The U.S. Department of Agriculture classifies rice as part of the grains food group -- each cup of cooked steamed white rice contributes 2 ounces toward the daily recommended 6 and 7 ounces for women and men, respectively. While steamed white rice pales in comparison to whole-grain varieties of rice when it comes to nutritional value, it serves as a good source of a couple beneficial nutrients. Consume steamed white rice in moderation and combine it with nutrient-packed foods to incorporate it into a healthy diet.
Steamed white rice is relatively high in calories. Each cup of loosely packed rice contains 199 calories -- 13 or 10 percent of your daily calorie intake based on a 1,500- and 2,000-calorie diet, respectively. Most of these calories -- approximately 87 percent -- come from the rice's carbohydrate content. The carbs in rice break down into sugar in your digestive tract, and your body uses that sugar as a source of energy. Steamed white rice also contains 4 grams of protein, and less than a gram of fat.
Consuming steamed white rice helps boost your intake of zinc, an essential mineral. Hundreds of proteins in your body -- including proteins that control gene activity, support tissue structure and boost your metabolism -- rely on zinc to function. Getting enough zinc in your diet supports reproductive health, and zinc also boosts your immune system so that you can fend off infection. Each cup of steamed white rice contains 0.9 milligrams of zinc. This makes up 11 percent of the recommended daily intake for women and 8 percent for men, according to recommendations from the Institute of Medicine.
You'll also consume a significant amount of manganese by including steamed white rice in your diet. Each 1-cup serving boasts 0.6 milligrams of manganese -- approximately one-quarter of the recommended daily intake for men and one-third for women, set by the Institute of Medicine. Like zinc, manganese activates a number of proteins needed for cell function. It allows your body to derive energy from nutrients, boosts collagen production to support wound healing and acts as an antioxidant to prevent cell damage.
Healthier Options and Serving Tips
Eat steamed white rice in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Whole-grain varieties of rice, such as brown rice, should make more regular appearances in your diet. Substituting even a small portion of your white rice intake for brown rice reduces the risk of diabetes, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. When you do serve steamed white rice, pair it with healthful ingredients. Try sautéing the rice, along with broccoli and red pepper, in low-sodium broth for a healthy stir-fry, or cook steamed white rice with chopped carrots, mushrooms and snow peas in a small amount of coconut oil for relatively healthy fried rice.
- USDA ChooseMyPlate: How Many Grain Foods Are Needed Daily?
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Rice, White, Steamed, Chinese Restaraunt
- University of Utah Health Center: Finding the Right Mix of Carbs, Proteins, and Fats
- Linus Pauling Institute: Zinc
- Linus Pauling Institute: Manganese
- Harvard School of Public Health: Replacing White Rice with Brown Rice or Other Whole Grains May Reduce Diabetes Risk
Sylvie Tremblay holds a Master of Science in molecular and cellular biology and has years of experience as a cancer researcher and neuroscientist. Based in Ontario, Canada, Tremblay is an experienced journalist and blogger specializing in nutrition, fitness, lifestyle, health and biotechnology, as well as real estate, agriculture and clean tech.