Is rice bad for cholesterol?

Some data suggest 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 their cholesterol.

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

This article discusses the nutritional composition of rice and the types of rice that are best suited for a person who needs to control their cholesterol levels. In addition, it gives advice on how much rice to eat and which 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 someone’s cholesterol or triglyceride levels. Additionally, there are several factors to consider when determining whether rice can cause a person to develop high cholesterol. These include the following factors:

– the type of rice a person eats
– the frequency with which it is consumed
– Portion size
– what she eats with rice
– if she has risk factors for hypercholesterolemia, such as obesity, inactivity, or a poor diet.

types of rice

The type of rice a person eats can determine whether 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, which deprives them of nutrients like B vitamins and fiber.
White rice is one of the refined cereals, devoid of fiber.

In contrast, unrefined or whole 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

White rice and brown rice nutrition

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 grams (g) 3.23 g
Folate 1.74 micrograms (mcg) 18.2 mcg
Choline 3.65mg 18.6mg
Niacin 0.505mg 5.17mg
Protein 3.52g 5.54g

Why brown rice is better for controlling cholesterol

Current research suggests that eating unrefined grains is better for overall health and cholesterol control. For example, a 2020 review of 25 studies suggests 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.

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

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

How much rice to eat?

For adults, it would be good to consume 170 to 200 grams of cereal a day, depending on age and gender. This amount includes rice and other grains like bread, oatmeal, and buckwheat. Half of the cereals consumed should consist of whole grains. A serving of 30 grams is equivalent to half a cup of cooked rice.
However, a person can help maintain a moderate weight and control cholesterol by eating fewer grains. She may seek advice from a nutritionist or health care professional about how much to eat. Also, if a person chooses white rice, they can combine it with a source of lean protein, vegetables, and nutritious fats for a more nutritious meal.

More nutritious alternatives to white rice

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

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


There is some evidence to suggest that eating refined grains such as white rice can contribute to the development of high cholesterol. That’s why advisory bodies recommend that people consume at least half of their daily grain intake in their whole, unrefined form. Therefore, to control cholesterol, a person can choose types of brown rice to consume in moderate amounts suited to their health and weight goals. In addition, 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 nutritionist.


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

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

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

* Presse Santé strives to transmit medical knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO EVENT shall the information provided be a substitute for medical advice.

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