11 Healthy Rice Substitutes

Medically Reviewed on 8/2/2022
11 Healthy Rice Substitutes
Although it is a regular staple in many diets, eating too much rice can cause several side effects.

Rice is not bad, but there are several better and healthier substitutes on the market. This is particularly true in the case of those with diabetes and obesity.

Rice is a naturally gluten-free grain that forms a staple part of several cuisines and diets. 

Apart from brown rice, there are several other alternatives to white rice that offer more health advantages and fewer calories.

3 potential downsides to rice

Although it is a regular staple in many diets, eating too much rice can cause several side effects.

The potential downsides to rice include:

  1. Affects glucose metabolism
    • Since rice is low in calories and high in carbohydrates, eating too much of it can negatively affect glucose metabolism and insulin production.
    • This can potentially lead to insulin resistance, weight gain, and diabetes.
  2. Prevents the absorption of certain minerals and vitamins
    • When eaten in excess, rice can reduce the absorption of certain nutrients such as zinc.
    • Additionally, a rice dependency can lead to vitamin A deficiency.
  3. May lead to diabetes
    • Since rice is high in carbohydrates, which is equal to consuming a lot of sugar, frequently eating rice in excess may lead to diabetes.
    • Studies have shown that regularly consuming white rice daily could boost your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as well as obesity.

11 healthy rice substitutes

  1. Quinoa: This grain is emerging as a superfood the world over. Quinoa is fiber-rich and naturally gluten-free.
    • Half a cup of cooked quinoa has about 111 calories and 4 grams of protein.
    • It is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
    • It helps reduce hunger pangs, boosts metabolism, and improves cardiovascular health.
    • Its glycemic index (GI) is lower than white rice, making it a better option for those with diabetes.
  2. Farro:
    • It is fiber and protein-rich, providing about 3 grams of protein and 133 calories per 100 grams of grain.
    • It provides vital minerals including iron, calcium, and magnesium.
    • Because it is a form of wheat, it contains gluten.
    • Farro helps improve gut health and manage weight.
  3. Barley: This chewy grain has a distinct flavor.
    • A cup of cooked barley (157 grams) has 193 calories.
    • It has plenty of fiber that helps regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
    • It helps improve heart health, digestion, and inflammation.
  4. Cauliflower rice: This is an excellent alternative for those looking for very low-calorie alternatives to rice.
    • Rich in phytonutrients including antioxidants and minerals, a cup of cauliflower rice provides about 25 calories.
    • It is quite satiating and a good source of vitamins K and C.
  5. Couscous: It can be made from both refined and whole wheat flour. It is preferable to buy whole wheat couscous because it provides more protein, fiber, and minerals (including iron and calcium) than the refined variety.
    • One-fourth cup of whole wheat couscous gives you about 160 calories and 6 grams of protein.
    • It helps keep blood sugar, cholesterol, and pressure levels, and weight under check.
  6. Riced cabbage: Its calorie content is similar to cauliflower rice. It is quite satiating and helps keep cravings at bay. It has a distinct aroma and neutral taste that makes it suitable to make a variety of dishes.
  7. Riced zucchini: If you do not like the smell or taste of cauliflower and cabbage, riced zucchini is the right alternative for you.
    • A 100-gram serving of raw zucchini rice provides just 20 calories and lots of fiber, minerals, and antioxidants.
    • Zucchini may help lose weight, regulate blood pressure, improve blood cholesterol levels, and protect from chronic diseases, including cancer, eye diseases, diabetes, and heart diseases.
  8. Shirataki rice and noodles: Made from konjac roots, shirataki rice and noodles are great for those who want to add quantity to their meals without significant calories. They contain the soluble fiber called glucomannan that helps with gut health, diabetes, and weight management.
    • These noodles or rice have 3 percent fiber and 97 water and provide just 10 calories per 100 grams of serving.
    • They are quite suitable for people on a keto or very low-carb diet.
  9. Edamame pasta: They are soy-based pasta made from edamame bean flour. Edamame pasta is gluten-free and vegan.
    • A 2-ounce serving gives 200 calories and 24 grams of protein.
    • It is rich in fiber and minerals, such as calcium, potassium, and iron.
  10. Buckwheat: The grain-like seeds of buckwheat are another healthier alternative to rice. They are rich in fiber, minerals, and antioxidants, including flavonoids. 
    • Buckwheat helps manage weight and blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
    • It promotes healthy digestion and lowers inflammation.
    • One-fourth cup of raw buckwheat has 150 calories and about 6 grams of protein.
  11. Mushroom rice: They are prepared by finely shredding mushrooms. Mushrooms are one of the richest, natural, vegetarian sources of vitamin D. Mushrooms are rich in folate, niacin, potassium, fiber, and protein.
    • A 100 grams serving of raw maitake mushrooms has just 31 calories.
    • It is good for the heart and brain.
    • Mushroom rice is excellent for weight management and blood sugar control.


According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.” See Answer

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Medically Reviewed on 8/2/2022
Image Source: iStock image

FoodData Central. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov

Shirataki rice by Super Frec U.S.A. Inc. https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Shirataki_rice_by_Super_Frec_U.S.A._Inc._913814_nutritional_value.html

Whole grains: Hearty options for a healthy diet. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/whole-grains/art-20047826

Brown Rice or White Rice: Which Is Your Healthier Option? https://health.clevelandclinic.org/brown-rice-or-white-rice-which-is-your-healthier-option/