21

votes

Why are so many people promoting white rice as "safe"?

Answered on June 26, 2015
Created August 07, 2012 at 11:33 PM

Firstly, white rice has a glycemic index of 100 - 120 Secondly, white rice has very little nutrients and antioxidants compared to fruits and vegetables Thirdly, white rice has been linked to diabetes and heart disease in several studies

Higher consumption of white rice is associated with a significantly increased risk of type 2 diabetes, especially in Asian (Chinese and Japanese) populations. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22422870

An increase in daily servings of white rice was positively associated with systolic blood pressure (BP), triglycerides, and fasting glucose and inversely associated with HDL cholesterol (P-trend <0.01 for all). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21813808

The results provide evidence of a positive association between habitual rice food consumption and the risk of ischemic stroke in Chinese adults. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21051005

Traditional cultures who eat white rice ARE healthy, but modern cultures who read white rice are not. Affluent Indians who eat white rice regularly have very high rates of metabolic syndrome, diabetes and heart disease. Poor Indians, not so much, thats because they eat one meal and work 15 hours a day.

Paul Jaminet makes this observation: "It???s a common observation that the toxic grains, especially wheat, can produce a potbelly or ???beer belly.??? Rice doesn???t seem to do that.

There is epidemiological evidence for this effect. Here, for instance, is obesity prevalence by country from the World Health Organization Global Infobase:

[World map]

Note the low obesity prevalence in the rice eating countries of China, India, Japan, Indonesia, and southeast Asia; and in sub-Saharan Africa, where a diversity of starch sources are eaten, including manioc/cassava, sorghum, millet, rice, maize, and wheat. The highest obesity prevalence is found in wheat-eating countries." http://perfecthealthdiet.com/2011/01/why-we-get-fat-food-toxins/

That is hardly "epidemiological evidence". The low prevalence of obesity in China, India, Indonesia, South-east Asia and sub-Saharan Africa can be attributed to low income households/poverty/starvation which means more physical activity and/or less food. The low prevalence of obesity in Japan can be attributed to their cultural values of self control and self discipline in their eating habits. Besides, the Japanese eat small servings of white rice which is often mixed with vinegar and consumed with seaweed, vegetables and fish e.g. sushi (note: vinegar lowers the glycemic response).

The number of centenarians per 100,000 people in 3.63 in China and 22.45 in the USA. The Chinese eat a lot of rice, why aren't they living longer?

I'm not saying that wheat is safe at all. I'm just saying that rice isn't a good alternative. In my personal experience, when I have rice for dinner, I always wake up hungry, literally starving and stomach rumbling, that means messed up insulin levels.

In my opinion, the best grain is oats, which I do eat occasionally. It helps with my IBS and digestive issues.

Here is my advice if you are going to eat rice: - Choose long grain/ basmati which a slightly lower glycemic index than other varieties - No more than two servings per week (unless you're an athlete) - No more than 1/2 cup cooked rice per serving - Don't eat rice for dinner - Certain spices in curry (cinnamon, garlic, ginger, turmeric, pepper) all improve insulin sensitivity and vinegar lowers the glycemic response.
- Listen to your body. Only you know what works best for you.

I would love to hear alternative viewpoints. Please use pubmed studies as sources. Thanks

5249df0c1098a8ea4607cc305f0cbdcf

(864)

on August 09, 2012
at 04:27 PM

Holla! ! ! ! ! !

C4f1a0c70c4e0dea507c2e346c036bbd

on August 09, 2012
at 03:20 PM

I assume everything is bad in the snickers bar. Unless its from a pool, but that might not taste good.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on August 08, 2012
at 06:33 PM

Glycemic index is a useless metric.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on August 08, 2012
at 04:13 PM

Good studies OP. Like the extra info.

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on August 08, 2012
at 01:07 PM

@Shawn: Perfect Health Diet.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on August 08, 2012
at 01:02 PM

Is there wheat in snickers?

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on August 08, 2012
at 01:01 PM

Wow, concise good answer.

Ef26f888ed248de197c37a4cb04ef4a7

(584)

on August 08, 2012
at 11:19 AM

@ matt. Especially considering people tend to be pretty liberal with their oil and fat usage which tend to be fairly nutritionally devoid.

91882203467f64f68f25f58f1caeee68

(1017)

on August 08, 2012
at 11:18 AM

I see PHD'er often...what's that mean?

