Enriched Rice vs Regular: Nutrition and Cooking Tips


Rice has been a staple of many people’s diets for years because it has been recommended as one of the healthier ways to ensure your consumption of carbs meets your needs. However, with technological advancements, certain problems arose and nutrition had an answer in the form of enriched rice. But is this rice really good for you and does it make up for everything regular rice loses?

Enriched rice is an affordable replacement for white rice and it ensures you can get all the nutrients rice has to offer. As long as you get your rice from an established market or other places you can trust you will be able to void any possible negative side effects.

However, there are some other things you should look out for. If you are looking to incorporate enriched rice into your daily diet this article will provide some basic information about it as well as some this for its preparation. It will also introduce you to some alternatives to enriched rice.

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What Is Enriched Rice?

Enriched rice is recently added into the food pyramid grain. It appeared approximately half a century ago as an answer to technological advancements in the realm of food processing. Once the industry started to remove the bran of the rice grain it started losing all of its nutritional value because most of it is stored in the bran. To avoid this, the industry created enriched rice.

After the barn of the grain is removed it is coated with nutrients, such as iron, niacin, thiamine, and folic acid, which were lost when the rice was initially processed. It quickly rose to popularity due to the fact that it was marketed as a healthier version of regular rice. This causes it to get incorporated into carbohydrate heavy diets as a better option than either white or brown rice.

Another aspect of enriched rice that is extremely helpful in the world nowadays is the amount of nutrition enriched rice is packed with in comparison to other types of rice.

This makes it the best choice for programs that deal with malnourished populations in the developing parts of the world. Because the same amount can feed more people and provide them with more nutrients it found its place with many different charities.  

Should you wash enriched rice?

Washing the rice is something we all know we should do because it does something. However, most of us are too lazy to look up what it actually does and end up skipping the step altogether.

The primary reason for washing your rice is removing the surface starch from the grain. This

process will make the grains gummy as they cook. This will result in the texture of your rice being more even. Instead of having rice that is in parts tough and chewy, your rice will be fluffy and sticky.

It is a short process which will make your rice much tastier. It is recommended by every chef for dealing with any different type of rice, but should you apply this step when dealing with enriched rice?

The answer has to do with the way the rice is enriched. This is done by adding a micro nutrient powder to the rice which in the process binds to the grain and enriches it. It can also be done by spraying the surface of the grains with the selected nutrients.

The one thing that is consistent with both ways of enrichment is that the nutrients are added onto the surface of the grain. Given that washing removes the starch and other compounds from the surface, the same will happen to the added nutrients. 

To make sure you preserve added nutrients do not wash it. In fact, you do not really need to wash the enriched rice, because everything you want to remove with washing has already been removed through the production process. When preparing enriched rice make sure to use the exact amount of water you need to prepare the desired amount of rice, so that way all of the nutrients that managed to get inside the water will ultimately be absorbed inside the rice with cooking.

Is enriched rice the same as white rice?

So what is the difference between regular white rice and enriched rice? Well, in essence, they are the same but the enriched rice was enriched with selected nutrients.

These differences came with the technological advances in the field of food production. In the past, rice processing was quite simple. It started with harvesting the rice and then milling it. This is where the process would stop. At this point, most of the nutrients are preserved because the only thing getting is removed is the husk.

The new technology allowed the distributors to remove the barn as well. The barn is a thin layer that is set beneath the husk and it contains most of the nutrients. Another added step was polishing which can damage the germ which also contains a lot of nutrients.

Because this process is so destructive to the nutritional content of the rice grain producers started to add these nutrients to the grains before packing them. This is the step that lacks in regular white rice production and is the main difference between white and enriched rice.

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Is enriched rice the same as converted rice?

One thing that is similar to enriched rice, and is often suggested as a good substitute for it is converted rice. The idea behind converted rice is also achieving a more nutritious type of rice.

This way of production is trying to combat the problem of all nutritional add-on’s being placed on the surface of the grain to make them harder to remove. The solution to this problem has come in the form of steaming. Converted rice is steamed before it is husked. Because the white rice has been soaked, parboiled using pressurized steam the nutrients will be preserved in the layers beneath the husk. This way nutrients will remain in the grain even after it was husked.

This type of rice is widely available and you can find it in most supermarkets. One of the most popular brands that offer this type of rice is Uncle Ben’s. However, you can find even better converted rice in an Indian market, since it is the staple of the cuisine. 

Another advantage of this type of rice is its nutritional composition. Because most of the nutritional value is preserved you can get more nutrients in the same amount of converted rice than regular white rice.

One cup of converted rice has the same amount of nutrients as three and a quarter cups of cooked white rice.

Is Enriched white rice good for you?

With all of this knowledge, the only remaining question is whether enriched rice is actually good for you. Enriched rice presents a great way to ensure you are getting all the nutrients rice has to offer and keeping the best possible texture.

It is recommended by the WHO as a way to ensure iron intake with the population that has rice as a big part of the diet. It also helps to ensure the consumption of vitamin A and folic acid.

However, with all these benefits, there are also a few concerns. The primary one is can these added nutrients be a viable replacement for the natural ones that get removed during the preparation of the grain. It should be acknowledged is that while you can absorb the added nutrients it will be harder for your body to do so because is harder to recognize them. This makes them a bit harder to assimilate. 

Another concern is the quality of the added nutrients and how cheap and low grade nutrient add-ins will affect your body. Many cheaper versions will contain higher levels of sodium, fat and sugar.

Although it should not cause you any major problems it is possible that the lower quality can cause harder assimilation may over time lead to nutritional buildups.

One thing to keep in is that enriched rice is not inherently good for you and in order to ensure you are consuming the healthy kind make sure to check the label on the packaging.

All of the brands have to provide you with a label that reveals what was added during the process of the enrichment and in what quantities. As long as you pay attention to this information you should be good to go.

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Conclusion

Enriched rice is white rice that attempts to add some of the nutrients back into it. Again, these nutrients were taken from the removed bran and germ sections of the rice.

The way that enriched rice is processed means those nutrients can be easily washed away if the rice is rinsed before or after it is cooked. Even though enriched rice is somewhat better than plain white rice, you won’t have any fiber in it because that is only found in the bran layer.

When you see enriched white rice, what you’re getting is a “healthier” white rice, but some people say once you cook the rice, those nutrients could easily dissipate.

The concept of enrichment is used the same way with enriched flour too. In the end, if you want to get the full nutritional value from rice it is best to just stick with brown rice or any other whole grain rice rather than white rice.

Eric M Wilkens

Content writer and recreational cook. I also enjoy craft beer, comedy and the outdoors.

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