedly, wild rice also has almost 4 gm of protein as well! Protein and fiber are both known to improve satiety, keeping you full for longer, bite for bite, compared to white rice that your system burns through faster.4 White rice has almost half the quantity of protein (2.38 gm per 100 gm) that wild rice has and no fiber.5

Is Good News For Carb Counters And Weight Watchers

Wild rice certainly isn’t a low carb food. But if a craving for rice does strike you, it could satisfy your hunger and keep you full for longer. You might even manage with a smaller portion because of how filling it is even as you eat it. While wild rice has a lower carb content than rice, it is important to remember that you certainly can’t binge on it! Just be aware of its carb content and plan your meals accordingly so you don’t overdo it. It contains about 21 gm of carbohydrates in 100 gm serving of cooked rice compared to the 28.6 gm of carbs per 100 gm of cooked white rice.6 7

Counters Insulin Resistance And Is A Better Option Than White Rice For Diabetics

The glycemic index (GI) of wild rice is about 45, which is significantly lower than the 70 GI in white rice.8 The glycemic load (GL) of wild rice is 18, putting it in the medium GL range, while white rice like basmati rice with a GL of 28 is a high GL food.9

It might even help alleviate insulin resistance, as studies on animal test subjects have shown. Insulin resistance improved considerably when just half the refined rice and its flour was traded for wild rice in the diet of the test animals.10

Offers Folate Power During Pregnancy And Reduces Birth Defect Risks

Folate, a type of B vitamin, is vital during the early stages of pregnancy and can help prevent birth defects like spina bifida. Having a diet that’s rich in whole grains is one way to up your intake of the nutrient and wild rice is a great addition to the table. You should aim at having about 0.4 mg or 400 micrograms of folic acid every day if you’re of childbearing age, especially if you’re going off birth control.11 Wild rice has 26 micrograms of folate in a 100 gm serving or 43 micrograms in a standard cup-sized serving.12 That means you’d be meeting about 11 percent of your daily folate needs from this one food alone.

Boosts Bone Health Through A Dose Of Phosphorus And Calcium

You’ll find 82 mg of phosphorus and 3 mg of calcium in 100 gm of cooked wild rice. A cup of wild rice, in turn, will give you 134 mg and 5 mg respectively.13 Studies show a link between dietary intake of these nutrients and bone mass.14 Consuming a diet that is supplemented with phosphorus and calcium, alongside exercise, can help increase bone mass and structural strength of the bones, helping improve fracture resistance.15

Fights Free Radical Damage Thanks To Its Antioxidant Capacity

The total phenolic content of wild rice is higher than white rice. In fact, the antioxidant capacity of wild rice, measured in vitro, was 30 times more than the white rice used in one study.16 In another study, the wild rice extract had 10 times more antioxidant activity than the white rice tested.17 While the specifics may vary depending on the brand and how much processing the rice undergoes, wild rice certainly seems to pip white rice to the post.

Antioxidant activity in the body can counter the effect of free radicals that are responsible for aging.18 Consuming a diet rich in fresh produce and whole grains like wild rice helps counter these ill effects of aging. Many experts also believe that free radical scavenging by antioxidants may help lower risk of coronary heart disease, cancers, and stroke.19

Helps Lower Cholesterol And Normalize Insulin And Blood Glucose

Wild rice contains about 2 gm of fiber in a cooked 100 gm portion, adding to your recommended intake of 20 to 35 gm a day as an adult and 5 gm a day for a child. Dietary fiber may help lower your blood cholesterol level, manage blood glucose better, and normalize insulin levels. Which is why fiber is being explored for its role in treating and managing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.20

Fights Fatigue Via Magnesium

Inadequate magnesium can leave you feeling tired and exhausted. The nutrient helps your muscles as well as heart to function properly. And wild rice provides about 10 percent of your target 320–420 mg of magnesium needed daily.21

Use This Versatile Ingredient In Your Meals

Wild rice can be used as a straightforward substitute for white rice or bread in a meal. The challenge for some people is the flavor, which can be an acquired taste. Incorporate it into meals like the ones suggested below to get used to it.

To cook wild rice, just add thrice the quantity of water to the rice and bring it to a boil, after which you should simmer it covered for 45 minutes to an hour until the rice is cooked and the kernels split open. Uncover and cool for a bit before you drain and use in recipes as needed.22

  • Incorporate it in protein-rich and warming recipes like a chicken and wild rice soup.23
  • You could also use it for a hearty yet light meal of wild rice cooked in a broth and dotted with delicious and healthy cranberries and almonds.24
  • Wild rice and mushroom pilaf is a great all-in-one meal and the rice really brings out the umami of the mushrooms.
  • Wild rice with squash salad or roasted butternut squash is another winner.
  • Wild rice salad with pecans, cranberries, and a citrus-olive oil vinaigrette is another fresh, light meal.

References   [ + ]

1, 3, 6, 12, 13. Wild rice, cooked. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
2. Rice, white, medium-grain, cooked, unenriched.United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
4. Chambers, Lucy, Keri McCrickerd, and Martin R. Yeomans. “Optimising foods for satiety.” Trends in food science & Technology 41, no. 2 (2015): 149-160.
5, 7. Rice, white, medium-grain, cooked, unenriched. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
8. Wild Rice with Cranberries and Almonds. American Diabetes Association.
9. The Glycemic Index Diet and Cookbook: Recipes to Chart Glycemic Load and Lose Weight. Healdsburg Press, 2014.
10. Zhang, Hong, Yang Liu, Junhong Zhao, and U. Zhai. “Determination of the glycemic index of the wild rice and the effects of wild rice on insulin resistance in rats.” Wei sheng yan jiu= Journal of hygiene research 44, no. 2 (2015): 173-8.
11. Folic Acid. Office On Women’s Health.
14. Lee, Kyung-Jin, Kyung-Soo Kim, Ha-Na Kim, Jin-A. Seo, and Sang-Wook Song. “Association between dietary calcium and phosphorus intakes, dietary calcium/phosphorus ratio and bone mass in the Korean population.” Nutrition Journal 13 (2014).
15. Friedman, Michael A., Alyssa M. Bailey, Matthew J. Rondon, Erin M. McNerny, Nadder D. Sahar, and David H. Kohn. “Calcium-and phosphorus-supplemented diet increases bone mass after short-term exercise and increases bone mass and structural strength after long-term exercise in adult mice.” PloS one 11, no. 3 (2016): e0151995.
16. Belobrajdic, Damien P., and Anthony R. Bird. “The potential role of phytochemicals in wholegrain cereals for the prevention of type-2 diabetes.” Nutrition Journal 12, no. 1 (2013): 62.
17, 18. Qiu, Yang, Qin Liu, and Trust Beta. “Antioxidant properties of commercial wild rice and analysis of soluble and insoluble phenolic acids.” Food Chemistry 121, no. 1 (2010): 140-147.
19. Antioxidants: Beyond the Hype. Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.
20. Marlett, Judith A., Michael I. McBurney, and Joanne L. Slavin. “Position of the American Dietetic Association: health implications of dietary fiber.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 102, no. 7 (2002): 993-1000.
21. Lack Energy? Maybe It’s Your Magnesium Level. United States Department of Agriculture, AgResearch Magazine.
22. Preparing Wild Rice. California Wild Rice.
23. Chicken and Wild Rice Soup. American Diabetes Association.
24. Wild Rice with Cranberries and Almonds. American Diabetes Association.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.