Wild Rice Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

bowl of cooked wild rice blend

Getty Images / Juanmonino

Contrary to the name, wild rice is not actually a type of rice at all. It is the seed of semi-aquatic grass with an edible grain. While most types of rice and other grains grow in Asian and European countries, wild rice is native to North America and grows across waterways in the United States.

Compared to white and brown rice, wild rice has longer grains, a firmer texture, and a nuttier and earthier flavor. This grass-grain-hybrid is a nutritious food that is associated with many health benefits.

Wild Rice Nutrition Facts

The nutritional content of wild rice depends on whether it is cooked or raw, as well as the serving size. The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of cooked wild rice.

  • Calories: 101
  • Fat: 0.34g
  • Sodium: 3mg
  • Carbohydrates: 21.3g
  • Fiber: 1.8g
  • Sugars: 0.73g
  • Protein: 4g

Carbs

A 3.5-ounce serving of cooked wild rice contains 21.3 grams of carbohydrates. Only 0.73 grams of its total carb content is made up of sugars. The carb content also contains 1.8 grams of fiber, which has been associated with reduced risk of heart disease, increased longevity, and reduced risk of colorectal carcinoma.

The glycemic index of wild rice is 53, making wild rice a low glycemic index food. Choosing foods with a lower glycemic index may be helpful in managing diabetes.

Fats

With just 0.34 grams per serving, wild rice is a low-fat food that is naturally cholesterol-free. This may be a suitable choice for those following a low-fat diet. However, it is not a significant source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Protein

Wild rice contains approximately 4 grams of protein per serving. This may not sound like a lot, but it can be part of a protein-dense meal when paired with other protein sources like lean meat and legumes. The USDA Dietary Guidelines 2020-2025 recommends between 46 and 56 grams per day for adults, so a serving of wild rice provides less than 15 percent of your daily protein requirements.

Vitamins and Minerals

Wild rice is not a significant source of vitamins but it is packed with minerals. A serving of wild rice contains 82 milligrams of phosphorus, 32 milligrams of magnesium, and 1.34 milligrams of zinc. 

Calories

Each 3.5-ounce serving of cooked wild rice contains just 101 calories. The USDA Dietary Guidelines 2020-2025 recommends between 1,600 and 2,400 calories per day for adults.

Health Benefits

The nutritional profile of wild rice may aid in disease prevention.

May Support Heart Health

Wild rice is an excellent source of whole grains, which have long been shown to have heart health benefits. Generally, a diet rich in whole grains correlates to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease. Wild rice can also help lower LDL cholesterol, helping to prevent a buildup of fatty plaque in the arteries known as atherogenesis.

May Help Manage Diabetes

Wild rice contains Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), an antioxidant and naturally occurring compound. It has been shown to help manage several diseases, including diabetes. A diet rich in whole grains may also help prevent diabetes.

May Reduce Risk of Colorectal Carcinoma

A diet rich in fiber has been shown to help reduce the risk of colorectal carcinoma and other cancers in the colon. More studies are needed to confirm the link between wild rice consumption and reduced risk of colon cancers, however.

Allergies

An allergy to wild rice is uncommon, but it is possible since it contains protein. Wild rice crops are naturally free of other allergens, such as gluten and dairy, though cross-contamination may occur when the wild rice is manufactured on shared equipment.

Adverse Effects

Wild rice is generally considered safe for human consumption. However, researchers have found heavy metals in some samples of wild rice. Moderately elevated levels of lead, cadmium, and arsenic have been found in some wild rice crops.

Varieties

There are many varieties of wild rice. The four main wild rice varieties include: Zizania aquatic, Zizania palustris, Zizania texana, and Zizania latifolia. Three of these varieties are native to North America and are cultivated as a grain, while the other is native to Asia and is cultivated as a vegetable.

You may also see wild rice blends on grocery store shelves. This is because wild rice is expensive, so it is often blended with other types of rice or quinoa.

How to Prepare

Though it’s not a type of rice, wild rice is grouped with other grains because it cooks like rice and can be used as a substitute for rice. Wild rice is made by bringing the wild rice and water to a boil on the stovetop and letting it simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Since it has a firm, crunchy texture, it may take a long time to fully cook through.

Once cooked, wild rice can be used in salads, pilafs, soups, and other side dishes. It’s also commonly used in casseroles and as part of a stuffing for various meats.

Recipes

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