Rice is a staple that is consumed in most cultures around the world, and provides the world with over one fifth of the caloric needs of humans. Although many people in North America choose white rice as their most used kind, there are many other varieties, each with their own nutritional content and special uses. What are the different types of rice, and what can a person use them for?

Grain Types

Rice can be classified into three types, which are long-grain, medium-grain, and short-grain. Long-grain usually retains its shape, as opposed to short-grain which tends to be sticky and is often used for sweet dishes. There are different varieties for each length, and there are different colors of rice as an end product including white, brown and various types of specialty rice.

1. Long-grain

Long-grain rice can be purchased white or in its natural color of brown. Basmati rice is another type of long-grain that is used often in Indian and Pakistani cooking. Jasmine rice is from Thailand and has a soft texture.

2. Medium-grain

There are a few choices of medium-grain rice. Japanese-style rice is often eaten as a side dish, and is used in the preparation of sushi. Bomba rice is used in Spanish cooking, especially paella; it absorbs a lot of water but stays intact and maintains its form rather than becoming sticky.

3. Short-grain

Short-grain brown rice is chewy and slightly sticky. The most common type of short-grain white rice is Arborio rice. This has a unique creamy and sticky texture, which is why it is used for risotto. Short-grain rice is often used in rice pudding, due to its stickiness and special feel.

Specialty Rice

Many people stick to white or brown rice for everyday use. There is, however, a multitude of unique types of rice that will add color and variety to your dinner table. Chinese black rice is known as forbidden rice and appears as a rich purple when cooked. Instant rice, known as minute rice, is a type that has been previously cooked and dehydrated in order for it to cook more quickly later on. Converted rice is rice that has been soaked, steamed, pressure-cooked and then dried.

Nutritional Content

Rice contains far more protein than an equal amount of potatoes, and less sugar. Brown rice generally has more nutrients than white rice. Brown rice is left with the bran and germ layers intact, unlike its white counterpart. Because brown rice is consumed in its unrefined, whole state, it has more fiber and less total carbohydrates for the same amount. Brown rice is rich in selenium and manganese, and contains natural oils that cause cholesterol levels to become normal. It is also rich in antioxidants, as are other types of brightly colored speciality rice.

Rice is a good choice for a side dish. Rice has been used since about 1400 BC and is a staple among many people groups. When eaten with beans or corn, it makes up a complete protein. There are so many ways you can use it. Why not give it a try today?