Wild rice is one of the gluten-free superfoods. It is thought to be the most decadent grain with its distinctive, nutty, earthy flavour. It actually isn’t even rice, so it is gluten-free, which is good news for many of us.
It has become very popular in recent years, as it is so tasty, and because we have learned that it has an abundance of minerals and vitamins. The health benefits are mostly related to nutrition. There are not many scientific studies that are not done on animals so of course, I will not refer to them.
Health Benefits of Wild Rice
High in Protein with Less Calories
It has 40% more protein and about 30% fewer calories than brown rice. The protein in wild rice contains all of the essential amino acids making it a complete protein which is great for vegetarians and vegans.
2. Good for the Heart
It was shown in experiments, that long-term consumption of wild rice had cardiovascular benefits. – University of Manitoba, Canada, 2014.
Although there is little research on wild rice, 45 studies found that those who ate whole grains, which includes wild rice, had less heart disease.
3. High in Antioxidants
We need antioxidants to be healthy as they reduce the risk of several diseases, including cancer. Wild rice is very high in antioxidants as found by the research at the University of Minnesota.
An analysis of 11 different samples of wild rice at the University of Manitoba, in Canada, found that it has 30 times more antioxidants than white rice.
4. Reduces Plaque in Arteries
It was also found that eating at least 6 servings of whole grains a week reduced the buildup of plaque in arteries in postmenopausal women. ~ Tufts University, Boston
5. Can Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
It has been found that eating whole grains like wild rice lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes by 20–30%, according to research.
Eating whole grains is associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, but eating refined grains such as white rice is associated with an increased risk according to 16 studies.
It is gluten-free like brown rice, millet, and quinoa.
It is generally fine, however, it can be contaminated with ergot or heavy metals. Ergot toxicity shows up in infected grains with pink or purplish spots that are visible to the human eye. Ergot toxicity in humans is very rare. Just like regular rice, it can contain heavy metals. This should not be a concern for people who eat a varied diet.
Wild Rice Nutrition
It is low in calories and high in nutrients making it a nutrient-dense food.
1 cup of cooked wild rice has 166 calories, 6.5 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, 13% of the DV for manganese, 15% of the DV for zinc, 13% of the DV for magnesium, 13% of the DVs for phosphorus and also small amounts of iron, potassium and selenium. For full nutrition, details go to Wild Rice Nutrition.
What is Wild Rice?
It is a grass that grows in water (lakes, rivers, and bays) at two and four feet deep. Germinating begins in cold muddy water and then grows during the short northern summer season until mature. It is challenging growing it as the birds like eating it, and if there is an early frost there will not be enough time for ripening the seeds.
It has grown for thousands of years in the wetlands of North America. The Anishinaabeg peoples in their canoes, traditionally harvested wild rice in canoes powered with long poles. Later they used beater sticks to knock the ripe seeds into the bottom of their canoes for their harvest. This is still the way it is done in Minnesota. Uncultivated wild rice is required by law to be harvested by those who are licensed. 70% of the wild rice is grown by farmers in California, where it has been commercialized.
The Native Americans historically would dry out the green rice seeds in a pot over an open fire. Now commercial farmers treat it differently. It is left to cure and when the chlorophyll dispels, then it is dried in the hull, which is how it gets that smoky, nutty flavour.
Wild rice is mostly grown in the Great Lakes region and California, but it grows naturally in most areas of Canada and the U.S. It is even grown in Hungary now. It is a hard “grain” to produce, which is why it is so much more expensive than other grains.
- It expands to three or four times its original size when cooked.
- It is Minnesota’s official state grain.
- It can be popped like popcorn. Just heat it in a little oil and shake it until it pops.
- California produced approximately 10,200,000 pounds of finished wild rice in 2009, Canada and Minnesota combined produced 10,000,000 pounds; and Hungary produced about 720,000 pounds.
- In almost every U.S. state it grows naturally in waterways.
How to Select
It is best not to buy boxed mixes which are less fresh and the additives often have traces of gluten. Make sure it is organic. The best grow in Minnesota and Manitoba. The wild rice grown in California is mostly commercialized and processed.
How to Store
Due to the fact that it is low in fat, the uncooked rice can be kept in a dry, airtight container for years. Once it has been cooked and tightly covered it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week and the freezer for up to six months.
It makes an excellent nutritious substitute for potatoes, pasta or rice. You can eat it alone; many mix it with brown rice for a subtler taste or just because it is less expensive that way.
It can be added to salads, soups, casseroles and even desserts.
It is important to cook it well. Here is my recipe: How to Cook Wild Rice
Try these delicious Wild Rice Recipes:
Sweet Bell Peppers Stuffed with Wild Rice – This sweet bell peppers recipe with wild rice is a favourite of mine. It’s yummy, beautiful and nutritious!
Delicious Wild Rice Risotto with Corn and Mushrooms – This is a delicious wild rice risotto which is very simple to make. The addition of mushrooms and corn makes it extra yummy.
Delightfully Delicious Wild Rice Salad – This wild rice salad is delicious, nourishing and filling. It has tasty colourful vegetables in it to give the wild rice a good contrast and is a crunchy salad for lunch or dinner.
Deluxe Tasty Wild Rice Pudding – This wild rice pudding is a new favorite pudding of mine. It has a creamy consistency and it is still vegan which I like.
Learn more about some of the healthiest vegetarian foods you will always want to have in your pantry or growing on your deck.
READ: Superfoods – Over 100 of the Healthiest Foods You Should Have in Your Diet and learn more about the variety of Superfoods we think you should have in your diet.