Eating Rice Boosts Diet Quality, Reduces Body Weight

Adults who consume rice were shown to also have a better overall diet quality along with higher consumption of key nutrients, such as potassium, magnesium, iron, folate and fiber while eating less saturated fat and added sugars, according to a new study published in the journal Food and Nutrition Sciences.

ARLINGTON, Va.—Adults who consume rice were shown to also have a better overall diet quality along with higher consumption of key nutrients, such as potassium, magnesium, iron, folate and fiber while eating less saturated fat and added sugars, according to a new study published in the journal Food and Nutrition Sciences.

Researchers analyzed the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) datasets from 2005-2010 and evaluated the association of rice consumption with overall diet quality and key nutrient intakes in a nationally representative sample of 14,386 U.S. adults.

"Our results show that adults who eat rice had diets more consistent with what is recommended in the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, and they showed higher amounts of potassium, magnesium, iron, folate and fiber while eating less saturated fat and added sugars," said lead author Theresa Nicklas of Baylor College of Medicine. "Eating rice is also associated with eating more servings of fruit, vegetables, meat and beans," she added.

Americans enjoy some 27 pounds of enriched white and brown rice per person per year with the majority (70%) of rice consumption coming from enriched white rice. Americans eat a variety of grain-based foods, but rice stands out because it is eaten primarily as an intact grain that is naturally sodium free and has only a trace amount of fat, with no saturated fat. Consumers can control adding fat, salt and flavors at their discretion.

This research builds on two previously published studies that showed the positive contribution of rice to diet quality. A 2009 observational study using NHANES datasets and Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals (CSFII), found that rice eaters consumed significantly less fat and saturated fat and consumed more iron, potassium, fiber, meat, vegetables and grains. A follow-up study in 2010, also using NHANES datasets, included children in the study group and further confirmed that rice consumption was associated with greater intake of a range of healthier foods and nutrients.

Brown rice and other whole grains—whether familiar whole wheat or so-called ancient grains, such as quinoa, amaranth and spelt—are becoming a popular way to add health and appeal to everything from bread to breakfast cereal to soup, and can even create some gluten-free products. In the Food Product Design FoodTech Toolbox, the Gallery: Whole and Ancient Grains: From Amaranth to Zizania delves into what makes these grains special, including their nutritional value.

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