Rice Milk Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Rice Milk Concept
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Rice milk is a plant-based beverage often used as an alternative to dairy milk. Although the term "rice milk" is commonly used to refer to it, the word "milk" can only be used to refer to a dairy beverage that comes from cows, according to FDA standards. So if you're looking for rice milk in the supermarket, you're likely to see packages labeled as "rice drink" or "rice non-dairy beverage."

You can make your own rice milk with white or brown rice and water. Commercial products usually contain brown rice, brown rice syrup, plant-based oils, and sweeteners or flavorings such as vanilla. Rice milk may also be fortified with micronutrients, such as vitamin B12, calcium, or vitamin D.

Rice Milk Nutrition Facts

One 8-ounce (or 244g) serving of rice milk provides 115 calories, 0.7g of protein, 22.4g of carbohydrates, and 2.4g of fat. Rice milk is an excellent source of calcium, and vitamins A, B12, and D. This nutrition information is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 115
  • Fat: 2.4g
  • Sodium: 95.2mg
  • Carbohydrates: 22.4g
  • Fiber: 0.7g
  • Sugars: 12.9g
  • Protein: 0.7g
  • Calcium: 288mg
  • Vitamin A: 154mcg
  • Vitamin B12: 1.54mcg
  • Vitamin D: 2.4mcg

Carbs

Rice milk provides 115 calories in a one-cup serving, including 22.4 grams of carbohydrates. There are 12.7 grams of sugar in a serving of rice milk, but just 0.7 grams of fiber.

The glycemic index of rice milk is estimated to be between 79 to 92, making this a relatively high glycemic food. Foods with a high glycemic index are quickly digested and cause a rapid rise in blood sugar. 

Fats

There are about 2.4 grams of fat in a single serving of rice milk. Most of the fat is monounsaturated (1.52g), and the remainder is polyunsaturated (1.76g). There is no saturated fat in rice milk.

Protein

A single serving of rice milk is not a significant source of protein, providing under 0.7 grams of the macronutrient.

Vitamins and Minerals

If you are looking to benefit from micronutrients in rice milk, it is important to check the nutrition facts label when choosing which brand to buy. Some, but not all products, are enriched. That means that they have had various nutrients added during processing.

According to USDA data, a one-cup serving of rice milk provides 288mg of calcium (22% of the daily value), 2.4 micrograms of vitamin D (12% of the daily value), 1.54 micrograms of vitamin B12 (64% of the daily value), 154 micrograms of vitamin A (17% of the daily value).

Branded products may provide different amounts of nutrients. For example, Simply Balanced brand rice milk (sold by Target) provides 350mg of calcium, 3.4mcg of vitamin D, and 270mcg of vitamin A.

Summary

Rice milk is a non-dairy milk alternative that provides healthy amounts of vitamins A, B12, and D. It's also a great source of calcium while being a low-fat and low-protein option.

Health Benefits

Choosing fortified rice milk may provide some health advantages due to the nutrients that have been added to it, such as calcium and vitamin D .

Provides a Dairy Milk Alternative

Rice milk provides an easy-to-find alternative for those who have lactose intolerance or milk allergy. It is also vegan- and vegetarian-friendly.

Rice milk is considered to be the least allergic of all of the dairy and non-dairy milk choices. Most other options contain soy, gluten, milk protein, or nuts, which are all common allergens. Most brands of rice milk are simply made from brown rice and brown rice derivatives.

In many ways, rice milk behaves just like dairy milk. It can be used in recipes and the taste is similar (but not exactly the same).

A cup of low-fat (2%) dairy milk provides 122 calories, 8 grams of protein, 4.7 grams of fat, 12 grams of carbohydrate, and 12 grams of sugar. It also provides 309 milligrams of calcium, 2.8mcg of vitamin D, 1.4mcg of vitamin B12, and 203mcg of vitamin A.

Most of the fat in milk is saturated fat, whereas rice milk contains no saturated fat. However, dairy milk contains more protein than rice milk.

If you choose your enriched rice milk carefully, you can get similar nutrients from rice milk as you can from dairy milk. But again, nutritional content can vary substantially, so it's important to read labels to make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need.

Improves Bone Density

The calcium in enriched rice milk is important for bone health and strength and may help prevent osteoporosis (a weakening of the bones that can cause fractures). Low calcium intake throughout life is associated with low bone mass and high fracture rates. Most people don't get the calcium they need to grow and maintain healthy bone.

Since the body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium, the level of this vitamin in fortified rice milk is also important for bone health. You can increase your vitamin D levels by exposing yourself to sunlight. But since sun exposure can increase your risk of skin cancer, getting it in foods is preferable.