4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

(4413)

on August 08, 2012
at 06:47 AM

@Matt. Yeah... I know what you mean. Still I try to avoid any and all grains so in my mind it is not a grain! lol Still, that buckwheat crepe I had was pretty dang grain-like (and so yummy)

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on August 08, 2012
at 03:06 AM

@crowlover, botanically maybe, but culinarily it's a grain.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on August 08, 2012
at 02:25 AM

Why does every bite of food on a paleo diet need to be as nutrient dense as possible? There are some days where the only thing I'm really lacking in my diet are calories, starch fits the bill perfectly.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on August 08, 2012
at 02:18 AM

Right, I don't think it's paleo at all. It's just a cheat that does not give me immediately nasty consequences. That's why I eat it a few times a month and not wheat. That's an immediate owie.

C4f1a0c70c4e0dea507c2e346c036bbd

on August 08, 2012
at 02:03 AM

Not wheat. Seams to affect my allergies, mood and immune system.

4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

(4413)

on August 08, 2012
at 01:53 AM

Buckwheat is awesome Eugene K but it is not a grain (its actually a fruit seed and related to rhubarb)

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on August 08, 2012
at 01:39 AM

Safe starch is so completely laughable a term. Anyone other than jaminet and hardcore paleo hacks people would laugh you right out of the room talking about safe starch. Notions like this are why the paleo idea of eating whole unprocessed foods, looking to a food's provenance etc will never gain ground.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on August 08, 2012
at 01:37 AM

Naan is the shit. Manusedtogo to all you can eat curry places and pack in the naan

1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on August 08, 2012
at 01:19 AM

Those T-2 diabetic Indians most likely got that way due to their lack of exercise & consumption of hydrogenated vegetable oils ans sugary junk food. Plus, naan. Mmmmm..... naan.....

A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c

on August 08, 2012
at 01:13 AM

When I decided to eat white rice, I was overjoyed to have sushi, and risotto back.

A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c

on August 08, 2012
at 12:55 AM

Rice is not a paleo food. It's a "Perfect Health Diet" food. People don't promote white rice as "paleo" in my experience. It's one of those 80/20 extras that some people choose as a treat.

A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c

on August 08, 2012
at 12:54 AM

Excellent summary.

A08b210e4da7e69cd792bddc1f4aae4b

(1031)

on August 08, 2012
at 12:50 AM

+1 but I'd like to see the references.

A08b210e4da7e69cd792bddc1f4aae4b

(1031)

on August 08, 2012
at 12:48 AM

Every food seems to have some downside, even fruit for some. I think Paleo is about maximising benefits while minimising harm; this equation differs individual to individual. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/3398692/Fruitless-ways-to-lift-depression.html

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on August 08, 2012
at 12:46 AM

Downvoted because I haven't seen anyone promoting rice as a superfood, either on PH or the authors mentioned in the OP. Hyperbole is a logical fallacy and should not be used/promoted.

892d177f50b16f118152219229870e4e

(776)

on August 08, 2012
at 12:37 AM

Who exactly has claimed white rice to be a superfood ? Every single thing you consume doesn't have to be filled to the brim with nutrients.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on August 08, 2012
at 12:32 AM

Glycemic index is a complete non issue for healthy individuals.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on August 08, 2012
at 12:32 AM

Everything is great after dead lifting.

54f75fb54778cfa947990bec1175307a

(665)

on August 08, 2012
at 12:31 AM

The best grain is buckwheat IMO

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on August 08, 2012
at 12:31 AM

While the term safe starch is silly in itself the reason people use the term is because precisely rice is safe. Rice is not going to make an otherwise healthy person unhealthy. Your own question points that out. Be active, move around a lot, don't be overweight - do all these things and rice, like any other food, is totally safe. Rice is not going to harm a healthy person.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on August 08, 2012
at 12:31 AM

Josh, I'd be interested to hear your reasons (including, as you asked for, pubmed studies for sources if available but certainly not a requirement) as to why oats are superior to white rice.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on August 08, 2012
at 12:28 AM

Totally agree. When I'm eating rice, I know it is just for the enjoyment factor. For example, sashimi, for me, just isn't nearly as good as nigiri. I think it's important that we understand what's good for our bodies and get our minds -mostly- in sync, realize when they're not, and limit ourselves on the pure enjoyment factor to when it really counts.

