Is Rice A Vegetable? Are You Consuming Rice In A Healthy Amount?

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Rice is a staple food that has been cooked into world-popular dishes like sushi, curry, kimbap, sake, mochi and appears daily in many home kitchens, especially in Asian and African countries. To more than 3.5 billion people in the world, water, air, fire, and rice are equally important. 

However, as rice is so integrated into our lives, we might just think of rice as rice, but not really give a second thought about its texture, usage, and nutritional value.

Have you ever questioned: ‘Is rice a vegetable, a seed, or a grain?’ How much rice should we eat? How many dishes can we make out of rice rather than just basic boiled white rice we daily cook?’’

If you come to this article, we guess that you might have wondered the same thing. Therefore, in this article, we will provide you with a brief ‘rice inquiry’. 

How Popular Is rice? 

Rice is a quick, affordable, and abundant fiber source that provides energy to the body. Rice is the most essential food crop of half the world’s population, especially in Asia. Therefore, one-fifth of the world depends on growing rice to make ends meet.

Rice loves wet environments! Therefore, you might see that global rice producers are mainly from Asia, where the weather perfectly suits its growth. 

As popular as it has become, rice is more than just a staple food to fulfill our hunger. In many developing countries, rice availability means political stability. Rice also plays a holy part in the culture of rice-farming societies like Japan, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, and China. It is the symbol of abundance, collaboration, and fertility. Consuming and planting rice habits somehow shape the beliefs and lifestyles of people in those countries. Therefore, we should treat rice with respect when eating it. 

How popular is rice?. Source: Nguyen Quang Vinh

Is Rice A Vegetable?

Let’s first consider the definition of vegetable!

According to the World Vegetable Center, vegetables are “mostly herbaceous annual plants of which some portion is eaten, either cooked or raw, during the principal part of the meal to complement starchy food and other food items’’. 

Rice is a herbaceous annual plant, and yes, we can eat some portion of it. However, it is just weird to say that rice is a vegetable because rice is too hard to be eaten raw like other vegetables. Also, rice is a starchy food. During a meal, rice is considered as the foundation, and people eat other tasteful food to complement its starchy texture. 

As compared to the most accurate definition, we see that rice does not match all the qualities that contribute to the ‘veggie’ definition. Therefore, ‘is rice a vegetable?’ Hmmm, we don’t really think so! 

Is rice a vegetable? Source: Vergie A 

Also, according to the healthy eating pyramid, rice does not belong to the fruit & vegetable category, but the whole grains & bread & beans & legumes &nuts, and & seeds. 

As people also ask the same question for wheat, ‘is wheat a vegetable?’. Just like rice, wheat is not a vegetable and belongs in the last category in the nutritious pyramid.

Rice in the food pyramid. Source: School of Public Health – Harvard University

Is Rice Seed Or Grain? 

Besides asking ‘’is rice a vegetable?’’, many people are still confused ‘’is rice a seed or grain?’’ since they are all tiny kernels resulting from the sexual reproduction of plants.

 In fact, we still have trouble with telling the difference between grain and seed. So here is your botanical cheat sheet: seeds grow separately inside the fruits. They contain an embryo and can germinate to produce a new plant. Meanwhile, grains are the seed of grasses and grow in clusters at the top of mature plants.

Given your daily observation, which one do you think rice belongs to? 

Well, rice fits in perfectly with the definition of grains. Therefore, ‘’is rice a seed or grain?’’ Definitely grain!

Is rice seed or grain? Source: Alleksana

How Much Rice Should You Eat Per Day?

Rice is very rich in carbohydrates – the main fuel for our body. It keeps you energetic and active throughout the working day. Moreover, eating brown rice provides you with many necessary nutrients such as fiber, selenium, manganese, and B vitamins.  Therefore, rice is suggested to be consumed daily. 

However, you should consume rice in the right portion depending on your body’s needs and what else you are eating. One cup of raw rice (210-220 grams) will be doubled in size after cooking. Nutritionists suggest that one person needs one cup of cooked rice per serving, especially when rice is your only source of carbohydrates.  

