Rice in the Gluten-Free Diet

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Along with wheat, rice is one of the most important grains for human consumption worldwide. Because rice is gluten-free and full of vitamins and minerals, it is a great option for individuals following a gluten-free diet.

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Like other cereals, rice belongs to the sweet grass family (Poaceae). There are over 8,000 different types of rice (Oryza sativa) with different colors, shapes, and sizes. Brown rice (also known as whole grain rice or brown rice) and white rice are particularly widespread. Brown rice is not bleached or polished during processing. Due to the minimal processing of the grain, brown rice has a high nutrient and fiber content. When brown rice is processed to remove the outer seed layer, the result is white rice. 


Where is rice grown? 

Rice is one of the most widely grown grains in the world. The plant can adapt to extreme conditions. Cultivation is possible in dry and humid regions (Southeast Asia), in dry and arid regions (Egypt), in regions with a mild climate and cold winters (Northern China), but also in Nepal and Bangladesh.

According to the latest FAO data, the largest rice producers are::

  • India: 43 million hectares
  • China: 30 million hectares
  • Bangladesh & Indonesia: each have around 10-11 million hectares
  • Thailand: 9.7 million hectares

Structure of the Plant

The rice plant grows about 80-160 cm annually. Ten to fifteen overhanging panicles grow out of the slender stalks, where up to 100 single-flowered spikelets can sit. One rice plant can bear up to 3,000 fruits. The shape of the fruit varies greatly between species. As with all grains, the fruit consists of a seedling, endosperm, aleurone layer, seed coat, and pericarp. The outermost layers make up what is called the "silver skin".


Information on Sowing & Harvesting

Rice is sown on areas that are predominantly arable and rich in organic matter.

Cultivation can take place in different ways depending on the type of rice. Wet rice cultivation dates back to around 3,000 BC and was developed to prevent weeds and pests from growing. Around 80 percent of the rice harvested is grown this way. Terraced field cultivation, a special form of wet rice cultivation, is also very common. There are some varieties that have not adapted to this method, however, so dry rice cultivation is used.

The rice kernel ripens in autumn, and depending on the variety (early or late), the harvest typically takes place in September or October.


The nutritional profile of rice depends on the variety, environmental conditions, and cultivation technique. If you compare the nutritional values ​​of brown rice and white rice, you can see slight differences in the macronutrient composition, but significant differences in micronutrient composition. This is because the silver skin is still present in brown rice, which is full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.


100g of hulled brown rice contains an average of 74g of carbohydrates. The glycemic index (GI) is 50, which is significantly lower than the GI of wheat (70). The carbohydrate content of white rice is slightly higher at 78g per 100g.


The protein content of rice averages 7.2g per 100g, which is slightly lower compared to other grains. The ratio of amino acids in brown rice is balanced. One study showed that 16 amino acids were present in rice, half of which were essential amino acids.


Unsaturated fatty acids make up 75-78% of the fat content in brown rice,  most of which is linoleic acid and oleic acid. In white rice, the total fat content is significantly lower at 0.6g per 100g.

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins B1, B3, B6, and vitamin E are all present in brown rice. The B-vitamins are important to support nervous system functions. Brown rice is also a valuable source of selenium, manganese, and magnesium. These minerals play an important role in the development of some diseases (including Type II Diabetes).

Arsenic in Rice & Rice Products

There is evidence that rice contains higher levels of arsenic than other grains. It tends to be present to be in the outer layers, especially in whole grain rice. For this reason, maximum levels for inorganic arsenic in rice and rice products have been established (Verordnung (EU) 2015/1006, ABl. L 161 vom 26.6.2015, S. 14).

More information can be found here.


Nutritional Profile

rice nutrition table

Our Research & Development

Dr. Schär has been supporting supply chain research and innovation projects for for over 10 years at the Dr. Schär R&D Center in the AREA Science Park in Trieste, a cross-sectoral science and technology park. The park's development strategies focus on life sciences, materials, and information and communication technologies (ICT).

By coordinating, monitoring, and investigating the quality of agricultural products, Dr. Schär works with numerous farmers and companies involved in the processing of products to ensure the best quality and nutritional properties. Every year, Dr. Schär manages key agronomic supply chains for the Group's important raw materials, such as corn, sorghum, buckwheat, millet, oats and lentils

Read more on our website: https://www.drschaer.com/us 


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