Is rice bad for cholesterol?

Some data suggests that excessive consumption of white rice may contribute to high cholesterol. However, choosing whole grain varieties adds more fiber and nutrients to the diet and can help a person manage cholesterol.

Rice is a staple food all over the world. However, there is conflicting evidence about the health effects of rice and whether its consumption may contribute to high cholesterol.

This article discusses the nutritional composition of rice and the most appropriate type of rice for a person who needs to control their cholesterol levels. It also provides advice on how much rice to eat and nutritious alternatives to include in your daily meals.

Does rice cause high cholesterol?

Although rice does not contain cholesterol, it can affect the body in ways that can raise a person’s cholesterol or triglyceride levels. In addition, there are many factors to consider when determining whether rice can cause a person to develop high cholesterol. These include the following factors:

What kind of rice do people eat?
Frequency of consumption
– portion size
What do you eat with rice?
If she has risk factors for hypercholesterolemia, such as obesity, inactivity, or a diet low in nutrition.

types of rice

The type of rice a person eats can determine if they are at risk of raising their cholesterol levels. There are two types of rice grains: refined grains and unrefined grains.
Food producers make refined grains by removing the husk, bran, and germ from the grain, depriving them of nutrients such as B vitamins and fiber.
White rice is a refined grain, devoid of fiber.

In contrast, whole or unrefined grains contain all the natural plant nutrients, including fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Unrefined rice includes:

brown rice
wild rice
red rice
purple rice
black rice

Nutrition of white rice and brown rice

One cup of cooked white rice and one cup of cooked brown rice contain the following amounts of additional nutrients and fiber:

white rice brown rice
Fiber 1.74 g 3.23 g
Folic acid 1.74 mcg 18.2 mcg
Choline 3.65 mg 18.6 mg
Niacin 0.505 mg 5.17 mg
3.52 g 5.54 g protein

Why is brown rice better for managing cholesterol

Current research indicates that eating unrefined grains is better for overall health and cholesterol management. For example, a 2020 review of 25 studies reports that eating whole grains instead of refined grains in adults with and without cardiovascular risk factors may improve total cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

In addition, a 2020 study of more than 132,000 participants in 21 countries found that higher consumption of white rice was associated with an increased risk of diabetes, with the strongest association seen in South Asia. The study indicates that the glucose index (GI) of processed white rice is as high as that of white bread and that eating foods high in sugar is a risk factor for developing diabetes. In addition, excess blood sugar can also lead to high triglycerides, which can lead to high cholesterol. The above study indicates that eating a lot of rice can lead to high blood sugar.

A cup of cooked long-grain brown rice contains more than 3g of fiber, compared to less than 1g for a cup of cooked long-grain white rice. Therefore, choosing brown rice better can contribute to the intake of 22 to 34 g of fiber per day. Dietary fiber from whole foods, such as brown rice, can lower total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and supplement statin therapy to prevent heart disease.

How much rice to eat?

For adults, it would be fine to eat 170-200 grams of cereal per day, depending on age and gender. This amount includes rice and other cereals such as bread, oatmeal and buckwheat. Half of the grains consumed should consist of whole grains. A 30-gram serving equals half a cup of cooked rice.
However, a person can help maintain a moderate weight and manage cholesterol by eating fewer grains. She can seek advice from a dietitian or health professional about how much to eat. Additionally, if someone chooses white rice, they can pair it with a source of lean protein, vegetables, and nutritious fats for a more nutritious meal.

More nutritious alternatives to white rice

Although eating white rice may provide additional nutrients, such as B vitamins, people should generally limit refined grains to half their daily intake. Therefore, a person can choose the following nutritious alternatives instead of white rice, depending on the meal or recipe they are preparing:

brown rice
red rice
black rice
wild rice
whole couscous
black wheat
Whole cornmeal.


There is some evidence to suggest that eating refined grains, such as white rice, may contribute to the development of high cholesterol. This is why advisory bodies recommend that people consume at least half of their daily intake of grains in their whole, unrefined form. Therefore, to control cholesterol, a person can choose varieties of brown rice to consume in moderate quantities that suit their health goals and weight. Also, there are more nutritious alternatives to white rice, such as cauliflower rice, quinoa, and bulgur. If a person needs advice on how to lower their cholesterol levels, they can consult a doctor or dietitian.


Bhavadarini, B, et al. (2020). White rice intake and diabetes: a study of 132,373 participants in 21 countries.

Marshall, S, et al. (2020). Effect of replacing refined grains with whole grains on cardiovascular risk factors: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials with clinical class recommendation. [Abstract].

Solomon, GA, et al. (2019). Dietary fiber, atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.

* Presse Santé strives to impart medical knowledge in a language accessible to all. In no way can the information provided replace medical advice.

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