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Rice Noodles – Are They Healthy?

Noodles are universal favourites. But they are not very healthy. However, we cannot generalise anything, can we? So now, with awareness and more options, we have been introduced to healthy noodles, low on carbs, good in proteins, and easily digestible. As the word suggests, rice noodles are noodles made from rice. Rice is the seed of the grass species Oryza sativa (Asian rice) or, less commonly, Oryza Glaberrima (African rice). The principal ingredients are rice flour, water, and tapioca starch for texture. While their place of origin is China, rice noodles are the most common cuisine in east, southeast, and south Asia. 

Rice noodles are brittle when raw. On cooking, they turn translucent and chewy. They cook very fast and may turn pulpy if overcooked. Rice noodles are fresh, frozen, dried or in various shapes and thicknesses. Fresh noodles are highly perishable, so their shelf life is short. One advantage is that they are gluten-free, which is great for those who are gluten intolerant. 

Nutritional Value of Rice Noodles

As per USDA, 100 g of cooked rice noodles contain: 

Calories:108 kCalProtein:1.79 gFat:0.2 gCarbohydrates:24 gFibre:1 g

Vitamins and Minerals

Phosphorus:20 mgSodium:19 mgCalcium:4 mgPotassium:4 mgIron:0.14 mgZinc:0.25mgSelenium:4.5 µg

Health Benefits of Rice Noodles

Rice Noodles offer multiple health benefits. For example, it’s a boon for people with gluten allergies. In addition, it proves to be a blessing for overweight individuals. The low-calorie and low-fat count of rice noodles make it a perfect dish for individuals in their weight loss journey. Finally, with abundant selenium, it is the ideal snack for people with asthma, thyroid and heart problems, etc.

Some of the other significant benefits of rice noodles are:

Gluten-Free

Rice is naturally gluten-free. Not just one form, but all forms of this grain, be it wild, white, or brown, are entirely gluten-free. In addition, rice noodles do not contain wheat flour, making them gluten-free and a perfect choice for gluten intolerance or Celiac disease patients. In celiac patients, even a tiny amount of gluten can lead to the malabsorption of some crucial nutrients. Therefore, it becomes essential to introduce a gluten-free diet to such individuals.

People with such diseases now do not need to compromise with gluten-free rice, which has a bland taste, as even studies suggest that rice noodles with gelatinised starch make it a tastier alternative. It also proves to be the perfect alternative for wheat flour as it resembles wheat in the form of colour and texture by eliminating the gluten part.

High Selenium Content

Rice is a rich source of Selenium (Se). It is a powerful antioxidant and immunity booster. It helps in preventing mental decline and is also essential for thyroid health. Apart from this, it may also reduce the risk of certain cancers. A study shows that different Se nanoparticles have anti-cancer properties and are helpful for cancer treatment.

Rice Noodles are Low in Fat

Rice noodles are low in fat and moderate in calories. It has been found in the research that rice flour just has 0.4-0.8% fat. And this characteristic of rice makes it popular in weight loss diets. When paired with high-fibre veggies and tasty sauces, rice noodles become a perfect addition to your weight-loss diet without compromising on flavour.

Rich in Phosphorus

The primary function of phosphorus is in the formation of bones and teeth. It plays a vital role in using carbohydrates and fats in the body. It is also needed for the body to make protein for the growth, maintenance, and repair of cells and tissues. Studies show that the phosphorus level in the diet is essential in preventing tooth decay.

Low in Sodium

As per USDA, rice noodles have just 19 milligrams of sodium per 100 grams of portions. Our body needs very low sodium. High sodium can raise blood pressure and cause heart diseases and strokes. High sodium intake also troubles the kidneys as it increases blood pressure. Research shows that reducing sodium intake below the Chronic Disease Risk Reduction level (CDRR) is expected to lower the risk of chronic disease in the general healthy population. Evidence shows that salt can damage heartwater and kidneys without raising blood pressure.

Rice Noodle are Easy to Digest

Rice noodles are delicious and easily digestible due to their high glycemic index. A study shows that a high glycemic index makes food easily digestible by raising blood sugar levels. A high glycemic index means the body can easily break down its sugars. However, these foods can substantially increase blood sugar. Rice noodles have simple carbohydrates such as rice, making them easier to digest. However, it would help if you consumed them in moderation since high GI poses an increased risk of diabetes.

Rich in Magnesium

Magnesium is involved in hundreds of biochemical functions in our body. It helps in boosting exercise performance and helps in fighting depression. It is also crucial in preventing migraine attacks and helps in promoting heart health. Furthermore, It also helps regulate muscle and nerve functions, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and protein in bones and DNA. It is also good for better sleep. A study proves that low magnesium levels in the body can lead to sleep disturbances.

Acts as Prebiotic

Probiotics feed friendly bacteria in the gut by improving gut health. Resistant starch in rice reaches the colon and feeds good bacteria, increasing bacteria production in the gut. The process produces butyric acid, which can reduce inflammation. 