892d177f50b16f118152219229870e4e

(776)

on August 08, 2012
at 12:25 AM

I have Crohn's also and it seems to be rather innocuous with the exception of some minor bloat.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on August 08, 2012
at 12:09 AM

Sorry for the long rambling sentences, ya'll. That was kind of a stream of consciousness answer! And yeah, I certainly don't eat it every day - more like a few times a month and generally as nigiri or paella.

F9638b939a6f85d67f60065677193cad

(4266)

on August 08, 2012
at 12:01 AM

Why do you assume if you are hungry in the morning after a dinner with rice because of messed up insulin and not simply because rice is fairly empty of nutrients?

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on August 07, 2012
at 11:58 PM

Sorry for the long rambling sentences, ya'll. That was kind of a stream of consciousness answer!

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on August 07, 2012
at 11:55 PM

Word .

449e19bbd371a87b653b9b8b56736005

(1567)

on August 07, 2012
at 11:47 PM

I agree. I rarely have white rice, but when I do, it's a treat to enjoy with some bulgogi or sushi. It's not an every day/every meal thing at all.

1046dde1e260ae4fbb25926577ea715f

(108)

on August 07, 2012
at 11:37 PM

I didn't mean to single out Dr Jaminet. Stephan Guyanet and Mark Sisson also seem to think white rice is a good grain or at least the least bad grain.

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17 Answers

28
61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on August 07, 2012
at 11:44 PM

Because "safe" isn't just about GI load and Paleo/Primal isn't just about weight. For someone who does not have problems like obesity, diabetes, or other insulin related problems, and is active, some white rice every now and then isn't a big deal. It is pretty devoid of nutrients, but it also does not have as many anti-nutrients such as phytic acid and lectins that other grains have more of, and it does not have gluten, the protein that a lot of people are sensitive to, whether they know it or not. It isn't a "superfood" by any means, more like just a blank glucose slate, but it doesn't cause nearly as many problems with nearly as many people as many other grains when it is not eaten excessively.

A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c

on August 08, 2012
at 12:54 AM

Excellent summary.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on August 07, 2012
at 11:55 PM

Word .

449e19bbd371a87b653b9b8b56736005

(1567)

on August 07, 2012
at 11:47 PM

I agree. I rarely have white rice, but when I do, it's a treat to enjoy with some bulgogi or sushi. It's not an every day/every meal thing at all.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on August 08, 2012
at 12:32 AM

Glycemic index is a complete non issue for healthy individuals.

A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c

on August 08, 2012
at 01:13 AM

When I decided to eat white rice, I was overjoyed to have sushi, and risotto back.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on August 07, 2012
at 11:58 PM

Sorry for the long rambling sentences, ya'll. That was kind of a stream of consciousness answer!

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on August 08, 2012
at 12:09 AM

Sorry for the long rambling sentences, ya'll. That was kind of a stream of consciousness answer! And yeah, I certainly don't eat it every day - more like a few times a month and generally as nigiri or paella.

5249df0c1098a8ea4607cc305f0cbdcf

(864)

on August 09, 2012
at 04:27 PM

Holla! ! ! ! ! !

12
07c86972a3bea0b0dc17752e9d2f5642

on August 08, 2012
at 05:52 AM

The term (as used by Paul Jaminet) has nothing to do with half baked theories about carbs and weight gain. What makes it "safe" is that it is easy on the body. Eating white rice causes most people (sick or healthy) about as much physical distress as drinking water.

However, there's no measuring the amount of emotional distress that white rice seems to cause the average Paleo.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on August 08, 2012
at 01:01 PM

Wow, concise good answer.

11
707342e3cb97e0fc088917919a154b8a

on August 07, 2012
at 11:57 PM

It's the "lesser of all evil" of grains, but VERY far from an optimal choice when there are hundreds, if not thousands, of other options that are far superior from a nutritional standpoint.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on August 08, 2012
at 12:28 AM

Totally agree. When I'm eating rice, I know it is just for the enjoyment factor. For example, sashimi, for me, just isn't nearly as good as nigiri. I think it's important that we understand what's good for our bodies and get our minds -mostly- in sync, realize when they're not, and limit ourselves on the pure enjoyment factor to when it really counts.

