Rice is one of the most important commodities in the world and directly feeds more people than any other crop. Because of this, it is a staple food in many countries. However, what else is there to know about this wonder crop? See for yourself with these rice facts.
- Rice is a staple food in low and lower-middle-income countries.
- More than half of the world’s population eats rice with at least 20% of their daily calorie intake.
- Wheat, corn, and rice are the world’s three leading food crops.
- There are more than 40,000 varieties of rice.
- Close to 50% of the calories consumed by the entire human population comes from wheat, corn, and rice.
- Laos, Bangladesh, and Cambodia ranks the highest in rice consumption per capita.
- China as a whole consumes the most rice in the world.
- China and India are the world’s largest rice producers.
- Compared to all the continents, Asia’s rice consumption is very high. Most rice-eating Asian countries exceed 100 kg per capita, each year.
- Rice is the fastest-growing staple food in Africa and Latin America.
- The poorest countries consume the least wheat.
- The United States has the least consumption of rice in the world. The average American only eats up to 10 cups of rice for the whole year, while an Asian may eat 5 to 10 cups of rice per day.
- If stored properly, uncooked white rice can remain fresh and edible for 10-30 years.
- A single seed of rice will result in over 3,000 grains.
- Rice is grown in almost every part of the world, except in Antarctica.
- Rice has minerals and antioxidants that keep the skin soft and smooth.
- The Great Wall of China was built with rice.
- Wild rice is not rice at all. Wild rice is a distant relative of commercial rice.
- All white rice came from brown rice. It’s just that the white rice’s outer bran layer is polished to make the rice taste better.
- Oryza Sativa is the scientific name for Asian rice.
Rice Facts Infographics
Brown rice contains more fiber than white rice.
Brown rice is a popular choice for people with dietary restrictions. Unlike white rice, brown rice retains the fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants found in whole grain, while white rice is stripped of these nutrients – providing “empty” calories.
Rice has many health benefits.
Rice provides fast and instant energy. It regulates and improves bowel movements, slows down the aging process, and stabilizes blood sugar levels, while also giving an essential source of vitamin B1.
The Banaue Rice Terraces of the Philippines is listed as the "Eighth Wonder of the World".
The Philippines ranks among the countries that consume the most rice. In fact, the Ifugao province features 2,000-year-old rice terraces that were hand-carved into the mountains by ancestors of the indigenous people. How’s that for cool rice facts?
Growing rice takes a lot of water.
Rice requires a lot of water to grow. Rice cultivation needs approximately 5,000 liters of water just to produce 1 kilogram of rice.
Japanese rice is renowned around the world for its quality.
Japan has a sufficient amount of rain and most of its rice is planted through the process of wet cultivation. Rice planting season in the country generally starts in the spring, with cultivation in the summer, and harvest in the fall.
Honda means “the main rice field” in Japanese.
Although the famous car manufacturer Honda got its name from its founder, Soichiro Honda, the term translates to “the main rice field” in Japanese.
Cooked rice spoils easily.
Well-stored uncooked rice may last from 10 to 30 years. However, cooked rice is prone to spoilage if left at room temperature. It’s always better to cook the right amount, and store leftovers properly in the fridge.
A high carb diet can cause a cycle of food cravings.
Some people tend to avoid rice or any carbs in general. The main concern with rice or other carbs is that they cause a cycle of cravings because of the sudden spike in glucose levels after consuming them.
Refinement is the key difference between white and brown rice.
When refined, the white rice removes all the parts of the seed except for the endosperm. On the other hand, brown rice removes only the external layer of the seed leaving the endosperm, awn, germ, and bran behind. This is why brown rice is believed to be healthier, although it costs more.
Brown rice contains phytic acid.
In terms of macronutrients, a cup of brown rice has 40% more protein and twice as much fiber compared to white rice.
Brown rice may not be as "healthy" as people believe.
