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Approximately 20 percent of the calories consumed each day around the world come from rice, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. While it can't meet all your dietary needs, rice does provide significant amounts of minerals, B vitamins and, if you choose unrefined rice, fiber. Opt for brown, black or red rice over refined white rice to get the most nutritional benefits.
Consuming more fiber will help you lower your risk for high cholesterol, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Fiber also helps fill you up while eating fewer calories so it is easier to maintain a healthy weight. Each cup of brown rice provides 3.5 grams of fiber, or 14 percent of the daily value. White rice, on the other hand, only contains about 0.6 gram of fiber per cup.
Eating a 1-cup serving of brown rice will provide you with 22 percent of the DV for magnesium, 15 percent of the DV for phosphorus and 6 percent of the DV for iron. The same amount of white rice contains 15 percent of the DV for iron, but only 6 percent of the DV for magnesium and 7 percent of the DV for phosphorus. Magnesium keeps your nerves, heart, muscles and immune system functioning properly, while phosphorus is essential for strong bones and producing DNA. You need iron for forming the red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout your body.
You need B vitamins for turning food into energy, proper brain and nervous system function and keeping your skin, eyes, liver and hair healthy. Brown rice provides 13 percent of the DV for thiamine and niacin, 15 percent of the DV for vitamin B-6 and 2 percent of the DV for folate in each serving. White rice is often enriched with B vitamins, so a serving contains 21 percent of the DV for thiamine, 17 percent of the DV for niacin, 45 percent of the DV for folate and 2 percent of the DV for vitamin B-6.
While rice is generally low in fat, with brown rice containing 1.6 grams and white rice containing 0.4 gram per cup, up to half of the fat it contains is in the form of phospholipids, according to an article published in "Food Chemistry" in August 2013. These fats may help with the control of Type 2 diabetes due to the way they affect the physical characteristics and digestibility of the starch in rice.
While rice can be a nutritious part of your diet, it shouldn't be the only grain you consume. It is one of the grains that absorbs the highest amounts of arsenic from the soil and water, so eating very high amounts of this grain may increase your risk for cancer and other health problems. An article published in "Consumer Reports" in November 2012 noted that many types of rice and rice products in the supermarket contain worrying levels of arsenic, so you should limit your consumption of most rice products to one to three servings per week.