10 Types of Rice: How to Pick the Best Rice for Health?

Nothing says comfort food more than a warm bowl of rice along with our home-cooked vegetable and protein dishes. We grew up eating rice and it is the way of life!

Rice is also a great dinner staple because it can help you sleep better. Rice is also gluten-free just like rice noodles, good news for those with celiac disease!

However, with so many types of rice to choose from in the supermarket, it can be a tough decision. That’s why you have us to help!

Though most people think that white rice is more fattening than brown rice, it mostly comes down to the portion and how the rice is cooked. The best serving size of rice is one cup of cooked rice (about the size of your fist).

Rice grain size matters

rice grain size
Source: catalyst.uw.edu

Different grain size will affect its starchiness, texture and cooking time. Amylose is a starch component that varies depending on the type of rice. Your body will digest rice with a higher amylose content (usually long grain rice like basmati) slower compared to those with a low amylose content (short grain rice like sushi rice) [1]. Here’s how you differentiate the size:

  • Short – Japanese rice. Usually come from the japonica cultivar, it is short, plump and almost round shaped. It has a soft and sticky texture when cooked.
  • Medium – Arborio rice. Mostly come from indica varieties or indica-japonica hybrids and has a shorter and rounder shape than long grains. Once cooked it’s not as soft and sticky as sushi rice but it  has a tender texture and clings together.
  • Long – Basmati rice. Majority long rice grains are from the indica cultivar and it has a long, slender shape. It separates easily and has a light and fluffy texture after cooking.

Which rice has the lowest Glycemic Index (GI)?

Rice generally has high GI but different types of rice will have a different GI levels. Brown rice is one type which has a lower GI level (about 55) so your body will digest it slower and it won’t cause a blood sugar spike compared to white rice (about 65) [2]. But long, white basmati rice might have a lower GI than the typical brown rice so the shorter the grain, the higher its GI which would not be good for the weight watchers [3].

Now that you know that the shape of the rice kernel plays a big role on how much carbs it contains, let’s get into the 10 different types of rice you can find in the market:

1. White 

white rice
Source: www.livestrong.com
  • The outer husk and bran layer is polished off to give a softer texture to the rice but it loses some nutrients during the process.
  • Comes in short (242 calories), medium (242 calories) and long grains (205 calories).
  • Does not contain much fiber and protein so it’s best to have it with a good balance of vegetables and protein.
  • Enriched white rice have some added nutrients to compensate the ones that was lost during its polishing process so it’s best to not wash this type of rice before cooking.
  • Parboiled white rice contains more nutritional value than the usual white rice because it has been boiled during the milling process which helps retain some of its nutrients.
  • White rice is great after a tough workout because it helps to replenish the lost sugar and carbohydrates.

2. Brown

brown rice
Source: www.chow.com
  • Brown rice is an unpolished grain with only its hull removed so it has its nutrient-filled bran layer still intact which makes it a healthier option compared to white rice.
  • This whole grain comes in long (216 calories) and medium-short (218 calories) grain.
  • A good source of magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, thiamin, niacin and vitamin B6, and an awesome source of manganese (it can provide up to 88% of the daily intake).
  • Helps to lower cholesterol, risk of cancer and diabetes.
  • Not as popular as white rice because it has a chewier, nutty texture, longer cook-time and shorter shelf-life.

3. Red

red rice
Source: www.buzzoop.com
  • Similar to brown rice as it is a whole grain with just its hull removed. Nutritionally, it is just as good as brown rice.
  • It has about 200 calories and comes in long and medium grain.
  • The red hue comes from an antioxidant called anthocyanins, which are also found in purple cabbage and strawberries. Anthocyanins can help to reduce inflammation, allergy, prevent risks of cancer and lower cholesterol.
  • Has a softer texture than brown rice, a nutty, earthy flavour, and contains a good amount of iron.
  • Pick this over brown rice if you are watching your weight.

4. Black

black rice
Source: flavorexplosions.com
  • Also known as ‘forbidden rice’ because it was grown and served just for the emperors in China ages ago.
  • Turns into a purple colour and has 200 calories once cooked and it has more health benefits than brown and red rice combined.
  • Rich in fibre, antioxidants, phytonutrients, phytochemicals, Vitamin E, protein, iron, and more nutrients.
  • If you have heart problems, high blood pressure and diabetes, this rice is your best option.

5. Jasmine

jasmine rice
Source: www.wisegeek.com
  • A medium to long grain that is aromatic and light that can come in white and brown versions.
  • It has a soft, slighty sticky texture and it’s about 205 calories.
  • A good source of vitamin B.
  • Go for the brown variety if you want more nutrients.

6. Basmati

basmati rice
Source: www.inpursuitofthepalate.com
  • A very long grain that is fragrant and light that can come in white and brown versions.
  • It stays separated after cooking and a bowl is about 190 calories.
  • Usually eaten with curries and as a base for pilafs.
  • Go for the brown variety to reap more health benefits.

7. Japanese

japanese rice
Source: food52.com
  • A short, almost round grain that is usually used for sushi because it is sticky and has a glassy look once it’s cooked.
  • Though it has a high amount of calories (about 298 calories), it can help you to sleep better at night.
  • There are 3 major varieties including Koshihikari, Sasanishiki, and Hatsunishiki.

8. Glutinous

glutinous rice
Source: www.stephanielaw.org
  • Known as sticky rice and sweet rice, it comes in short and long grain varieties.
  • Generally it is about 169 calories and you can get in it white and black. It becomes sticky and gelatinous when it’s cooked.
  • It has selenium, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus which helps muscle, nerve, thyroid and immune function.
  • It is very low in fiber and most glutinous rice is used in desserts so eating too much glutinous desserts won’t be good for you either.

9. Wild

wild rice
Source: www.wisegeek.org
  • Technically it is not a grain, it is a seed from a marsh grass.
  • A cup of cooked wild rice has 166 calories and has a chewy texture and smoky, nutty flavor.
  • It takes up to 60 minutes to cook, so make it in a big batch. You can try to soak it overnight, which can shorten the cooking time by 30%.
  • High in protein, fiber and low in fat.
  • A great rice replacement if you are trying to lose weight, because it is lower in calories and carbs compared to other rice.

10. Arborio Rice

arborio rice
Source: www.theverdantlife.com
  • A medium, round and starchy Italian rice (about 242 calories) that is mostly used in risottos and sometimes pilafs and rice puddings.
  • Usually takes a while to cook by adding broth into the pot numerous times to the rice until it has a creamy and chewy texture.
  • It has a decent amount of protein which could help you bulk up muscles.


  • Best to go for brown, red, black, and wild rice which have longer grains if you are looking for a healthier option.
  • Sticking to just a cup of cooked rice a day will help to not add more to the weighing scale.
  • Be sure to have them with some vegetables and protein dishes to get a complete meal.

Try out these recipes with the different types of rice and let us know the results!


Which is your favourite rice? Share your rice tales with us in the comments below or on our Facebook page!

Source: USA Rice Federation, The Nibble, Huffington Post, Ricepedia, Food Service Warehouse, Quick and Dirty Tips, Whole Grains Council, Cooking Light, New Health Guide, Live Science, Livestrong, The Health Watcher, NDTV Food, The Health Site

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