Ingredient of the Week: Rice

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Ingredient of the Week: Rice

Ingredient of the week: Rice  (Oryza sativa)

  • Rice is one of the oldest cereal grains in the world; it has been grown for at least 5,000 years.
  • Rice is the staple food from more than half of the world’s population.
  • There are a thousand types of rice.
  • Many other products are made from rice including rice flour and rice milk. (If using rice milk make sure it is fortified with calcium).


  • Rice is mainly carbohydrate with a small amount of protein. When cooked 70 % of the weight of rice is water.  Most of the carbohydrate in rice is starch which is made up of two types of long chains of glucose – amylose and amylopectin.  Different types of rice have different amounts of these which cause them to have different properties and textures.  It also affects how long it takes for the body to digest the rice.  Rice high in amylose is digested more slowly – this includes basmati rice.  This is why basmati rice and easy cook rice are low glycaemic index foods.
  • Brown rice has slightly more fibre than white rice, and more vitamins and minerals but the benefits of the low glycaemic index of basmati rice often outweigh the benefits of the fibre in brown rice.
  • Rice also contains a type of starch called butyrate which is good for gut health.

How can you use rice?

  • Rice can be simply served as the starch food at a meal – e.g. chilli and rice.
  • Make a rice salad.
  • Use it to stuff vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes or mushrooms.
  • Look online for recipe ideas like the BBC Food website

Top tips

  • You can get ready cooked rice and mixes or rice and other grains such as quinoa which just need microwaving. (Use in all kinds of recipes).
  • Rice can contain a bacteria called Bacillus cereus.  Serve rice immediately it is cooked, cool any unused rice quickly and keep in the fridge.    Use it within a day and do not reheat more than once.

Produced by Claire Fenlon and Fiona Wilcock 2020