A study also suggests that it helps in bowel disorders, such as lactose intolerance, antibiotic-associated diarrhoea, infection, and erosion. Even dieticians prescribe the BRAT (Banana’s, Rice, Applesauce, Toast) diet, especially for children with an upset stomach. It is one of the best for probiotics, where ‘R’ represents rice.

The HealthifyMe Note

Since rice noodles consist of rice, they are perfectly healthy. Their gluten-free property, low fat and carbs make them a good choice for those who want to lose or maintain weight. In addition, it’s very high in the mineral selenium, which helps in reducing the frequency of DNA adducts and chromosome breaks. Also, it protects the body against infections. It is also rich in minerals like folic acid and iron.

Tips and Tricks to Make Rice Noodles More Healthy

Vegetables are the perfect solution for staying healthy. For example, one can make noodles more nutritious by adding rainbow-coloured veggies. That makes it more appealing to children and increases its health benefits as every vegetable has its advantages. For example, carrots are perfect for increasing eyesight, improving blood pressure, improving skin texture, and reducing the risk of heart diseases and cancer.

Keep it Simple

Adding lots of spices and condiments diminishes their nutritional properties, so using them as little as possible is advisable. Adding sauces and packet seasonings add more sodium and turn them unhealthy. For example, adding flavour sauces can lead to stomach disorders like bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, and nausea. Instead, try keeping it simple by adding healthy veggies and cooking it in olive oil to increase its nutritional content.

Recipes Using Rice Noodles

Thai Rice Noodle Salad

Servings: 6

Preparation Time: 15 min

Cooking Time: 7 min

Total Time: 22 min

Ingredients:

Dried vermicelli rice noodles: 8 ouncesBean sprouts: 1-2 cupsMedium carrots: 2 (cut into matchsticks)Green onions: 4 (thinly sliced)Green bell pepper: 1Red or orange pepper: 1 (thinly sliced)Cooked shrimp/ tofu: 1 canFresh cilantro: 1 cupChopped fresh basil: ½ cupDry roasted peanuts: ¼ cup

Dressing:

Lime juice: ⅓ cupFish sauce: 3 tbspSoy sauce: 3tbspSugar: 2-3tspChilli sauce: 1-3tspMinced garlic cloves: 2Sesame oil: 1tsp

Procedure

Prepare the dressing in a small bowl. Combine lemon juice, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, chilli sauce, garlic and sesame oil.Lightly boil rice noodles for about 7 minutes.Drain and place in a large salad bowl. Add bean sprouts, tomatoes, carrot, green onion, bell peppers, shrimp, tofu, and cilantro.Toss with the dressing. Garnish with basil, cilantro and peanuts. 

Nutritional Value per Serving

Calories: 179 kcalCarbohydrates: 31 gProtein: 6 gFat: 4 gSodium: 1237 mgFibre: 4 gCoconut Rice Noodles

Servings: 6

Preparation Time: 5 min

Cooking Time: 20 min

Total Time: 25 min

Ingredients:

Rice noodles: 450 gCoconut oil: 2 tbspMustard seeds: 1 tspBlack gram: 1 tbspCashews: 3 tbspLarge red onion: 1 (thinly sliced)Thai green/red chillies: 1 cupCurry leaves: 8-10Freshly grated coconut: 1 cupSalt: to taste

Procedure

Boil noodles in a large pot until they turn soft. Set aside for a few minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.Heat coconut oil on a medium flame. Add mustard seeds and heat till they pop. Add cashews followed by black grams. Cook until they turn golden-brown.Add the noodles and salt. Mix well and heat for about two minutes. Serve with plum chutney or dal.

Nutritional Value per Serving

Calories: 416 kcalCarbohydrates: 72 gProtein: 5 gFat: 12 gSodium: 144 mgFibre: 4 gSugar: 3 g

Potential Health Risks of Rice Noodles

Allergy

Although these allergies still can develop in anyone, a study shows that rice can cause IgE-related food allergies. According to a report, raw rice can cause hives. Research also discovered a patient exhibiting the symptoms of allergies by exposure to two different forms of rice. 

Instant Noodles Contain MSG

Most instant noodles contain msg. According to research consuming MSG can lead to weight gain and specific problems like headaches, nausea, and migraine. It can also negatively impact brain health and cause the death of mature brain cells.

Excess is Always Harmful

Although rice noodles are low in sodium, excessive intake can lead to higher blood pressure and blood sugar. Therefore, one must take care while consuming instant noodles. Avoid adding too many sauces like soy sauce to keep the nutrition value intact since it can sometimes lead to kidney diseases and obesity. A study shows that it negatively affects BB values and Coronary kidney patients.

Regular Noodles vs Rice Noodles

Both the noodles are somewhat equal in terms of calories, with rice noodles having 108 calories and regular pasta having 157 calories per 100 gram cooked serving. However, regular pasta has more protein than rice noodles when it comes to protein content. Carbohydrates again have a similar nutritional value, with pasta having 30.7 g and rice noodles with the value of 24 g per 100-gram cooked serving.

