Appetizers

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No surprise: Rice helps healthy diet

04/09/2014 2:24 PM

04/09/2014 2:25 PM

A new study confirmed what billions of people know: Rice goes a long way in a healthy diet.

Americans who consumed rice regularly tended to have healthier diets overall, according to new research.

In a study published online in the peer-reviewed journal “Food and Nutrition Sciences,” lead author Theresa Nicklas of Baylor College of Medicine analyzed seven years of data collected in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The sample included 14,386 adults and what they ate from 2005 to 2010. Nicklas and her team evaluated the association of rice consumption with overall diet quality and key nutrient intakes.

What they found: Consumers who ate more rice tended to get more nutrients while eating less fat and added sugar. They also tended to eat more fruit and vegetables.

“Our results show that adults who eat rice had diets more consistent with what is recommended in the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, and they showed higher amounts of potassium, magnesium, iron, folate and fiber while eating less saturated fat and added sugars,” Nicklas said. “Eating rice is also associated with eating more servings of fruit, vegetables, meat and beans.”

On average, Americans eat about 27 pounds of rice a year. Of that, about 70 percent is enriched white rice.

Most of that rice was grown in the USA; American farmers grow an estimated 20 billion pounds of rice a year, according to the USA Rice Federation.

California, the No. 2 rice-growing state, annually accounts for about 4.5 billion pounds, mostly short-grained rice. Virtually every piece of sushi made in the U.S. contains California-grown rice.

More than 95 percent of California’s rice crop grows within 100 miles of Sacramento. So, when it comes to rice, Sacramentans can eat local — and healthier, too.

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