Rice is a common staple in many cultures, from Columbia to China, and comes in different varieties. It’s a versatile food that will take on the flavor of anything you cook it with. This means that if you continuously use rice in recipes with different flavor profiles, you’re not likely to get bored of this nutritious grain!
Two types of rice that are commonly eaten around the world are wild rice and basmati rice.
So what is the difference between wild rice and basmati rice? Besides having different colors and texture, with wild rice being multicolored and chewier, one of the main differences is that wild rice grows in the water while basmati rice is grown on soil.
In this article, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about wild rice and basmati rice. By the end, you’ll know the nutritional information, taste, and texture.
Read on to learn everything there is to know about wild rice vs basmati rice.
Surprise! Wild rice actually isn’t rice, but a grass. That means, if you enjoy eating wild rice, you technically enjoy eating grass. Don’t worry, we enjoy it too, and it’s a perfectly edible and healthy grass that can be used in a variety of dishes.
Wild rice is a semi-aquatic grass that originated in the Great Lakes on the border of the United States and Canada. But that’s not the only place that it’s found. Wild rice has also been known to grow naturally in two other places: San Antonio, Texas and Asia.
With that said, thanks to expanding agricultural farming practices, 70% of the wild rice grown in the United States is grown in California.
If you want to purchase wild rice, we recommend going organic. Our personal favorite brand is Lundberg, which you can find on Amazon.
Wild Rice Nutrition
A one-cup cooked serving of wild rice contains:
- 166 calories
- 3 grams of fat
- 35 grams of carbohydrates
- 3 grams of fiber
- 1 gram of sugar
- 7 grams of protein
With a slightly higher protein content than other types of whole grains, wild rice is also a great source of Vitamin B6, magnesium, ﬁber, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, folate, and zinc.
Since wild rice isn’t as popular as other whole grains, such as brown rice or freekeh, there aren’t as many studies to show the nutritional benefits of eating wild rice regularly.
However, there has been a study that has shown that wild rice is a high-antioxidant food, with an antioxidant count that is 30 times higher than white rice. We think that’s pretty amazing!
With all the hype around berries containing antioxidants, it’s nice to hear that there is another source of antioxidants out there, just in case you don’t have access to berries.
While we’re on the topic, it’s a great idea is to freeze berries so you can eat them throughout the winter months in addition to adding wild rice to your diet.
Flavor and Texture of Wild Rice
Wild rice does not taste how it smells, at least in our opinion. It has been described as having a floral black tea aroma while tasting nutty and earthy. The texture is firm with a slight chewiness.
It’s not fluffy like basmati rice (as we’ll discuss below), but it still has a nice texture, unless it’s undercooked. Undercooked wild rice has a hard texture that is difficult to chew, so it’s important to follow cooking instructions and make sure your wild rice has softened enough to eat.
Basmati rice is actually…rice. Unlike wild rice, which, as we mentioned, is actually a grass, basmati rice is exactly as it’s described.
There are two types of basmati rice: brown and white. We will go into the specific differences between the two in just a little bit.
Basmati rice originates in the Himalayas of India, where over two-thirds of the world’s supply is grown. It is also produced in Pakistan.
Basmati rice, especially white basmati rice, is served in many types of cultural dishes and is the main ingredient in biryani—a delicious Indian rice dish that comes in many varieties.
Basmati Rice Nutrition
“Basmati” comes from the Hindi word “fragrant” and perfectly describes the distinct nutty smell that most of us are familiar with upon opening a bag of basmati rice.
Apart from smelling amazing, is it amazing for you? The answer depends on whether you’re consuming brown or white basmati, as well as what you’re eating it with. We’re not going to go into food combining in this article, but it might be something worth looking into when it comes to eating rice.
Brown Basmati Rice Nutrition
One-fourth of a cup of brown basmati rice (dry) contains the following:
- 180 calories
- 1.5 grams of fat
- 0 grams of sugar
- 4 grams of fiber
- 5 grams of protein
Looking at those ratios, we’d say that at first glance brown basmati rice is super healthy! There is, however, something you want to be aware of before consuming brown rice in large quantities.
You can find brown basmati rice from Lundberg on Amazon.
The thing that you need to know about brown rice is that it contains arsenic. Brown rice has higher levels of arsenic than any other type of rice.
What is arsenic? Arsenic is a naturally occurring element that is found in soil, air, and water. This type of arsenic isn’t harmful to us, but there is another type of arsenic that is considered inorganic arsenic and is created by human production processes.
Inorganic arsenic is considered toxic to humans, and it’s the kind of arsenic that you will find in rice.
The reason rice contains inorganic (toxic) arsenic is because the plant absorbs it while it’s growing and ends up in the end-product and, subsequently, your dinner plate.
With that said, as long as you don’t eat copious amounts of brown rice for every single meal, you should be safe eating it, as the arsenic content is not a reason to avoid it completely. It is more something to be conscious of.
One way to consume less arsenic is why choosing white rice over brown rice. While brown rice might have a leg up on white rice due to it’s higher protein and fiber content, white basmati rice is also a good choice and will help you consume less arsenic.
Flavor and Texture of Brown Basmati Rice
Brown basmati rice is typically described as having a nutty and earthy flavor. When it’s cooked, it has a fluffy, firm but chewy texture thanks to its high fiber content.
White Basmati Rice Nutrition
125 grams of white basmati rice (dry) contains the following:
- 170 calories
- 3 grams of fat
- 1 gram of sugar
- 3 grams of protein
At first glance, white basmati rice doesn’t look quite as healthy as brown basmati rice, with a higher sugar count and less protein, but it’s worth considering that white basmati rice contains less arsenic than brown basmati rice.
You can find Lundberg’s white basmati rice on Amazon.
Flavor and Texture of White Basmati Rice
White basmati rice is slightly floral and a little less nutty than brown basmati rice. It’s also a little softer but still has a satisfying chewy texture to it.
Is Basmati Rice Bleached?
No, basmati rice is not traditionally bleached.
The reason white basmati rice is white is that the bran has been hulled and removed.
Removing the bran of the rice takes away some of the nutritional content, but it doesn’t mean that basmati rice is unhealthy. In fact, basmati rice is a staple food in many countries that are generally known to have excellent health, including China and Japan.
The difference between brown basmati rice and white basmati rice is that white rice has been stripped of most nutrients through processing, which includes the removal of the bran, husk, and germ.
The husk is always removed from rice before it is edible, even brown rice, so we won’t worry about that.
The bran and germ, however, contain valuable nutrients that are lost during the stripping process that creates white rice. When the bran and germ are removed from rice, you lose fiber along with B vitamins and other nutrients.
Which Is Healthier: Wild Rice or Basmati Rice?
Both wild rice and basmati rice have different nutrients that are beneficial, but if we had to pick one over the other, we’d have to go with wild rice.
Due to it’s higher protein, fiber, and antioxidant levels, wild rice comes out on top as the healthier option.
With that said, if you can tolerate grains, we recommend alternating between wild rice and basmati rice to make sure you are eating a well-rounded diet.
We hope we’ve cleared the air about the difference between wild rice and basmati rice and given you the information you need to make your decision on which one to consume. Below are some related questions that you may be wondering.
Is Wild Rice Good for Weight Loss?
Coming in at 166 calories per one-cup serving, as well as the protein content, wild rice is a worthy candidate to include in your weight loss program.
Granted, everyone’s goals are different, and if you’re on a keto diet, neither wild rice nor basmati rice will be suitable options for you. If you are focusing your diet on whole plant-based foods, then wild rice is a wonderful addition to your weight loss regime.
We recommend consulting with a dietician about specific foods that will benefit your individual health plan.