Exposing Rice Myths: 15 Common Misconceptions

Rice cartoon and rice bowl on green background

If I say the word “rice”, you certainly know what it is. Rice is a grain crop that is a staple food source for billions of people across the globe. It’s a filling meal, has a good nutrient profile (if you make the right choices), and tastes great with a wide variety of dishes. But what else is there to know about rice? There’s actually quite a lot, and while you do your research, you will undoubtedly be confronted with a bunch of myths about rice. Unbeknown to many people, a lot of these myths have been debunked. 

If you have found yourself believing any of the below statements, rest assured that they are little more than myths. And what’s more, is that it is ever so easy to debunk these myths. You could do a bit of online research yourself into each of these myths, but I have actually done all of the hard work for you. If you would like to know how these myths are debunked, read on. 

Myths are a tough one to bust because they typically sound so believable. When someone tells you that rice is fattening, it might make a lot of sense to you, and so you believe it. Now is the time to put myths to bed. Let’s learn the real truth about rice and the lies about the myths. There’s a list of common rice myths begging to be debunked, and below, I do just that. Let the debunking begin!

15 myths about rice that have been debunked:

1. Rice is fattening.

Many people believe that if you eat rice regularly, you will definitely put on unwanted weight. Rice, in itself, is not fattening. Overindulging in any food type will cause excess calorie intake, which can lead to obesity. Rice itself is not to blame. Rice is actually low in fat and cholesterol-free. It all comes down to how much self-control you have. 

2. The body struggles to digest rice.

Man eating rice

You might not want to eat food that is hard to digest as it can cause discomfort, gas, and bloating. Many people wrongly believe that all rice are quite hard to digest for a wide array of reasons. Most foods that have high fiber content, such as brown rice, might be hard to digest. However, most kinds of rice are low in fiber, making them a candidate for easy digestion

3. Rice is a high-calorie food.

Nobody wants to eat high-calorie foods too regularly. It seems like we are all in a war with calories on a daily basis. Here’s the thing though, rice isn’t high in calories, but rather medium. 1 cup of cooked long-grain brown rice has 216 calories in it. If you eat rice with a balanced portion of low-calorie veggies, it’s not going to help you put on weight at all. 

4. Rice is a carb and not a protein source.

Rice is actually a good source of plant protein – many vegans and vegetarians will tell you this if you ask. 1 cup of cooked rice has about a whopping 5g of protein in it. The protein is easily digested by the body and so readily available. If you are looking to boost your protein intake, opt for a serving of rice with your next meal. 

5. Heavy metals are found in cooked rice. 

Heavy metals are a scary concept, but it is important not to buy into the hype that your rice is going to poison you. Heavy metals can be found in rice, depending on the soil and water conditions that the rice is grown in. However, not all rice is high in heavy metals, and if you choose your rice product wisely, you can avoid potential heavy metal exposure. 

6. Rice is a meal accompaniment. 

Asian woman eating cooked hot rice

Rice is just something that goes with other main meal components, right? Wrong! In fact, that’s never the way it was intended. In the Western world, we see rice as a meal accompaniment, but in Asian countries where rice is actually vastly grown, many see them as much more than that. In many asian countries, people think that rice can be accompanied by any other food. 

7. Diabetes is caused by eating rice. 

Rice is a carbohydrate. When carbs are eaten, the body converts it to glucose, which isn’t good for a diabetic. Rice is not particularly good for a person with diabetes, but it doesn’t mean that it is the cause or that it cannot be eaten by someone with diabetes. Moderation is the key. 

8. Rice contains gluten. 

Many people mistakenly believe that rice has gluten because it is a grain. Luckily, rice is naturally gluten-free and safe for people with gluten sensitivities. 

9. The sodium content in rice is high. 

The sodium content is important because having too much sodium is detrimental to diabetics. Rice gets a bad rap with diabetics, but a large chunk of the information believed is not entirely true. Rice, cooked without salt, is actually low in sodium when compared to a long list of other food sources. One cup of cooked brown long grain rice only has 9.8mg of sodium in it. 

10. Rice can be stored for many years. 

It is true, processed white rice can probably be stored for up to 30 years in a sealed container. However, brown rice – which is rice in its most natural form – can only be stored for up to 6 months as the outer rice grain will start to oxidize thereafter. 

11. Brown rice is way better than white rice. 

It really comes down to what the objective is when eating rice that can determine which rice is “better”. In terms of nutrients, brown rice has more. But when it comes to digestibility, white rice is low in fiber and, therefore, easily digested, whereas brown rice is high in fiber and, thus, harder for the body to digest. For nutrients, brown rice is better. For digestibility, white rice is better. 

Natural white and brown long rice in wood spoons

12. Throwing rice at a wedding will bring prosperity, fertility, and good fortune.

You have probably been to a wedding where guests grab a fistful of rice and fling it into the air when the bride and groom walk back down the aisle together. What does this mean? Apparently, it means that it will bring prosperity, fertility, and good fortune to the couple. While this is a great tradition and one that is well respected, we all know that throwing rice is not going to change the outcome of someone’s (or a couple’s) future. It’s just a nice thing to do. 

13. Eating rice will stop diarrhea. 

This is a myth that is more of a misunderstanding. When someone has an upset stomach, eating rice seems to be the go-to, but it’s not the actual rice that is required. It is the cloudy rice water that actually fixes an upset stomach. To get this right, you need to boil rice like you normally would, but just add some extra water near the end of the cooking process. The leftover white cloudy water should be drunk in order to calm the storms of an upset stomach. 

14. Rice leftovers can give you food poisoning. 

This is another myth that is based on a misunderstanding. If stored properly, rice leftovers won’t give you food poisoning, but if you leave it out on a counter without refrigerating it and then eat it cold, you could get food poisoning. This is because more bacteria can grow on rice when it is left at room temperature for longer than it should. This can happen in a variety of food types, not just rice. 

15. Rice is only a lunch/dinner time food.

If you think rice is only a food for dinner or lunch time, think again. In some countries, rice is a breakfast food too. If you do eat rice at night, do so at least 2 hours before bed so that the body gets a chance to burn off the glucose before you “shut down” for the evening. 

In closing

If you have believed the abovementioned myths in the past, you might be happy that they have finally been busted. Hopefully, these busted myths will give you enough clarity to put the false news aside and delve into a big bowl of delicious, nutritious rice. Just remember: everything in moderation – rice included!

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This article was co-authored by our team of writers and editors who share one thing in common: their passion for food and drinks!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco works as a New York-based editor at Foodrinke, driven by his lifelong love for food. His culinary journey began in childhood, as he eagerly assisted his mother with her local sandwich and bakery business, relishing every opportunity to sample her creations. Known among family and friends as an easy eater, JC has a particular affinity for Chinese, Italian, Mexican, and Peruvian cuisine. At Foodrinke, he channels his passion for food into his work, sharing his enthusiasm and knowledge with readers.