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Made of finely milled rice, rice flour is commonly substituted for wheat and bleached flours. In addition to substituting rice flour in recipes for bread, cakes, cereals, and beyond, rice flour is commonly used as a thickening agent. Rice flour is readily available in commercial grocery stores, from online retailers, and best of all can be easily made from rice grains at home. Notably, rice flour can be made from a variety of rice grain sources so depending on the rice type, different benefits may be evident. However, store-bought rice flour is typically made from Japonica long-grain rice.
Important Note: Although the science of food and nutrition is ever-evolving, studies on the benefits of using rice flour instead of other flour options are plentiful and consistent. Many of the benefits of consuming rice flour listed herein are tried and true and backed by hundreds of studies each.
Rice Flour is Gluten-Free
Rice Flour is gluten-free therefore it perfectly lends itself to crafting other gluten-free products. For instance, rice flour is commonly used instead of gluten flours such as wheat and white flours in making bread, pizza dough and pasta that are therefore gluten-free. Over the years, many wheat flour substitutes, both synthetic and natural, have been used in said gluten-free products. However, many gluten substitutes lack significant nutritional value. Recent studies indicate that brown rice flour is a highly nutritional, enriching substitute for wheat flour. Lastly, rice flour is an ideal wheat flour substitute in bread, snacks, and cereals for those who are gluten-intolerant.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. There’s no disputing the fact that rice and rice byproducts are inherently gluten-free; this is a well-known fact. Therefore it stands to reason, so long as other glutinous products aren’t incorporated into recipes, that rice flour as a substitute naturally yields gluten-free products.
Protein Packed and Low Glycemic Index
One of the pitfalls of rice flour is that it’s high in carbohydrates which can contribute to instances of hypoglycemia. However, rice flour’s high carbohydrate content is juxtaposed by its high protein content. Beneficially, high-protein rice varieties average just over 10% protein content which is a greater amount of protein than products crafted with alternate flour sources. Best of all, rice flour, which has a respectable protein value in turn, has a low glycemic index. The benefits of consuming foods with a low glycemic index are insurmountable. Such foods contribute to the prevention of coronary disease, regulating blood sugar (which is especially useful to diabetics), appetite control, and improved metabolism. It’s worth noting, however, that brown rice has a much lower, therefore better, glycemic index than white rice.
General Consensus: 4.5/5 and here is why. Rice flour is naturally high in protein while also having a low glycemic index. There’s no doubt these are beneficial properties. However, rice flour’s high carbohydrate content means portion control is imperative.
Around the world, rice and rice flour are linked to stamping out global hunger. The reason for this is that rice is incredibly nourishing. It’s packed with carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and minerals that nourish bodies and combat malnutrition. One of the many reasons rice and rice flour contribute to feeding hunger is that it’s ultra versatile. Rice is cost-effective and so much can be done with it. A single bag of rice can be just as easily consumed plain as it can be ground into a nutritional flour that can be incorporated into pasta, bread, cereal recipes and beyond.
Furthermore, the importance of a protein-rich diet can’t be overstated. When compared to other common protein sources, rice flour falls somewhere in the middle. While it’s not higher in protein composition than meats and cheeses, it is higher in protein than dairy products such as milk and yogurt. What’s more, rice flour is higher in protein content than its counterpart wheat flour. As such, replacing wheat flour with rice flour is a more nutritious, protein-rich option.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. Undoubtedly, rice flour is packed with nutritious properties and is surely a more nutritious option than other flour options. Decades of science indicates that rice and rice flour products can dynamically nourish one’s body.
Easily Digestible and Hypoallergenic
One of the wonderful properties of rice flour is that it’s easily digestible. Consider the fact that for decades, one of the first solid foods introduced by infants has been rice cereal. Rice is soft, colorless, and contains low sodium properties. Each of these facets ensures that rice flour is mild on digestion. Rice flour is also fraught with fiber which moves waste safely through the digestive tract. Interestingly, one of the things that aid in the digestibility of rice flour is the milling process. The milling of rice grains into flour removes bran and germ leaving behind the easily digestible endosperm.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. In and of itself, rice flour is packed with fiber and is an uber mild grain. Infants have been consuming rice cereal for an eternity because of its digestibility. There’s no doubt then that rice flour is gentle on the digestive tract.
High in Fiber
The fiber in whole grains such as rice and its derivative rice flour is instrumental in preventing constipation, diverticulosis, and other pesky digestive issues. Substituting rice flour for alternate flour sources naturally enriches byproducts with dietary fiber where it may not have otherwise been present. Other benefits of increasing fiber intake through the incorporation of rice flour in your diet include staving off hemorrhoids and improving overall gut health. To achieve optimal fiber intake, it’s recommended that adults consume three servings per day. Substituting rice flour or rice flour products where wheat flour is traditionally used can make that a more achievable goal.
General Consensus: 4/5 and here is why. Although rice flour will not improve one’s overall fiber intake by itself, it’s certainly an alternative fiber source to consider.
Rice flour contains small amounts of zinc per serving. Zinc is a mineral that the body requires in trace amounts, such as are present in rice flour, to support a handful of bodily functions. Of note, adequate zinc intake is necessary to supporting a strong immune system. Zinc helps to support the growth of high-performing immune cells that protect the body from viruses and infections. Even a mild zinc deficiency can inhibit the growth of these immunity cells. Rice and therefore rice flour is a rich source of zinc so incorporating it into your diet is useful in maintaining recommended levels of zinc. Lastly, studies of zinc consumption through rice flour indicate that the body does absorb zinc through this method of intake.
General Consensus: 2.5/5 and here is why. Although rice and rice flour inevitably contain trace amounts of Zinc, there are few studies connecting rice flour’s zinc content as an immunity booster. It’s reasonable to consider rice flour as a source of zinc but its overall contribution to immunity cell growth requires further investigation.
Skin Care Uses
Arguably one of the most interesting uses and benefits of rice flour is in skin care products. In fact, rice flour or rice powder as it’s interchangeably called, is commonly used in beauty products. In the case of beauty products, rice flour is used topically as opposed to ingested. Among other nutrients, rice flour is rich in antioxidants which have recently been suggested as beneficial to anti-aging and skin therapies. Specifically, the niosomes in rice flour, when used in topical skin care creams, demonstrated superb hydration which is scientifically linked to anti-aging. Notably, rice flour has been used in face masks, exfoliants, makeup, and other skincare products for many years.
General Consensus: 4/5 and here is why. Research bolstering the use of rice flour, or rice powder as it is called in topical products, has been noted for many years. Although using rice flour in beauty products is more common in Asain countries, such products are worth considering.