Are Rice Cakes Really Good For You?

Rice CakesRice cakes were a big “diet” aid back in the 80s and 90s, but you may wonder if you should still be eating them. They are made from puffed rice pressed together into a cake. Rice cakes are often used as a low-calorie substitute for bread and crackers. They do come in flavors, but the most basic kind is made only from rice and maybe, a little salt. If you think they're pretty bland, you're right!

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Low In Nutrients

Rice cakes are basically rice and air, so they don't boast an impressive nutrient profile. One plain brown rice cake contains 35 calories, 7.3 grams of carbs, 0.4 grams of fiber, 0.7 grams of protein, and 0.3 grams of fat. They also contain minimal amounts of vitamin E, riboflavin, vitamin B6, iron, potassium, zinc, and copper. But, they contain 4% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) of niacin, 3% of the RDI for magnesium, 3% of phosphorus and 17% of manganese. The sodium content depends on whether they're salted or not.

Additionally, in puffing the rice can decrease the rice's antioxidant content. Keep in mind, these nutrition facts are for plain rice cakes, flavored varieties often contain added sugars as well as other ingredients.

Are They Healthy?

Race cakes can have some positive and negative health effects. First, some contain whole grains, so look for them made using whole-grain brown rice. However, a lot of rice cakes on the market don't use whole grains so read the label to make sure!

If the rice cakes are made solely from rice, they will be gluten-free. But, some varieties can contain gluten-containing grains, so again, make sure to read the labels! Rice cakes are widely available, which makes them a convenient gluten-free option when you are traveling.

Rice cakes may raise your blood sugar. They usually have a glycemic index (GI) score of more than 70. This indicates how quickly a food raises your blood sugar levels, and 70 is considered high-glycemic. No matter what, they're mostly carbs with very little protein and fiber to slow down the effect of these carbs on your blood sugar. If you are eating rice cakes, try to blunt the effect on your blood sugar by adding some protein. The best choices for these proteins are lean-meat, cheese, hummus. Plus you'll want to add some fiber in the form of fruits or vegetables.

The Bottom Line on Rice Cakes

While rice cakes may be lower in calories than bread, they are also lower in fiber and other important nutrients. Plain, whole-grain brown rice varieties may be a little healthier, but this gluten-free food is still likely to spike your blood sugar. To dull this effect, it's best to eat them with protein and fiber.

Rice cakes may be a common diet food, but there is no real benefit to eating them if you don't like them.

Are you looking for other diet tips? Let me know in the comments and I'll find some answers for you!

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