What to Know About Rice Cake Nutrition

Medically Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on July 10, 2023
3 min read

Rice cakes are a popular snack that has become a pantry staple. They’re low-fat and can carry various toppings to make them tastier. By themselves, they are a dry, crispy snack. 

These snacks are made from puffed rice pressed together to form a circular cake. While it’s a simple snack, there’s more to know about the health effects of rice cakes. Read on to find out if you should keep these snacks in your pantry or include them as your in-between snacks.

The health benefits of rice cakes have been the subject of some debate. One plain unsalted brown rice cake has: 

  • 35 calories
  • 7.3 grams carbohydrates
  • 0.7 grams protein
  • 0.4 grams fiber
  • 0.3 milligrams manganese
  • 0.7 milligrams niacin
  • 32.4 milligrams phosphorus
  • 11.8 milligrams magnesium
  • 2.2 micrograms selenium

Rice cakes are healthier when they’re made of brown rice. Rice grain is a good source of carbohydrates and proteins. Whole brown rice has more nutrients like protein, lipids, minerals, and vitamins than refined white rice, because they’re stripped away during the refining process. 

But most refined rice cakes might not be more than carbohydrates with little nutrition. Because they’re low in calories, they might seem healthy, which could make you want to eat more of them. Try to eat them in moderation, and add nutrients with healthy toppings. 

Rice cakes have their pros and cons. 

Easy snack. Rice cakes are a good mini-snack to hold you over in between meals. Eating frequent small snacks can give you the energy to stay active and maintain good health. A healthy snack, like a rice cake with nut butter, can be a filling in-between snack. 

Better diet quality. Eating brown rice regularly is great for your fiber intake. A rice cake made from brown rice can be healthier for you. 

Glucose regulation. The nutrients in brown rice have been shown to regulate blood glucose. 

High glycemic index. A food’s glycemic index rating tells you about its effects on blood sugar. Rice cakes are a high glycemic index food, along with things like crackers, bagels, cakes, doughnuts, croissants, and white bread. Eating a lot of these foods may raise your risk of some health conditions.

Other concerns. Certain rice cakes, like those coated in chocolate, have a lower nutritional value. They can be high in fat, saturated fat, and sugar. Choosing a plain brown rice cake and topping it with fruit or nutritional nut butter can be healthier and more filling. 

Here are some healthy options to liven up a plain rice cake.

Turkey BLT. Add slices of turkey bacon, lettuce, tomato, and cheese spread on your rice cake for protein. 

Cottage cheese and avocado. Top with ¼ cup of cottage cheese and sliced avocado. Cottage cheese is a good source of protein, and avocado has good fat.

Tuna salad. Mix ½ cup of tuna with 1 tablespoon of mayo. Add a leaf of lettuce on top for some greens.

Nut butter. A peanut butter powder mixed with water, cashew butter, and almond butter are good sources of protein.

Hummus and cucumber. Topping with 2 tablespoons of hummus and ½ cup of sliced cucumbers is a healthy way to add flavor to your rice cake. Hummus is a good source of protein and fiber.

Greek yogurt and berries. If you prefer sweets, try ¼ cup of plain Greek yogurt and a handful of raspberries, blueberries, or sliced strawberries. Greek yogurt is a good source of protein. You can also add a dollop of honey to make it even sweeter.