According to the American College of Gastroenterology, around sixty million people in America suffer from acid reflux once a month, with fifteen million people in America suffering from acid reflux daily (1).
This means that over twenty percent of Americans suffer from acid reflux.
Certain foods can help with acid reflux, and certain foods can aggravate it. Is white rice good for acid reflux?
This article will discuss what acid reflux is, whether white rice is good for acid reflux, the nutritional facts about white rice, the benefits of white rice, and the risks associated with white rice.
What is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux refers to a burning sensation in the chest area. According to Mayoclinic, Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus because the sphincter muscle of the esophagus does not close properly (2).
When acid reflux becomes common or occurs more than twice a week, it is referred to as Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
The symptoms of GERD include:
- Heartburn (burning sensation in the chest)
- Difficulty swallowing
- Bad breath
White Rice Nutrition
White rice is one of the, if not the most, popular types of rice used. White rice is harvested and stripped of the bran and germ, only leaving behind the endosperm.
According to a study, this is done to improve the taste and enhance the shelf life of the rice (3).
Because it loses so much of its nutritious structure, white rice is mainly considered empty carbs. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, white rice is enriched with many nutrients in the US (and many other countries) (4).
The table below shows the nutrient value in one hundred grams of both enriched and unenriched white rice each:
|Nutrient||Unenriched White Rice||Enriched White Rice|
|Protein||2.9 grams||2.9 grams|
|Carbs||30 grams||26 grams|
|Fat||0.4 grams||0.4 grams|
|Fiber||0.9 grams||0.9 grams|
|Iron||1% of Required Daily Intake||10% of Required Daily Intake|
|Vit B6||8% of Required Daily Intake||8% of Required Daily Intake|
|Folate||1% of Required Daily Intake||20% of Required Daily Intake|
|Phosphorus||6% of Required Daily Intake||6% of Required Daily Intake|
|Copper||4% of Required Daily Intake||4% of Required Daily Intake|
|Magnesium||2% of Required Daily Intake||2% of Required Daily Intake|
|Zinc||2% of Required Daily Intake||2% of Required Daily Intake|
|Manganese||18% of Required Daily Intake||18% of Required Daily Intake|
|Thiamine||5% of Required Daily Intake||14% of Required Daily Intake|
|Selenium||13% of Required Daily Intake||13% of Required Daily Intake|
|Niacin||12% of Required Daily Intake||12% of Required Daily Intake|
pH Level of White Rice
The pH level of food indicates whether the food is acidic or alkaline. The range of acidity and alkalinity is seen on the pH scale and goes from zero to fourteen, with seven being neutral (5). As the pH value moves to the left of seven and closer to zero, acidity increases. As the pH value shifts to the right of seven and closer to fourteen, alkalinity increases.
The pH value of food affects acid reflux.
This is because a more acidic diet triggers acidic reflux. According to Robin Foroutan from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the stomach releases gastric juices which contain HCL, giving the stomach acid a pH of 1.2 to 3.0 (6). The acidity of the stomach helps in digesting proteins and protects against pathogens.
White rice has a pH level of around 6.0 to 6.7. This makes white rice slightly acidic. Since it’s so lightly acidic, it does not trigger or worsen acid reflux and GERD.
However, if fried, the pH level of the rice will decrease due to the release of acid-forming minerals.
Is White Rice Good for Acid Reflux?
As mentioned before, if not fried, white rice does not harm patients with acid reflux. So, as long you boil white rice instead of frying it, you are in no danger.
So, is white rice good for acid reflux?
The answer to that question is relative to the patient suffering from acid reflux. There are many cases where white rice can aggravate acid reflux. Similarly, there are many cases where white rice may help you with your acid reflux.
Even though white rice isn’t as acidic as other food, people suffering from extreme acid reflux should still avoid white rice, as even a tiny bit of acid can trigger a reaction.
Additionally, white rice is rich in carbohydrates.
According to nutritionist Monica Reinagel, carbs take too long to digest and sit in the gut and ferment, producing gas that bubbles up through the stomach (7).
How is White Rice Good for Acid Reflux?
As mentioned, high carbohydrate diets are bad for acid reflux patients. However, there are only certain carbohydrates that cause gas. Some carbohydrates, called complex carbohydrates, can help alleviate acid reflux (8).
Complex carbohydrates have higher fiber content and can help alleviate hunger. This helps with the overeating and displacement of stomach acid. White rice contains complex carbohydrates and can help certain patients with acid reflux.
