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Is White Rice Healthy For Toddlers?

Is White Rice Healthy For Toddlers?

Rice is a staple food in most Filipino households, with many of us eating about a cup of it thrice a day, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But, is white rice healthy for young children, particularly toddlers? Will it be okay for them to have daily servings? Find out here.

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What’s in a cup of rice?

Before we answer the question, is white rice healthy for toddlers, let’s first discuss its nutritional contents. According to reports, 1 cup of white rice can offer the following:

  • 5 grams protein
  • 38 grams carbohydrates
  • 5 grams fat
  • 2 grams dietary fiber
  • 200 kcal of energy

Depending on whether it’s enriched or fortified, a cup of white rice may also contain other nutrients such as calcium, iron, sodium, vitamin A and vitamin C, potassium, and folate.

Important:

The nutritional values may vary per brand. Additionally, 1 cup is not the recommended serving size for toddlers. 1 serve for toddlers is only equivalent to ¼ to ⅓ cup of cooked white rice.

Is White Rice Healthy For Toddlers

Where does rice fit within toddler nutrition?

For a toddler to get the necessary nutrients to keep them healthy, they need to eat a variety of food from the following food groups:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Grains
  • Dairy
  • Protein foods
  • Healthy fats

White rice falls under the grains group. And according to experts, toddlers need about 5 to 6 servings of grains daily.

Is white rice healthy for toddlers?

It’s a tricky question to answer. Based on its nutritional content, we can easily see that rice is an excellent source of carbohydrates and energy. However, that’s not the only consideration we need to make.

You see, while rice may be under the grains food group, not all grains are created equal. For instance, experts consider white rice as a “refined” grain, which means it has been processed to extend its shelf life. However, the process also removes some of its original nutrients like iron, fiber, and B vitamins.

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Furthermore, white rice is also considered as a simple sugar. Our body can easily break down its carbohydrate content and there’s a higher chance that it’ll cause a spike in our blood sugar levels. Some studies also link white rice consumption with type 2 diabetes.

For these reasons, experts prefer “whole” grains. Unlike the refined variety, whole grains maintain most of their original nutritional value and they are less likely to cause a blood sugar spike.

What are the alternatives for white rice?

While understanding if white rice is healthy for toddlers is important, experts would like parents to focus more on giving their babies a healthy and balanced diet.

They emphasize that it’s crucial for toddlers to get their nutrients from a variety of foods from all the groups we’ve mentioned earlier.

In other words, even if your chosen white rice brand is healthy, it doesn’t mean that your baby should be consuming it daily. Furthermore, considering that it can affect blood glucose levels, giving your baby a couple of white rice servings per day may not be a good idea.

Why not consider the wholegrain variety of the following products?

  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Cereals
  • Oats

If you want to serve rice to your toddlers, consider choosing brown rice instead.

is white rice healthy for toddlers

Arsenic in white rice – should you worry?

In trying to find out if white rice is healthy for toddlers, you may come across some articles saying that rice contains arsenic, a kind of poison.

It’s true that most rice brands produced in other countries such as the United States have traces of arsenic in them. However, according to the Philippine Rice Institute, those produced here in our country are arsenic-free variants.

Just in case you have imported rice at home, experts say you’ll be safe as long as you eat the right amount. Likewise, you can reduce the amount of arsenic by adding more water in the pot while cooking rice.

Key Takeaways

It may not be a good idea to give a couple of servings of white rice daily to your toddler. Consider choosing its whole grain alternatives and remember that to have a healthy, balanced diet, variety is key. As always, it’s best to consult your child’s pediatrician if you have any concerns about their nutrition.

Learn more about Toddler Nutrition here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

RICE
https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/356554/nutrients
Accessed January 26, 2021

Rice, white, long-grain, parboiled, enriched, cooked, 1 cup
https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=76&contentid=20047-1
Accessed January 26, 2021

Feeding Your Toddler – Ages 1 to 3 Years
https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/13400-feeding-your-toddler—ages-1-to-3-years
Accessed January 26, 2021

Whole Grains
https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/whole-grains/
Accessed January 26, 2021

Whole grains: Hearty options for a healthy diet
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/whole-grains/art-20047826
Accessed January 26, 2021

Phl rice safe from arsenic
https://www.philrice.gov.ph/phl-rice-safe-from-arsenic/
Accessed January 26, 2021

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated May 03
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
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