Rice noodles are made using rice flour and are a common replacement for regular pasta made from wheat flour. Wheat contains a protein called gluten that is also present in barley, triticale, rye, spelt, and oats.
Rice noodles are much more delicate in texture and flavor. They can be used for soups, stir-fried, or deep-fried to puff up and become crispy.
This is one food that is guaranteed to make you feel a lot warmer and fuzzier. This means that this comfort dish is not only great for our health but it’s also beneficial from a nutritional perspective.
Health benefits of rice noodles
Rice noodles offer lots of nutritional value. Let’s have a look at some of these benefits:
A cup serving of cooked rice noodles has about 192 calories. If you are on a 2000 calorie daily diet, this means that the noodles account for 9.6% of the total caloric intake.
Usually, rice noodles are served with other ingredients. These ingredients alongside the method used to cook the noodles affect the total calorie of the final dish.
Generally speaking, rice noodles have slightly fewer calories than egg noodles which have about 200 calories per cup serving. The difference is 8 which is not that much but it means the world if you’re on a doctor-supervised low-calorie diet.
Carbohydrates are very important in our bodies as they serve as the primary source of fuel. Rice noodles provide us with a considerable amount of carbohydrates and they have a slight advantage over egg noodles and other types of wheat pasta in terms of the carbohydrate content although the difference is rather small.
While a cup serving of cooked rice noodles has 44g of carbohydrates, egg noodles have 60g per cup. The percentage for rice noodles equals 33.8% of the total daily recommended carbohydrate intake which is 130g. if you’re on a diet that includes small amounts of carbohydrates, rice noodles will give you the much-needed change of pace and slightly fewer carbohydrates.
It’s very important to note that rice noodles have a higher glycemic index meaning that our bodies break down rice noodles into sugar faster as opposed to egg noodles. This piece of information is very important for people who have diabetes.
Apart from their significant role in providing us with energy, carbohydrates also play a very important role in waste elimination and the health of your digestive system.
- Fats and sugars
Rice noodles have a negligible level of fat content. A 2-ounce serving only has 0.3g of fat. As a naturally low-fat food, rice noodles can provide a filling base for a meal without having to worry about taking in lots of fat.
Also, since you don’t eat the noodles all by themselves, you have to put into consideration the fat content in the sauces, vegetables, meats, and any other accompaniment consumed with the rice noodles. The method used to cook the noodles also affects the fat content. For example, is you use the rice noodles in a stir fry dish like Pad Thai, this can significantly raise the fat content. To keep the fat content at a minimum, use the rice noodles in soups or steam the noodles with fresh vegetables. This goes a long way in keeping the amount of fat low.
A cup serving of rice noodles has negligible amounts of sugar.
- Proteins and dietary fiber
Rice noodles do not contain significant levels of proteins – for every cup serving of rice noodles, there are only 2g of proteins. The daily recommended protein intake is between 46 to 56 grams.
The proteins are important in manufacturing hormones and enzymes, boosting and maintaining your immune system, and repairing damaged tissues.
Proteins also serve as an energy source for our bodies. To boost your daily protein intake, add foods such a beef, beans, and fish to your rice noodles
The same serving of rice noodles contains less than 1g of dietary fiber.
- Essential and trace minerals
Rice noodles are not very nutrient-rich in terms of mineral content. A cup serving contains 1% of the daily recommended intake of calcium and iron which are some of the most important minerals in rice noodles. Our bodies need about 1000-3000 mg of calcium daily for strong bones and healthy teeth. The calcium also helps to prevent osteoporosis which is a condition caused by its deficiency whereby the bones are very weak and break easily.
Iron is important in helping blood cells in delivering oxygen throughout the body.
Another important mineral found in rice noodles is manganese. It’s helpful in boosting our metabolism, regulates blood sugar levels, and minimized inflammation in our bodies. Rice noodles give us 14% of the recommended daily manganese intake.
An important trace mineral that’s found in rice noodles is selenium. The noodles give us 12% of the daily recommended selenium intake. Selenium plays a very significant role in our bodies by acting as an antioxidant thus helping to minimize the risk of diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
- Phosphorous and sodium
After calcium, phosphorous is the second most abundant mineral in our bodies. Just like calcium, phosphorous is also very helpful in keeping the teeth and bones strong.
This mineral is also helpful in the waste elimination process that happens during filtration in the kidneys. Phosphorous also helps the body in storing, processing, and using energy.
The daily recommended intake for phosphorous is 700 mg for grown-ups, including pregnant and breastfeeding moms. A cup serving of rice noodles contains about 97 mg of phosphorous. This gives about 9% of the total recommended daily intake.
The same cup serving of rice noodles has more than 100 mg of sodium.
What Are Other Health Benefits of Rice Noodles?
- Rice noodles are gluten-free
Rice noodles made from white flour rice rather than wheat flour. This means that they are naturally gluten-free making them an excellent choice for your diet if you’re sensitive or allergic to gluten and people suffering from celiac disease.
Celiac disease is an auto-immune condition where the patient’s body attacks the gluten since the gluten is recognized as foreign material. The repeat attacks cause damage to the lining of the stomach and inner lining of the intestines.
Some of the symptoms include bloating, diarrhea, gas, constipation, headache, tiredness, and problems concentrating after gluten consumption. In some serious scenarios, it may lead to poor nutrition and ultimately loss of weight.
- Rice noodles do not contain any eggs
Unlike other types of noodles, rice noodles do not contain any eggs. They have a delicate texture and mild flavor because they’re only made from rice flour mixed with water. Sometimes the water isn’t even used. The rice is finely ground and then it’s formed into noodle shapes.
However, not all “Asian noodles” are egg-free. Check the ingredients listed on the label carefully especially if you have an egg allergy. Vegetarians and vegan also like to substitute wheat noodles that have eggs with rice noodles in most of their recipes.
- Rice noodles are easy to cook
If you are not sure about how to prepare rice noodles, check the packaging for preparation instructions. One thing you need to be very careful about is the cook-time so that the rice noodles don’t get overcooked into a mushy mess. After boiling the noodles, drain the water and add a little oil or a sauce of your choice. If you enjoy your noodles stir-fried, you should boil them first then put them into the frying pan.
On the other hand, if you wish to eat the noodles later on, just boil them and drain out the hot water then rinse the noodles in cold running water immediately. This will prevent them from clumping together as they cool. Don’t forget to toss the noodles in a little oil.
How do I make my bowl of rice noodles a little bit healthier?
Rice noodles are very convenient as they can be prepared in an instant. As you save time, you should also make sure that you eat nutritious food and don’t compromise your well-being. Here are some tips on how you can make your bowl of rice noodles healthier:
- The first thing you should do is double-check the ingredients. The nutrition differs depending on ingredients in the brand you buy
- Try not to go too crazy with the serving size. The ideal portion size should be as large as your fist. Take everything in moderation.
- Serve the noodles with veggies or proteins.
- You should also consider what in your noodles. This is just as important as what is on them (what you eat them with). Use healthy broths when making the soups and healthy cooking oils too.
- Lastly, you need to make sure that the noodles are well cooked.
Rice noodles come in many different forms ranging from skinny, crunchy, to silky ribbons. They also come pre-packaged into very convenient forms that may or may not include seasonings. These thin whitish noodles are easily available in supermarkets as dried products although if you’re lucky enough to live near a specialty Asian market or grocery store you can get them freshly done. They also come in different types of packaging
Rice noodles are believed to be healthier than other types of noodles although the nutritional differences are slight.
Anyone interested in a steamy bowl of this nutrient-dense dish?