Helps Prevent Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Some people are likely to have lower levels of vitamin B12 because they don't absorb it properly or because their diet doesn't include foods rich in the nutrient. Older adults, vegetarians, vegans, people who have had gastrointestinal surgery, and those who have digestive disorders may need to take a vitamin B12 supplement or to look for foods that are fortified with it.

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency may include fatigue, weakness, nerve problems (such as numbness or tingling) constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, or a condition called megaloblastic anemia. This deficiency may also cause depression, confusion, problems with balance, dementia, poor memory, and nerve damage, so it is important to treat it promptly.

Helps Prevent Calcium Deficiency

Besides contributing to bone health, calcium also plays a role in communication between nerves and muscles. It helps maintain healthy blood vessels for circulation and is important for the release of various hormones and enzymes.

Many people are at risk for calcium deficiency, including post-menopausal women. The National Institutes of Health also says that boys aged 9 to 13, girls aged 9 to 18, and men older than 70 often don't get enough calcium.

The type of calcium often added to rice milk is calcium citrate, which can be absorbed on an empty or full stomach. It is also better absorbed by people with low levels of stomach acid or conditions including inflammatory bowel disease or absorption disorders.

Allergies

Rice allergy is not common, but some allergic reactions have been reported, including in children. Symptoms may include rash, skin redness, rash, swelling, oral allergy syndrome, stuffy nose, wheezing, and even anaphylaxis.

If you have a known rice allergy, you should avoid rice milk. If you experience symptoms after consuming rice milk (or any rice product), seek personalized advice from your healthcare provider.

Adverse Effects

There are some reports of people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity having reactions to some brands of rice milk that were advertised to be gluten-free. Occasionally, companies may use a gluten ingredient (such as brown rice syrup that has been processed with barley) in manufacturing.

If you follow a gluten-free diet, you may want to be cautious about consuming rice milk unless you are familiar with the ingredients used to make it. Look for the gluten-free label to ensure the product is free from gluten.

Also, while rice milk itself is not likely to lead to adverse health effects, using it as a milk alternative may be problematic for some people if they are not consuming other sources of important nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D. This is especially a concern for children.

In a statement released in 2018, then-FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, explained why clear labeling of dairy and non-dairy foods is important. Plant-based dairy alternatives are often sold in the dairy section of the grocery store and have similar packaging, which may lead to confusion among consumers.

"The FDA has concerns that the labeling of some plant-based products may lead consumers to believe that those products have the same key nutritional attributes as dairy products, even though these products can vary widely in their nutritional content," said FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD.

Varieties

There are many different brands, flavors, and packaging options for rice milk, and the nutritional information can vary widely, so it is important to read labels when choosing rice milk. You may also want to read ingredient labels. Many brands add oils or other ingredients in order to get a creamier consistency. And some brands add sweeteners to add flavor.

Storage and Food Safety

Rice milk is often sold in shelf-stable containers. These products will remain fresh when stored in a cool, dark cupboard until the expiration date or until they are opened. Once opened, rice milk should be kept in the refrigerator, where it will stay fresh for 7 to 10 days.

Although some consumers freeze rice milk, many manufacturers recommend against it. If you do freeze it, thaw it in the refrigerator and shake well before using.

How to Prepare

If you want to control the ingredients in rice milk, you can make your own at home. You'll need about 3/4 cup to one cup of white or brown rice. Begin by cooking the rice according to package instructions. Some people choose to soak the rice in hot water for a few hours, but simply cooking the rice makes the next step easier.

Allow the cooked rice to cool, then combine with about 2 cups of water in a high-speed blender. At this point, you can add flavorings according to your preferences. Some people use a small amount of salt to enhance flavor. Others like to add sweetness with vanilla, cinnamon, or dates.

Blend the mixture until smooth, then strain through cheesecloth or another type of fine strainer. Place the milk in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Remember that rice milk you make at home will not provide the nutrients available in enriched rice milk that you buy in stores.

Use rice milk like you might use dairy milk: in smoothies, as a refreshing beverage, or warmed with cocoa. You can also top your favorite granola or oats with rice milk and bananas, cinnamon, honey, or maple syrup. Rice milk also pairs well with pumpkin and peanut butter in smoothies.

In general, rice milk is naturally sweeter than other milk alternatives. So it works well in dessert recipes like rice pudding, banana "cream" pie, muffins, pumpkin pie, or even egg nog.

Recipes

Healthy Rice Milk Recipes to Try

Use rice milk instead of dairy milk or another milk alternative in any of these recipes:

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