The nutrition content of brown rice might seem too good to be true – and it does come with its downsides. Even though brown rice contains more nutrients, a study suggests that substances in brown rice inhibit the body’s absorption rate. As a result, consuming white rice may yield more nutrients than brown rice. The study argues that while brown rice has more micronutrients, its fiber and phytate content cancels out these nutrients.
The brown rice's main strength is its effect on diabetes.
Despite the disadvantages of brown rice, the brown rice’s main strength is its effect on diabetes. White rice can increase the risk of diabetes by over 10% for each daily serving. Meanwhile, consuming brown rice can decrease the risk of diabetes by 16%.
Rice is naturally gluten-free.
In its natural form, all rice varieties are gluten-free. On the other hand, the term ‘glutinous rice’ applies to a sticky type of rice and not the gluten found in barley, rye, and wheat. As a result, gluten-sensitive people or those with celiac disease can include rice in their diets.
Japonica and Indica rice are the two major subspecies of Oryza Sativa.
Japonica rice is one of the main domestic varieties of Asian rice and extensively cultivated and consumed in Japan, China, and Korea. Meanwhile, the Indica rice is the most common type of rice for most regions in the East.
Rice with high amylose does not stick together after cooking.
Amylose is the crystallized form of starch, consisting of long unbranched carbohydrate molecules. If rice is rich in amylose, it will not stick together after cooking – instead appearing like loose grains. A good example of amylose-rich rice is basmati rice.
Several countries produce basmati rice.
India is the largest producer of Basmati Rice. The country accounts for more than 50% of its output in the global Basmati Rice market. Pakistan, Indonesia, and Nepal are also known to cultivate and plant Basmati.
Basmati rice claims to have several health benefits.
Basmati rice claims to have many benefits such as lowering saturated fats, preventing the formation of cancer cells, being diabetes-friendly, and aiding with digestion and weight loss.
Paella is a famous rice-based seafood dish from Spain.
Paella is one of the most common and favorite rice dishes. The dish originated from Spain. The dish transformed in many versions aside from seafood. Today, Paella can be mixed with chicken, rabbit, beans, or snails.
Sticky rice contains the highest amount of amylopectin.
Sticky rice, also known as waxy, sweet or glutinous rice contains the highest amount of amylopectin and no amylose. It is very sticky and often used to make signature sweet dishes in Asia such as rice cakes.
Rice is an annual plant.
Therefore, it is only is harvested once a year. Rice farming is suitable for countries with low labor costs and high rainfall as it is very labor-intensive and it demands huge amounts of water for cultivation.
Evidence points that rice originated from China in 2000 BC.
However, according to some research, it shows that rice may have been indigenous to India and Pakistan much earlier.
Africa is one of the oldest rice producers after Asia.
Rice production in Africa dates back to 1500-800 BC. The rice industry developed from its center, the Niger River delta, and trade spread to Senegal. However, it did not develop far from its original region during those years.
Rice helps Africans conquer famine.
The main causes of famine in Africa are poverty, political instability, drought, and high food costs. However, the continuous drought in the area has affected crop production, which leads to food inflation.
British settlers in Australia tried their best to grow rice.
Rice is one of the earliest crops planted by British settlers in Australia since they had experience with rice plantations in the Americas and the subcontinent. However, the simultaneous attempts would continue to fail during those years because of manganese and iron toxicities in the soils, as well as pests infecting the area.
Murrumbidgee and Murray valleys are Australia's top rice producers.
Today, the Murrumbidgee and Murray valleys of New South Wales lead rice production in Australia.
Some experts would argue that Australia should stop planting rice.
Some experts would argue that Australia should stop planting rice because it’s a “thirsty crop” and uses as much as 10 times more water compared to other crops. Furthermore, Australia is facing a water shortage along with its growing population.
Rice plays a part in Chinese folklore.
In China, young girls are told that they should finish all of the rice on their plates because otherwise, each grain of rice would represent each scar, pimple or blemish on their future husband’s face.