Rice Cakes: Good for You?
By Sara Butler
Rice cakes reached their height of popularity in the fat-obsessed 1980s. Of course, you can still easily find them in the grocery store -- which may lead you to wonder whether you should bother with them or not. Here's what you need to know about rice cakes and whether or not they belong on your healthy eating list.
What are They?
Rice cakes are made from puffed rice that's pressed into disc form. They're marketed as a low-calorie option to crackers and bread. Plain rice cakes contain rice and salt, but you can find flavored varieties with other ingredients. Most people opt for flavoring because plain rice cakes can feel as if you're eating a slab of Styrofoam with about the same taste.
Rice cakes aren't exactly known for their robust nutritional profile since they're essential air and rice. Plain rice cakes made from brown rice have about 35 calories per cake, with less than one gram of fiber and traces of Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, iron, selenium, riboflavin, potassium, copper, and zinc. If they're salted, they also contain sodium -- check the nutritional information to find out. Flavored varieties can also have added sugars and other ingredients you'll want to know about!
The Good and the Bad
There are some positives and negatives when it comes to your health and the consumption of rice cakes. On the good side, some rice cakes do actually contain whole grains. If you look for varieties that are made with whole-grain brown rice, then it can add to your whole grain daily total. A diet full of whole grains lowers your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
Most rice cakes are also gluten-free, which is a boon if you suffer from gluten intolerance due to celiac disease. Just make sure to look at the packaging to ensure they don't contain gluten-containing grains that can cause problems.
When it comes to the negative health effects of rice cakes, there are a few. They can spike your blood sugar since they're mostly made of carbohydrates and have very little fiber or protein to slow down the rise of blood sugar once you eat them. That's why it's a good idea to pair rice cakes with some sort of protein such as cheese, hummus, meat, or peanut butter.
You don't need to avoid rice cakes, but they may not be the nutritional miracle you have been led to believe they are!
To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Marietta, Ga.