You know you need to increase your fiber intake, and adding fiber-rich foods can put you on the right path. Any type of rice has fiber, but some have far more than others. In general, opt for rice with color, such as brown or wild rice. If it’s white, it’s been heavily processed and most likely isn’t high in fiber.
The exact amount of fiber in each type of rice varies drastically. Long-grain brown rice is at the top of the list for the most fiber. You’ll get 3.5 grams of fiber from 1 cup of cooked long-grain brown rice. Wild rice is a close second offering 3 grams of fiber in each cup, while 1 cup of long-grain parboiled white rice offers just 1.6 grams. Avoid instant rice, since most of the fiber is stripped away during processing. One cup of cooked white long-grain instant rice contains a measly 1 gram of fiber -- 70 percent less fiber than the same amount of long-grain brown rice.
Type of Fiber
The majority of fiber in rice is insoluble. This is the type of fiber that sweeps out your gut, like a broom, and pushes out waste. Insoluble fiber makes your stools bulkier and easy to pass and helps keep you regular, reducing your chances of diverticulitis and hemorrhoids. Rice does have a small amount of soluble fiber as well. Soluble fiber binds with cholesterol, transporting some of it out with waste, which can lower your cholesterol levels over time. It also stabilizes your blood sugar and allows nutrients to absorb fully through intestinal walls.
Aim for 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories in your diet, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 states. On average, Americans get just 10 to 15 grams of fiber each day, far less than the 28 grams you should be getting daily for an average 2,000-calorie diet. Having a full 1-cup cooked serving of long-grain brown rice accounts for nearly 13 percent of your daily fiber needs for a 2,000-calorie diet. But if you have instant white rice instead, you’ll get less than 4 percent of your recommended amount.
Too much fiber can upset your belly if you’re not used to it. For example, if your go-to side dish is instant white rice and you suddenly switch to brown rice, the extra fiber can cause gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation. Give your body plenty of time to adjust. Either mix the two types of rice together, starting with one part brown rice and three parts white rice, or have a very small portion of brown rice to start, maybe one-quarter cup instead of a full cup. As long as your body doesn’t seem to mind the fiber boost, you can gradually add more brown or wild rice to your diet. Lastly, you’ll need to drink plenty of water while increasing your fiber intake. Water helps fiber move through your gut, and without it, you may become backed up.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- MayoClinic.com: Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet
- MedlinePlus: Fiber
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Fiber, Total Dietary, (g) Content of Selected Foods per Common Measure, Sorted by Nutrient Content
- Harvard Medical School: Fiber Content of Foods in Common Portions
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.