A-Z of super foods: Rice

A-Z of super foods: Rice

Rice is a store-cupboard staple for most of us. It is also the food eaten by most of the planet, and has been for thousands of years. Easy to cook, suitable for all and goes with most foods - it’s no wonder we all love rice. But how much do you know about it?


The rice we eat is the seed of a variety of grass, grown in warm climates with plenty of water.

Just as black and green tea come from the same plant, brown and white rice are the same thing. The difference is in how the rice is processed. All rice is initially processed to remove the outer husk, but white rice goes through a second stage to remove the inner husk which contains the bran and germ.

Brown rice is therefore higher in fibre, especially insoluble fibre which is believed to be good for digestive health. All rice is completely gluten-free and so safe for coeliacs to enjoy. Rice provides protein, a small amount of fat and traces of various vitamins and minerals.


First, choose your grain. The shorter the grain, the more starch and the stickier the result. So use short grain for sushi, medium grain for risotto and paella and long grain for drier results. Then decide if you want brown or white.

Finally, choose your variety. You can either have ‘standard’ long or short grain, or perhaps one of these:

  • Basmati is a particular type of long grain rice from the Himalayas, and is an essential for Indian cooking.
  • Jasmine or Thai fragrant rice is another type of long grain, but the grains are shorter than Basmati. The rice has a faint aroma.
  • Wild Rice comes from North America and China, and has an unusual nutty flavour.


This is definitely a matter for discussion, because everyone has their own tried and trusted method. You can use a saucepan with a lid, a rice cooker or a microwave. The top tip is that there’s no need to buy individual packets. Big bags of rice work out much more economical.

There are two big questions for rice cooking:

  • Wash or not? Washing your rice removes excess starch and makes it easier to get fluffy results. But it also washes away nutrients, and if you keep an eye on the rice while it cooks you can get it just to your satisfaction.
  • How much water? This is another thorny topic! You can use the absorption method, which uses all the water. Alternatively cook rice with boiling water, keep a close eye on it and drain it at the right moment.

Finally, there’s no excuse for rice boredom. Try this recipe for Persian Jewelled Rice. A treat for the eyes as well as the tastebuds! It will remind you why the planet loves rice.


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The Author

Jessica Ward

Jessica lives in South West London. Boxercise, yoga, pilates, weight training and long distance running are her main interests.


Mike D.
10 December 2015

Mike D.

Sasha, you are thinking of the paleo diet where only pre-industrial revolution foods are eaten. We are supposedly not meant to have evolved enough yet for our digestion to properly process rice, but white rice is meant to be slightly easier to cope with. Personally, I have no issue with either type of rice and would hate to exclude them from my diet.

Sasha B.
9 December 2015

Sasha B.

I love rice, but am confused over which is better. I have read that white rice is actually much more easily digested and wholegrain rice has -'anti-nutrients' which actually make it less nutritious.

Sarah L.
5 December 2015

Sarah L.

have to admit that I like my basmati white, just seems better with chilli and curry. That recipe looks amazing, will have to try it.

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