We eat lots of rice, but a lot of people don’t know what it’s made out of, or if it’s a carb. Global consumption of rice reached 480,000 metric tons in 2017/18, so here are the answers to the 5 most commonly asked questions about rice.

1. Is Rice a Carb?

Yes, is the short answer. Rice is a complex carbohydrate – brown rice is an unrefined complex carb, and white rice is a refined complex carb.

Unrefined carbs, such as are found in brown rice, as good for us. These carbs help to stabilize our blood sugar and insulin levels because our body has to work to digest them. The husk of brown rice contains vitamins, nutrients and fiber, and these can help to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

White rice is a refined carb, because the husk is removed during processing. This husk contains all the nutrients and fiber, so stripping it leaves us with easy to digest carbs. This isn’t so good for our bodies, as refined carbs can lead to blood sugar crashes, and there isn’t much fiber left to help keep our gut healthy.

2. Does Brown or White Rice Contain More Carbs?

Generally, white rice contains a higher number of total carbohydrates than brown rice. The different rices are listed below with the grams of total carbs per serving, but remember that nutritional info can vary from brand to brand.

  • Arborio (risotto) rice: 45g carbs
  • White basmati rice: 41g
  • Brown basmati rice: 33g
  • Long grain white rice: 75g
  • Long grain brown rice: 35g
  • White jasmine rice: 45g
  • Brown jasmine rice: 22g
  • Wild rice: 35g
  • Japanese or sushi rice: 29g
  • White short grain rice: 53g
  • Brown short grain rice: 35g

3. Is Rice Gluten Free?

All rice is gluten free in its natural state, including the white, sticky variety, which is confusingly called glutinous rice. This term refers to the stickiness of the rice, not gluten.

The times when rice may not be gluten free is if it’s sold in a packaged mix, such as pilaf or a packet risotto. These could have extra gluten added to them in other ingredients, so double check the ingredients labels.

4. Does Brown or White Rice Score Higher on the Glycemic Index?

The glycemic index is a measure of ranking carb-containing foods according to their immediate effect on blood sugar levels. The higher the food is listed on the GI index, the quicker they are digested, which means our insulin levels quickly rise.

A low GI is considered to be 55 and under, intermediate is 56-69, and high is 70 and above. Like carb content, GI varies by brand, but here’s a rough guide to give you a general sense:

  • Long grain rice, white – Golden Crown brand: 76 – High GI
  • Medium grain rice, white – Double Ram brand: 89 – High GI
  • Brown rice, general: 66 – Intermediate GI
  • Japonica, short-grain brown rice: 62 – Intermediate GI
  • Japonica, short grain brown rice, pre-germinated – 54 Low GI

5. Can Reheating Rice Cause Food Poisoning?

You can get food poisoning from eating reheated rice, but it’s not the reheating that causes the problem. It comes from the way the rice has been stored before it’s reheated.

Uncooked rice can contain spores of Bacillus cereus, a bacterium that can cause food poisoning, and the spores can survive the cooking process. If rice is left at room temperature after cooking, these spores can grow and multiply. They then produce toxins that can cause vomiting or diarrea. The longer the rice is left out, the more likely it is that the rice will become unsafe to eat.

  • To help avoid this, cool any cooked rice as quickly as possible if you’re not eating it – ideally within one hour.
  • Don’t keep rice in the refrigerator for more than one day before reheating.
  • When you reheat rice, make sure it’s steaming hot all the way through.
  • Don’t reheat rice more than once.