Additionally, white rice is rich in fiber. Fiber is an excellent nutrient for those suffering from acid reflux.
According to WebMD, fiber absorbs the liquid in the digestive tract, keeping your stomach from overfilling and causing the acid to leak into the esophagus (9). Fiber also improves peristalsis, the antagonistic movement of muscles in the gut, improving digestion.
As mentioned before, fiber can reduce hunger and prevent overeating.
White rice is also rich in magnesium. One of the main reasons for acid reflux is stress which causes spasming of the esophageal sphincter muscles, allowing for the release of stomach acid into the esophagus.
According to Healthline, magnesium can reduce sphincter muscle spasms and, when combined with hydroxide ions, can neutralize stomach acid (10).
White rice is often enriched with minerals and vitamins, as mentioned before.
These vitamins improve the growth of good gut bacteria that can help with acid reflux by preventing the accumulation of gastric acid in the stomach.
Health Benefits of White Rice
White rice provides many health benefits. Some of these benefits are mentioned below:
1. Bones, Nerves, and Muscle Growth
White rice contains 2% of the required daily magnesium intake, which means it provides around eight milligrams of magnesium in a hundred grams of cherries. Magnesium is a component of the bones and a co-enzyme for many enzymatic reactions, and that involves protein synthesis, boosting muscle and neuron growth.
2. Quick Energy
White rice contains a high amount of carbohydrates, which provide quick energy. White rice contains thiamin, an essential nutrient that converts food into energy. It is especially beneficial for athletes.
3. Colon Health
White rice contains high levels of resistant starch when cooked. According to some studies, resistant starch leads to fatty acid formations (11). Fatty acids help the colon stay healthy and decrease the risk of colorectal cancer.
Risks Associated with White Rice
Although white rice is nutritious, some risks involve consuming too much white rice. Some of these risks are mentioned below.
1. Increased Blood Sugar
White rice is rich in carbohydrates, and consuming too much white rice may increase blood glucose levels and result in type 2 diabetes.
2. Increased Weight Gain
Due to the high amount of calories and carbs in white rice, consuming too much leads to increased weight gain.
White rice is rich in fiber. An excess intake of fiber can lead to bloating. This is because fiber binds to minerals in the digestive tract and prevents them from being absorbed.
4. Arsenic Poisoning
White rice is sometimes grown in soil contaminated with arsenic. The plant soaks up and stores arsenic in the rice grains. Consuming too much arsenic may lead to neuron damage, heart diseases, and an increased risk of cancer.
How to Include White Rice in Your Meals if You Suffer from Acid Reflux?
IF you want to add white rice into your meals but are worried that it may trigger your acid reflux, here are certain things you can try:
Overeating or eating large meals causes your stomach to fill up, putting pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), preventing it from closing entirely, and allowing acid to leak into the esophagus. Especially with white rice, which is more filling than most food.
To include white rice in your meals, prepare smaller portions and pair them with non-acidic foods like vegetables.
Choose the Right Type of White Rice
There are many different types of white rice, and not all types have the same pH level. Basmati and Jasmine rice have a lower amount of carbohydrates than other types of white rice (12). This prevents gas buildup and does not trigger acid reflux.
Cook it Right
Also, as mentioned before, avoid eating fried rice, as frying it will increase the acidity of the white rice, which is why you should eat boiled white rice if you suffer from acid reflux. Additionally, be sure not to overcook them, as overcooked rice can be challenging to digest.
Add Herbs and Spices to White Rice
Although people suffering from acid reflux are told to avoid spices, that does not mean they can’t use any. Some herbs can be used to flavor the white rice without increasing its acidity. Such herbs include parsley, ginger, basil, and oregano.
Is white rice good for acid reflux? As mentioned before, the answer to this question is relative. While some people experience relief from acid reflux when consuming white rice, others experience their acid reflux getting triggered instead.
If you suffer from acid reflux, you need to experiment and find food that helps with your acid reflux and is easier for you to digest. If you wish to eat white rice, be careful not to consume too much of it, as it may cause adverse effects.
Further reading: Is ketchup acidic or alkaline?
1. Does White Rice Cause Acid Reflux?
No. If eaten in moderation, white rice does not cause acid reflux.
2. Which Rice is Best for Acid Reflux?
The best rice for acid reflux is brown rice, which contains lower amounts of carbohydrates and more vitamins.
3. Is White Rice Acidic or Alkaline?
White rice is acidic.