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Rice enjoys a popularity similar to wheat. In Asia, it's the main grain. It is much less nutrient dense than wheat, being lower in protein, fiber, iron, folic acid, calcium, zinc, vitamin E, and B- vitamins. Rice's claim to fame is that it contains the most carbohydrates, which makes rice a popular energy food in many cultures. Because of its easy taste and digestibility, the rice-lover can make up for rice's lower nutritional quality by eating more quantity. Rice is much more palatable than some of the more nutritious grains that overpower the senses with their taste and aroma. Also, rice is one of the more intestinal-friendly grains. Since it is low in fiber and gluten- free, it is often the grain of choice for persons, especially infants, recovering from diarrheal illnesses or who are gluten sensitive.
White rice. The processing that refines natural brown rice into the white stuff, removes many of the nutrients, similar to what the milling factories do in disassembling wheat. Brown rice is much higher than white (even the enriched variety) in the following nutrients: protein, fiber, zinc, folic acid, vitamin E, B-vitamins, and calcium. Brown rice has over fifteen times the amount of vitamin E as white rice. As with so many food tradeoffs, white rice is more popular than brown because it is blander and quicker to cook. White rice belongs in the same nutritional category as white bread.
Brown rice. Brown rice is much higher than white (even the enriched variety) in the following nutrients: protein, fiber, zinc, folic acid, vitamin E, B vitamins, and calcium. Brown rice has over fifteen times the amount of vitamin E as white rice.
Wild rice. Botanically, not really a grain but rather a grass, wild rice is much more nutritious than even brown rice, being much higher in protein, zinc, folic acid, and vitamin E. Not only is wild rice much more nutritious than white and somewhat more nutritious than brown, it has a texture and flavor that far surpasses any other form of rice, accounting for its popularity in finer restaurants. Once considered a delicacy, it is now so widely available that for the nutritionally-minded person it is really the healthiest form of rice. Wild rice has gotten an unfair rap by being dubbed "too expensive." Not true. After cooking, it swells to 3 or 4 times its initial volume, so a little wild rice goes a long way. One cup of dried wild rice becomes three or four cups of rice on the plate, enough for six to eight servings.
Rice terms. Besides white, brown, and wild, there are other terms that you will see associated with rice that have more to do with taste, appearance, and mode of preparation than with nutritional differences.