Parboiled Rice: Are There Health Benefits?

Parboiled rice, also known as converted rice, is a partially precooked rice that has been common is Asian and African countries for a number of years. Parboiling happens when you soak, steam, and dry rice while it’s still in its inedible outer husk. This turns the rice inside a slightly yellow hue. 

Parboiling rice makes it easier to remove the husk of the rice before eating it. The process also improves the texture of the rice, making it fluffier and less sticky when you cook it than regular white rice. However, one question remains: is parboiled rice good for you? Let’s examine the potential health benefits and risks of eating parboiled rice. 

Nutrition Information

A 155 gram cup serving of parboiled long grain white rice contains: 

Parboiled rice is also a source of iron and calcium

Compared to white rice, parboiled rice has fewer calories, fewer carbohydrates, more fiber, and more protein. This makes it a healthier alternative to traditional white rice. 

Potential Health Benefits of Parboiled Rice

Parboiling rice changes the rice at a molecular level. Overall, parboiling rice increases its nutritional benefits. Let’s take a look at some of the health benefits of parboiled rice. 

Improved Gut Health

The starch in parboiled rice acts as a prebiotic, meaning that it acts as a sort of fertilizer and encourages the growth of healthy bacteria, or probiotics, in your gut. Having the right balance of microorganisms in your gut can impact everything from your health to your mood, so eating foods containing prebiotics can be extremely beneficial to your overall health. 

Reduced Diabetes Symptoms

Studies suggest that, in comparison to both white rice and brown rice, parboiled rice has a lower impact on blood sugar levels, making it a safer choice for people with diabetes than other rices. This may be especially true if you refrigerate leftover parboiled rice and then eat the leftovers, as storing parboiled rice in cold temperatures may further reduce the impact it has on your blood sugar levels.

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Potential Risks of Parboiled Rice

Parboiled rice is generally safe to eat in normal quantities. However, any food can become dangerous if eaten in large amounts. Although parboiled rice is healthier than white rice, it is not the healthiest grain on the market, and there are a number of healthier alternatives to parboiled rice you can choose from to mix up your diet. 

Arsenic Levels

Like all rice, parboiled rice contains levels of inorganic arsenic. Eating large amounts of rice can lead to toxic levels of arsenic in your bloodstream, which can be particularly harmful for young children. 

There are ways to reduce the amount of arsenic you ingest when you eat parboiled rice. Rinsing your rice in clean water and cooking your rice thoroughly can help remove some of the arsenic from your rice. 

However, it’s still important to limit your rice intake to seven or fewer servings per week. The easiest way to do this is to mix up your grains and eat a variety of foods throughout the course of the week. 

Healthier Alternatives

Although parboiled rice is a healthier alternative to traditional white rice, it is not the healthiest grain on the market today. Healthier alternatives to parboiled rice include brown rice, quinoa, barley, and buckwheat. 

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on September 25, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Cell Phisiol. Biochem.: “Resistant Starch Regulates Gut Microbiota: Structure, Biochemistry and Cell Signalling.”

Consumer Reports: “Which Rice Has the Least Arsenic?”

Environmental Pollution: “Inorganic arsenic levels in baby rice are of concern.”

Healthline: “What Is Parboiled Rice, and Is It Healthy?”

Foods: “The Effect of Cold Treatment of Parboiled Rice with Lowered Glycaemic Potency on Consumer Liking and Acceptability.”

Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: “Impact of browning reactions and bran pigments on color of parboiled rice.”

Journal of Food Engineering: “Parboiled Rice: Understanding from a Materials Science Approach.”

Mayo Clinic: “Prebiotics, Probiotics, and Your Health.” 

Nutrition: “Parboiled rice metabolism differs in healthy and diabetic individuals with similar improvement in glycemic response.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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