Is rice high in protein?

This article will answer the query “Is rice high in protein?”, in addition, it will present the main types of rice and their nutritional composition; the health benefits and risks associated with rice, and some tips on how to make different rice-based foods.

Is rice high in protein?

No, unfortunately, rice is not high in protein but in carbohydrates (1,2). However, you can find slightly more protein in whole grains like brown rice. Besides, this latter also contains more fiber and antioxidants.

Why is rice not a good source of protein?

Rice is not a good source of proteins because cereals use starch as their main energy storage. Plants use this starch within grains to germinate, feed all plant tissues, and also for growth (3).

Another important aspect is the protein quality; it is measured by the content of the nine essential amino acids, those that you need to consume through foods. These amino acids are Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Cysteine, Phenylalanine, Tryptophan, and Valine (,4).

You can see the content of each amino acid in rice in the following table:

Amino acidContent (mg/g protein)FAO recommended intake for adults
Methionine + Cysteine3822

*Adapted from Day L (4) and FAO (5)

What is the protein content of different types of rice?

100 g of cooked rice (both white and brown) contain no more than 2.7 g of protein (1,2). You can find slightly more protein (3.9 g) in wild rice (6). But this is much less than the 20 g protein you can find in breast chicken! (7)

How much protein does rice have compared to other cereals?

Compared to other cereals, rice is the one with the lowest protein content (4). You can find this information in the following table:

Cereal (raw)Protein content (%)
Rice7 – 9 
Maize9 – 12
Wheat8 – 15
Sorghum9 – 17

*Adapted from Day L. (4)

If you are looking for a cereal with the highest protein, maybe rice is not the best choice.

What are the health benefits of rice?

The health benefits of rice will be determined by the type of rice. The white rice will provide you fewer benefits, because it only contains carbohydrates and fiber. So, you can only have the benefits of fiber, like improving your gut’s health and regulating your digestion (8).

On the other hand, brown rice has a lot of components with health benefits, because most of them are concentrated in the bran. For instance, it has minerals, vitamins, phytosterols, and antioxidants. These components can help to prevent some diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancer types (8).

Independently of the type of rice you choose, both of them are gluten-free, so if you are gluten sensitive or have celiac disease, this cereal will not cause you any harm (9).

What are the potential health risks of rice?

There are some potential health risks of consuming rice. Fungi like Aspergillus and Penicillium could infect rice and produce toxins, such as Ochratoxin A. This toxin has been linked to an increase in risk of having cancer (10). 

You can rest assured, there are several regulations on Ochratoxin A in cereals. If you choose the best brands of rice in your country, it is very unlikely to have a contaminated product (10).

Another health concern in rice is the presence of Arsenic. This metal is mainly caused by the pollution of water (more likely in Asian regions). Washing your rice before cooking is one of the best tips you can adopt, almost 85 % of Arsenic can be eliminated this way (11).

In summary, yes, there are some health concerns about rice consumption, but you can prevent health risks by simple actions like choosing a good rice brand and washing it very well before cooking.

How can you incorporate rice in your diet?

Incorporating rice is very simple, you can cook rice and consume it as a complement to your main dish. You can also make sushi, a poke bowl, or buy rice-based breakfast cereals; even better, you can click on this link to try a lot of delicious recipes.


This article answered the query “Is rice high in protein?”, in addition, it presented the main types of rice and their nutritional composition; the health benefits and risks associated with rice, and some tips on how to make different rice-based foods.


  1. FoodData central [Internet]. [cited 26 Apr. 2023]. Available from:
  1. FoodData central [Internet]. [cited 26 Apr. 2023]. Available from: :
  1. Huang L, Tan H, Zhang C, Li Q, Liu Q. Starch biosynthesis in cereal endosperms: An updated review over the last decade. Plant Commun, 2021;2(5):100237.
  1. Day L. Proteins from land plants – Potential resources for human nutrition and food security. Trends Food Sci Technol, 2013;32(1):25–42.
  1. FAO Expert Consultation. Dietary protein quality evaluation in human nutrition. FAO Food Nutr. Pap. 2013, 92, 1–66.
  1. FoodData central [Internet]. [cited 26 Apr. 2023]. Available from: 
  1. FoodData central [Internet]. [cited 26 Apr. 2023]. Available from:
  1. Saleh ASM, Wang P, Wang N, Yang L, Xiao Z. Brown rice versus white rice: Nutritional quality, potential health benefits, development of food products, and preservation technologies. Compr Rev Food Sci Food Saf, 2019;18(4):1070–96.
  1. Wieser H, Segura V, Ruiz-Carnicer Á, Sousa C, Comino I. Food safety and cross-contamination of gluten-free products: A narrative review. Nutrients, 2021, 13(7), 2244.
  1. Malir F, Ostry V, Pfohl-Leszkowicz A, Malir J, Toman J. Ochratoxin A: 50 years of research. Toxins, 2016;8(7):191.
  1. Kumarathilaka P, Seneweera S, Ok YS, Meharg A, Bundschuh J. Arsenic in cooked rice foods: Assessing health risks and mitigation options. Environ Int, 2019;127:584–91.

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