10
C4f1a0c70c4e0dea507c2e346c036bbd

on August 08, 2012
at 12:10 AM

Never had an issue with it and I have Chrohns. Its great after deadlifting.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on August 08, 2012
at 12:32 AM

Everything is great after dead lifting.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on August 08, 2012
at 01:02 PM

Is there wheat in snickers?

C4f1a0c70c4e0dea507c2e346c036bbd

on August 08, 2012
at 02:03 AM

Not wheat. Seams to affect my allergies, mood and immune system.

892d177f50b16f118152219229870e4e

(776)

on August 08, 2012
at 12:25 AM

I have Crohn's also and it seems to be rather innocuous with the exception of some minor bloat.

C4f1a0c70c4e0dea507c2e346c036bbd

on August 09, 2012
at 03:20 PM

I assume everything is bad in the snickers bar. Unless its from a pool, but that might not taste good.

5
A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c

on August 08, 2012
at 01:08 AM

Regarding the term "safe," we might also consider that "safe" does not necessarily mean "recommended." White rice seems safe for many people for the reasons Luckie provided above. But even the Perfect Health Diet, which adopts the notion of "safe starches," suggests we limit them to no more than 100 grams a day, about 400 calories. Many people who choose "safe starches" choose much lower portions that this, because they also get starch calories from other things, like sweet potatoes and other tubers and roots.

Maybe we find it easy to imagine people eating plates piled high with white rice at every meal, but I don't think most paleo-ish folks consume it in this fashion. And almost nobody actively promotes it. Perhaps no one with serious insulin issues should consume it--almost everyone seems to agree with this as well. But many foods come with these caveats. Some people with diabetes perhaps shouldn't even consume fruit. People with nightshade issues shouldn't consume peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, potatoes. People with shellfish allergies shouldn't eat shrimp. Some people even seem to have trouble tolerating the vaunted coconut! Like almost everything, we need to treat individuals as individuals--and remember that when we dispense advice based on studies of large groups.

5
0a9ad4e577fe24a6b8aafa1dd7a50c79

on August 07, 2012
at 11:53 PM

White rice has very low phytic acid levels. All grains have gluten-like proteins, including rice. However, rice has only 5% of this protein (Orzenin), whereas wheat can be approximately 69% Gliadin by volume.

Some of these proteins are inflammatory, but others, like the protein in oats has been shown to be mostly inert and safe even for celiacs.

It's these proteins we need to be wary of.

A08b210e4da7e69cd792bddc1f4aae4b

(1031)

on August 08, 2012
at 12:50 AM

+1 but I'd like to see the references.

4
E74c0193aea8fafacee59b58e2d38ced

on August 15, 2012
at 06:38 AM

why-are-so-many-people-promoting-white-rice-as-

4
7f8bc7ce5c34aae50408d31812c839b0

(2698)

on August 08, 2012
at 01:48 AM

Rice is useful when you want a chunk of carbs that will convert directly to glucose without a fructose load. Fruit has fructose. I avoid that. I can't eat certain veggies because of goitrogenic issues.

So white rice helps give me the limited amount of glucose I want in the least toxic way.

Yes I'm a PHD'er.

91882203467f64f68f25f58f1caeee68

(1017)

on August 08, 2012
at 11:18 AM

I see PHD'er often...what's that mean?

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on August 08, 2012
at 01:07 PM

@Shawn: Perfect Health Diet.

3
1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on August 08, 2012
at 01:22 AM

Rice is simply a platform upon which my meat and veggies have a rest before they're crammed down my gullet.

2
6473dcb4b0e9b839615d650c168d2747

(638)

on August 09, 2012
at 03:14 PM

Because when eating out, it's often the lesser of evils. Sometimes it's OK to eat for taste.

2
D7af418bb74448d39f757b2c370fbcf5

on August 07, 2012
at 11:50 PM

I think the answer would be that while white rice isn't an ideal food by any means, what we eat is sometimes about enjoyment and satiety, and white rice occasionally seems to fit the bill without too severe of a downside. Especially in the context of a really great paleo diet.

0
A4de77e045c55d4d6f50dd7a1bf81520

on June 26, 2015
at 02:33 PM

I wouldn't say that white rice is necesarilly safe, but in some cases it also not harmful. Check my profile for my youtube channel where I have a video on rice and a paleolithic diet.