Vitamins and minerals are higher in regular noodles than in rice noodles. For example, traditional noodles have more iron, calcium, and zinc than rice noodles. The main difference lies with the sodium content of rice noodles, as 100 grams of a serving of cooked noodles has 232 mg of sodium while rice noodles just have 19 mg.

Rice noodles have a high glycemic index, making them easy to digest. In addition, unlike regular noodles, rice noodles are gluten-free, making them perfect for patients suffering from gluten intolerance or allergies and for celiac patients. Furthermore, they are suitable for a low-middle-income group since it is pocket friendly.

Summary

Rice noodles are simple noodles made from rice. It is a boon for patients suffering from gluten intolerance and celiac diseases. Furthermore, it’s a low carb, low fat, low sodium, and high potassium snack. It originated in China, and the Asian population consumes it as their staple food. It is easily digestible, making it suitable for several types of recipes as a substitute for regular noodles. Although it is a reasonably good snack, it also has some cons. In some instances, it may cause allergies and have side effects like headaches and nausea if it contains MSG.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQS)

Q. Are Rice noodles healthy? 

A. Rice noodles are perfectly healthy and make a great addition to our diet. Still, they are lower in fibres than other noodles, such as whole wheat noodles. More fibre supports beneficial gut bacteria, good health, and blood sugar management. Thus, rice noodles lose some marks on that count. However, it is gluten-free, making it ideal for people with gluten allergies and digestive issues. 

Q. Do rice noodles increase weight?

A. Rice is low in fat and carbs. As a low-fat carb choice, rice noodles can provide a filling base for a meal without worrying about fat content. However, the cooking method can significantly increase the fat content. For example, rice noodles in a stir fry dish can significantly raise fat content.

Q. Are rice noodles healthy carbs?

A. Yes, they are majorly good sources for cabs. Unlike other noodles, rice is a natural grain, and noodles made from it are not just gluten-free but low in sodium, high in phosphorus, and a rich source of selenium. It is also perfect for those who follow a gluten-free diet.

Q. Are rice noodles keto?

A. No, rice is a starchy food. A keto diet is supposed to have very low or no carbs. Noodles made from rice are not keto-friendly since they are high in carbs. 

Q. Which noodle is best for weight loss?

A. Shirataki noodles are an excellent substitute for traditional leaders. In addition, they are extremely low in calories, help you feel full and may be beneficial for weight loss. Not only that, but they also have benefits for blood sugar level, cholesterol and digestive health.

Q. Are rice noodles heart-healthy?

A. Rice noodles are rich in magnesium in selenium. They also contain 12% of daily selenium and act as an antioxidant that can help lower the risk for heart disease and other chronic diseases.

Q. Do rice noodles give you gas?

A. Although all the starch, including potatoes, corn, noodles, and wheat, produce gas as they break down in the large intestine. But rice is the only star that does not give you gas. So, rice noodles don’t give you any gas.

Q. Are rice noodles bloating?

A. Rice noodles don’t cause any gas. It also doesn’t cause any bloating. But adding different kinds of sauces, packet condiments, and spices like msg can cause bloating.

Q. Do rice noodles cause constipation?

A. In rice husk, bran and germ have been removed, lowering its fibre content, so processed grains and their products, such as white rice, white pasta, and white bread, contain less fibre. Thus rice noodles can cause constipation.

Q. Is rice noodles easy to digest?

A. Rice products are low in fat and fibre, making them good for the stomach. In addition, its high glycemic index means the body breaks the sugars down faster, releasing sugars more rapidly into the bloodstream. As a result, the body will easily break down sugar and make it easy to digest.

Q. Is rice noodles good for cholesterol?

A. As plain rice noodles are virtually fat-free, it does not impact cholesterol levels. But one must take care of the variety and number of servings.

Q. Is rice noodles gluten-free?

A. Yes, rice noodles are naturally gluten-free. While making rice noodles, only three ingredients, rice, flour and water, are used, and none of them has gluten content. That makes rice noodles completely gluten-free. But before buying it, one must read the ingredients list to be sure. 

Q. Are rice noodles healthier than egg noodles?

A. Rice noodles are lower in calories, fat, and protein than egg noodles. They also have more carbohydrates. One cup of cooked rice noodles made with white rice has about 193 calories, 0.4 grams of fat, 43.8 grams of carbohydrates, 1.8 grams of fibre, and 1.6 grams of protein. One cup of cooked egg noodles provides 221 calories, 7.26 g of proteins, 40.6 g of carbs and 1.92 g of fibre.

Q. Are rice noodles healthier than wheat noodles?

A. Yes, rice noodles are generally lower in protein, fibre, sodium, and selenium. However, they have a similar number of carbs. Notably, rice noodles have fewer calories than wheat noodles.

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