Lily Chong
Lily Chong, B.Sc. Nutrition and Food Science, University of Alberta

Rice in general is actually quite unhealthy for you. I’m not saying we shouldn’t eat it, because it is delicious! But it needs to be eaten in moderation.

Rice has a high Glycemic Index (as in, it breaks down into sugars almost immediately upon eating). On the website I linked, if you scroll down, you’ll see plain rice is in the highest glycemic category. Foods with high glycemic indexes are dangerous because upon consumption, they cause in a quick spike in your blood sugar. This results in your body storing the sugar instead of breaking it down, which then results into sugar storage (because there is so much), which means it is turning the sugars into fat. Abuse of high-spikes in blood sugar for long periods of time results in major fat storage, and can also put you at risk for major health issues such as Type II Diabetes.

You’ll see rice is in the same category as potatoes, french fries, soda crackers, and white bread. Sugar doesn’t just = sweet things. It’s potatoes, rice, and all easily broken down starch foods. The main offender: Fruit Juice. So many people give children fruit juice thinking it’s healthy, but it is pure sugar – it’s the main reason why our children are facing type II diabetes in grade school.

This is, I believe, a huge factor as to why to Asian population being so susceptible to type II diabetes – they consume a high amount of rice in their diets. It’s like eating sugar for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Sugar and simple carbohydrates (like white bread and rice) are the unhealthiest components in the North American diet, and it’s everywhere. Sugar is hiding in all foods (yoghurt, ketchup, bbq sauce, teriyaki sauces (all sauces really), cereals, simple vegetables like carrots & potatoes), white bread, crackers, etc.

That’s why it’s a bit backwards when we advertise candy and other food products as ‘fat free’. Fat is actually not the component we should be nearly as concerned about, as it has a low glycemic index. Sugar is still present in those products, which spike your blood sugar, resulting in fat storage anyways.

Fat free is a whole other ordeal in our society. To make anything fat-free, they need to pump it full of additives, which is the component you’re alluding to with the fear of carcinogenics in your foods. So, on your next coffee break, don’t feel so bad if you want real cream or an extra cream in your coffee – it’s the extra sugar packet and fat-free creamer that’s causing the most damage.

If you’re going to eat rice though, making rice from scratch is the healthiest as it won’t contain sodium or preservatives (most of the time, pre-cooked rices like Uncle Ben’s will have a high sodium content to prevent spoiling).

UNCLE BEN’S® Instant Rice will have 0g of sodium, whereas pre-cooked rice pilaf UNCLE BEN’S® READY RICE® Rice Pilaf in a package contains 740mg of sodium. It also contains another 20 additive ingredients which are all linked to preservatives. Regular rice doesn’t have anything but rice, added iron and thiamin (b-vitamin).

I would say stay away from pre-cooked rice and low fat options (they are full of preservatives and additives, which are the components you fear are carcinogenic).

If you’re going to eat anything, enjoy the real thing, but in moderation.