The amount of rice you should eat per day also depends on which kind of rice you eat, white rice or brown rice. According to nutritionists, brown rice is way healthier than the white type because brown rice includes the nutritious germ, fibrous bran, and carb-rich endosperm. 

However, it is chewy and a bit time-consuming to be fully cooked. If you consider eating brown rice, cooking half a cup (100-110 grams) per meal is good enough. White rice has all the nutritious parts removed. Therefore, there are not many nutrients left. But it is easier and quicker to cook. 

What Happens If You Eat Too Much Rice?

First, you might experience drowsiness after eating rice. Because when insulin produced by rice increases, it prompts tryptophan – the essential fatty acid that produces big amounts of melatonin and serotonin. These are the two calming hormones that can make one feel drowsy. 

Second, overeating rice, especially white rice, is not recommended by nutritionists as mentioned earlier. It provides you with too much carbohydrates but not enough Vitamin C, contributing to obesity, diabetes Type 2, and cardiovascular disease. 

Types Of Rice And Tips On How You Should Cook Them 

Types of rice and tips on how to cook them. Source: Polina Tankilevich

Long-grain Rice

You won’t have trouble trying to recognize this kind of rice. It is three to five times its width and quite thin compared to other common rice. Nutritionists highly recommend we use aromatic basmati, the one that is planted in the Himalayas, or American-grown Carolina Gold, and jasmine rice. 

It is gummy, green, grassy fragrant, and low in starch content. Long-grain rice can be pretty sweet and savory when you cook it in coconut milk instead of plain water. Sound yummy right? For a tasty dessert, consider the coconut-cooked rice with apple sauce, ground allspice, and maple syrup. It won’t disappoint you at all! 

If you only have a bit of time and no coconut milk, here is your guide to cooking perfect boiled long-grain rice:

You will need 450g of basmati rice and a pinch of salt.

Step 1: Briefly rinse the rice under tapping water. Then put it in a pan and pour cold water in. Leave it there for at least 30 minutes. 

Step 2: Drain the rice and pour the soaking water out. Then put 585ml fresh water into the pan and a pinch of salt. Turn the heat on but keep it medium. 

Step 3: Wait until it boils, stir it for a while. Then cover the pan with the pot cover, turn the heat down very low. Cook for 25 minutes if it is white rice, 28 minutes for brown rice. 

Step 4: Turn off the heat, and place the pan on a wet towel. Leave it there for five minutes then you will have the rice ready! Prepare some more good dishes and eat! 

Tips on how to cook the perfect long-grain rice. Source:Suzy Hazelwood

Short-Grain Rice

You can easily figure out this type of rice as it is the most common in the world. Round, starchy and sticky, this rice should be eaten with chopsticks. Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, and Korea are famous for short-grain rice. You can make quick sushi, mochi, rice balls, and rice puddings with this rice. 

Here is a super quick kimbap recipe for breakfast if you have some seaweed sheets and leftover rice the previous night:

You will need 3-5 seaweed sheets (up to how much you eat), 2 bowls of cooked rice,  slides of carrot/cucumber, fried eggs or canned tuna, cooking oil, sesame oil, and a pinch of salts. 

Step 1: Put some salt, sesame oil into your cooked rice and mix it. Remember to warm the rice first to make sure it is soft.

Step 2:  Chop cucumber into slides, boil carrot matchsticks until they are soft, and put them on a plate. If you have canned tuna or fried egg, get them ready too. 

Step 3: When every ingredient is well-cooked, place your seaweed sheet on a clean surface. Place 1-2 spoons of rice on one end of the sheet and spread it around the sheet thinly. 

Step 4: Place any ingredient you like onto the rice sheet, then roll the sheet! There you go, simple kimbap is done! 

You can eat the kimbap with any sauce you want. However, soy sauce is highly recommended. 

Quickest kimbap recipe for breakfast. Source: Pixabay 

Conclusion 

We hope that after scrolling down our article, you can finally answer the question ‘is rice a vegetable, a seed, or a grain?’. Also, we hope that some quick recipes we provided above could help you prepare some quick meals that could fulfill your working day with enough nutrients. 

If you want more information on healthy eating and living, go to our website and you will find what you need! 

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