Rice: Is it Paleo?
But what about rice? Is that technically a grain? Can you eat rice while following a Paleo diet?
Rice is a grain
First things first. Rice is a grain. Plain and simple.
Again – read all about why grains are excluded on the Paleo diet if you don’t know the reasoning behind it or if you need a refresher.
Ok, now that we have that out of the way, we can get into the more nitty gritty. Even though it is a grain, more and more Paleo experts have somewhat adopted rice (a certain type!) into their Paleo diet.
As I hope you’ve realized by now, Paleo is never black and white. There are exceptions to the rule. There are caveats. And we’re going to discuss them all.
Types of rice
So, as I’m sure you know, there so many types of rice. Brown, wild, white, forbidden, etc.
When talking about rice in the context of a Paleo life, basically all types are excluded except for white.
If you come from a health-conscious background, that may seem a little backwards to you. Brown rice is usually considered THE epitome of health food.
The reason that white rice is Paleo(ish) and other types are not comes from the reason behind the difference in colors. For ease of this discussion, we’re going to focus on brown – but the same can be said for wild and forbidden as well.
Brown versus white rice
Brown rice is brown because the seed contains a couple of different parts. A whole rice seed contains (from the inside out) a kernel, the bran, and the hull. Brown rice has the hull removed, but it contains the bran and the kernel.
White rice has everything removed except for the kernel.
Brown rice is considered a “health” food typically because it still has the bran – and the bran is where all the nutrients (like vitamins, minerals, and fiber) can be found. BUT – our not-so-good friend phytic acid is there too. And phytic acid binds these nutrients and essentially renders them unavailable for our body to use.
Because white rice doesn’t have the bran, it doesn’t have those healthy nutrients…but it also doesn’t carry the phytic acid either. This helps white rice digest in our body much easier. And this is why most Paleo experts say that white rice is acceptable on the Paleo diet.
But again, context is important.
It’s not a free for all
Before you go out and shove your face full of white rice, there are some things we should talk about.
First off, white rice falls pretty high on the glycemic index. It’s a really high-carb food. If you’re on a mission to lose some weight, if you have high blood sugar, or if you’re diabetic, I’d probably recommend to forgo the rice.
If you’re relatively healthy, have no blood sugar issues, or if you’re an athlete or an extremely active person who needs to replenish their glycogen stores quickly, white rice (in small amounts) is totally fine. In fact, because of the cost, convenience, and ease of digestion, it can actually play a pretty awesome role in a well-balanced Paleo diet.
If you decide that white rice is something you want to include in your diet, here are some tips:
- Make sure to rinse your rice really well before cooking it. This helps rinse off any potential toxins off the grains.
- Don’t make the rice the main portion of your meal. Rice should always be an accompanying act to a source of protein. Pair this with a bunch of vegetables and some sort of healthy fat. This not only ensures that you don’t eat too much rice (aka – a ton of carbs), but it also helps keep your blood sugar in check.
- As always, try to buy your rice from local organic sources.
As always, you have to find out what works best for your body. If white rice is something that doesn’t cause your body any distress, by all means, have a bit of white rice occasionally. If you notice it affects you, it’s totally fine to forgo it.
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