Jasmine Rice: Is It Good for You?

In over 100 countries, rice is a prominent nutritional source that is served with a variety of flavorful dishes. Jasmine rice, also known as Thai fragrant rice, is an aromatic “long-grain” rice where each grain is about four times as long as it is wide. 

Jasmine rice comes in a variety of colors. White jasmine rice, in particular, is largely processed and has more nutritional similarities to white rice than to brown jasmine rice. Jasmine rice also comes in black, purple, and red varieties, each with slightly different nutritional profiles. Be sure to read the nutritional label of the jasmine rice you’re cooking for the most accurate nutritional information. 

Adding jasmine rice to your diet can offer you health benefits. However, there are also a few risks that you should watch out for.

Nutrition Information

One ¼ cup serving of brown jasmine rice contains: 

Like most whole grain rice, brown jasmine rice is rich in nutrients, including v itamin B1, v itamin B6, m agnesium, p hosphorus, s elenium, and m anganese

Potential Health Benefits of Jasmine Rice

Because rice is a staple food in many countries, scientists have focused a lot of energy on researching how different rices affect the human body. Jasmine rice offers a number of health benefits such as:

Improved Immune System

Colorful varieties of jasmine rice, including red, purple, and blue, are packed with phytonutrients. Phytonutrients help protect your body’s cells, improving your immune system and overall health.

Promotes Healthy Pregnancy

Jasmine rice is packed with folic acid. Folic acid has been linked to promoting healthy pregnancies, especially when taken before pregnancy and within the first trimester. Specifically, regular folic acid intake has been linked to reduced levels of birth defects and neural tube defects. This makes jasmine rice a healthy choice while trying to conceive and during pregnancy. 

Supports Digestive Health

Brown jasmine rice has a higher fiber content than white jasmine rice. Brown rice is less processed which means that fiber and nutrients remain intact. Dietary fiber normalizes bowel movements and helps maintain your digestive health.

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Potential Risks of Jasmine Rice

Despite being a staple food in many cultures, eating jasmine rice doesn’t come without its risks. Risks associated with this rice include:

Blood Sugar Spikes

Like all rices, jasmine rice is relatively high on the glycemic index. Even brown jasmine rice can cause your blood sugar levels to spike, which may cause complications for people with Type II diabetes

Arsenic Levels

Arsenic is a toxic heavy metal found in soil, rock, and water. It has been found that arsenic builds up in rice at 10 times the rate it builds up in other grains since rice is grown in water-flooded fields. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently does not have a limit on how much arsenic can be in foods, meaning arsenic levels can build up quickly without consequence to the sellers. This can be especially dangerous to children. To lessen the amount of arsenic in your rice, be sure to wash the rice thoroughly before cooking it. 

Healthier Alternatives

Brown jasmine rice or colored jasmine rice varieties are healthy alternatives to white jasmine rice. However, these options aren’t the healthiest grains you can choose. Other grains that have lower arsenic levels while still providing key nutrients to your body include quinoa, millet, bulgur, and amaranth. 

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on October 17, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

British Journal of Nutrition: “Effects of the brown rice diet on visceral obesity and endothelial function: the BRAVO study.”

Foods: “Health-Promoting Compounds in Pigmented Thai and Wild Rice.”

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: “Rice.”

International Conference on Biology Environment and Chemistry: “Influence of Degree of Milling on Chemical Compositions and Physicochemical Properties of Jasmine Rice.”

Journal of Food Science Technology: “Status in physical properties of coloured rice varieties before and after inducing retro-gradation.”

Mayo Clinic: “Folate (Folic Acid).”

Mayo Clinic: Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet.”

USDA FoodData Central: “Brown Jasmine Rice.”

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