0
A4de77e045c55d4d6f50dd7a1bf81520

on June 26, 2015
at 10:18 AM

I believe that white rice can be beneficial for certain individuals and I have explained it in a video check my profile to see my youtube account!

0
6fece842bd1bcf5724f458a302a2156e

on September 07, 2013
at 12:44 AM

We certainly weren't eating white rice when we were hunger gatherers. If you farm it is an easy staple.

I certainly have always found brown basmati with wild rice (which I used to eat as my main carb) made me feel a lot better than white rice but I have read the arguments otherwise and I can see the points made.

It always seemed to me that the rough bits of brown bread, the skin on fruit rather than the juice etc often contains the best bits so it seemed logical that brown was better than white. The early book one of the first anti sugar books from the 1960s or 70s I forget which one had good chapters on why when Chinese etc moved from brown to white rice they got sicker. I accept that is contrary to what you see on a lot of paleo sites and I am not a scientist and I avoild the issue by not eating carb, grain etc at all but I think in my heart of hearts I still hold the view of brown good, white refined bad.

0
0b4326a4949718451a8571b82558dc10

on August 08, 2012
at 12:26 AM

I just use white rice when I need a high glycmic food post workout...any-other time I won't eat it...but I believe its good if you can use it the right way and better than brown rice when eaten in small quantities.

0
1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

on August 07, 2012
at 11:49 PM

The reason some paleo-oriented individuals consider white rice to be "safe" is because it is low in toxins (being so refined), and has been consumed by health cultures for thousands of years. The reason it is considered low in toxins is because it is primarily devoid of gluten and fructose, and essentially saves as a source for pure glucose. Also, the glycemic index of a food is fairly irrelevant concept, IMHO. The glycemic load is probably more important, but even then, it all depends on timing, your individual insulin sensitivity, etc. White rice isn't evil in the context of an otherwise healthy diet.

Personally, I am in meatymichael's camp in that there are healthier sources of carbs to choose from. I only consume white rice when I go out for sushi, and my choice for carbs is berries, honey, and Japanese sweet potatoes, and that's about it. Some people don't do well with sweet potatoes though, and people avoid fruit for other (bad) reasons. If that's your only option, then go for it, but I wouldn't make it my first.

-4
C326acd0ae246a39c5685f2ba72e3136

on August 07, 2012
at 11:37 PM

THANK YOU! I thought this was the PALEO diet not the " White rice is a superood " diet. If you are going to eat carbs eat squash, sweet potatoe, fruit. Foods that actually provide fiber, antioxidents, vitamins and minerals. Not nutritionally deficient processed white rice. yes I admit, a meal of fatty meat and white rice taste devine, but it's not going to improve your health.

A08b210e4da7e69cd792bddc1f4aae4b

(1031)

on August 08, 2012
at 12:48 AM

Every food seems to have some downside, even fruit for some. I think Paleo is about maximising benefits while minimising harm; this equation differs individual to individual. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/3398692/Fruitless-ways-to-lift-depression.html

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on August 08, 2012
at 02:25 AM

Why does every bite of food on a paleo diet need to be as nutrient dense as possible? There are some days where the only thing I'm really lacking in my diet are calories, starch fits the bill perfectly.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on August 08, 2012
at 02:18 AM

Right, I don't think it's paleo at all. It's just a cheat that does not give me immediately nasty consequences. That's why I eat it a few times a month and not wheat. That's an immediate owie.

A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c

on August 08, 2012
at 12:55 AM

Rice is not a paleo food. It's a "Perfect Health Diet" food. People don't promote white rice as "paleo" in my experience. It's one of those 80/20 extras that some people choose as a treat.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on August 08, 2012
at 12:46 AM

Downvoted because I haven't seen anyone promoting rice as a superfood, either on PH or the authors mentioned in the OP. Hyperbole is a logical fallacy and should not be used/promoted.

892d177f50b16f118152219229870e4e

(776)

on August 08, 2012
at 12:37 AM

Who exactly has claimed white rice to be a superfood ? Every single thing you consume doesn't have to be filled to the brim with nutrients.

Ef26f888ed248de197c37a4cb04ef4a7

(584)

on August 08, 2012
at 11:19 AM

@ matt. Especially considering people tend to be pretty liberal with their oil and fat usage which tend to be fairly nutritionally devoid.

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