Rice is a popular staple food all around the world, and that is for good reasons. It’s a great source of carbohydrates — providing us with all the energy we need to get by the day. Rice can also be eaten in a number of ways, for example, making fried rice.
Fried rice is one of the most popular preparations of rice in the world. It is convenient to make and is a treat to the tongue at the same time. This is what made the food so popular. But there is one question – is fried rice healthy?
So today, we will know about the health factors of fried rice and everything concerning it.
You may also like: Curried Wild Rice Salad
Is Fried Rice Healthy?
Most tasty foods come with a huge drawback: they are not very healthy. Fried rice could or could not be that — depending on the recipe that is followed while cooking and how we prepare it.
There are healthier variants of fried rice that packs essential nutrients taking full advantage of the perks of rice plus more. But on the other side of the coin, there are many traditional recipes of fried rice that contain an overwhelming amount of fats and oils, which are not known to be the healthiest recipes.
A huge determinant of how healthy or not is the method of cooking. Often the unhealthier dishes turn out to be the more toothsome. So, we have to find our own sweet spot and balance between health and flavor.
Since the health factor depends on the dishes, we can separately discuss the pros and cons of each variant.
Traditional Fried Rice
Traditional fried rice is the most popular form of the dish. And with the taste that it has, it is justified. The spices, the method of cooking, all of them sum up to be an amazing, palatable dish.
And the thing is, it is not innately unhealthy. At least not as much as the other rich foods out there, which probably don’t taste as good. But of course, it can turn unhealthy if taken on a regular basis. Because after all, it is a rich food meant to be taken occasionally.
The oil used gives the dish an irresistible flavor. But usually, a lot of oil is used in the making of fried rice. And that oil contains an excess amount of saturated fat, also known as bad fat. However, the reason behind such naming is not irrational.
Bad fat leads to an increase in the amount of Low-Density Lipoprotein in the blood. Out of the two types of cholesterols, it is the bad one. An increase in bad cholesterol can lead to the risk of stroke and heart attack.
Fried rice is also very much a calorie-dense food. That means the number of calories it packs is pretty high. So, if someone is on a diet or trying to regulate their calorie intake, this is not the food for them.
It is one of the primaries of fried rice. The originality of the dish will be lost without it. And any traditional and authentic fried rice recipe will contain a hefty amount of soy sauce — which will provide it the flavor.
But this taste-making condiment does also come with its own set of faults. For starters, soy sauce contains a copious amount of sodium. Just a tablespoon of soy sauce contains almost 920 milligrams of sodium. To put things into perspective, that is almost 40% of the daily requirement for sodium.
So, excess consumption of fried rice leading to too much soy sauce intake can be harmful. It can lead to the risk of heart attacks, brain stroke, and hypertension. Bone damage may also happen since it can cause the pulling of calcium from bones.
Additionally, people who are sensitive to amines should also be very aware since soy sauce can pack a lot of it. It has histamines which can be extremely toxic and result in headaches, rashes, stomach pain, itching, and so on. People with gluten and wheat allergies should also remain aware.
Fried rice, as the name suggests, does contain rice. And it is one of the most common main foods in the world. And that is because it fills the stomach and gives us the required amount of carbohydrates to make ends meet.
Although white rice can easily be considered healthy just for its carbs content, it is not the healthiest type of rice — because that would be red rice. White rice contains significantly lesser fibers, protein, and other nutrients. Excessive consumption may even lead to Type-2 Diabetes.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG):
Another very popular ingredient that is regularly used in fried rice is MSG or Monosodium Glutamate. Even though it is safe within limits, it is often taken beyond the limits because of its addictiveness.
Overindulgence of MSG is associated with obesity, slow metabolism, and harmful impacts on reproductive organs. It can also cause Chinese Restaurant Syndrome, which is an illness causing weakness, palpitations, and numbness.
On top of all these, if an unreasonable amount of red meat like beef or pork is used in the fried rice, it can worsen the dish. That will considerably increase the amount of grease and oil — eventually the quantity of cholesterol. These, too, can have dangerous outcomes.
But does this mean the traditional fried rice is plain bad? Definitely not. If it is consumed in moderation, it can be a tasty and risk-free meal. And for our sake, we do need some rich food here and there since healthy food can get bland easily.
But there are a lot of healthier variants of fried rice. And not all of them are bland. In fact, some might be even better than the authentic ones if cooked properly.
Healthy Fried Rice:
Fried rice can be made healthy by making some tweaks. Instead of talking about a particular recipe, we can look at some general changes that will make all the difference in the world.
The first change we can make is in the quantity of oil used. Without oil, fried rice would taste incomplete. But that does not mean that we cannot regulate the amount of it is used. And doing so can go a long way.
One way to do so is by using an air fryer instead of a traditional wok. Air fryers would require a significantly lesser amount of oil while retaining the crispiness of the fried rice.
But not everyone owns an air fryer. So, in that case, the next best option is to use cooking spray instead. However, it is recommended to not use cooking spray on a regular basis since it can lead to increased risks of lung cancer. But that is only for prolonged uses.
The next alteration one can make to the fried rice is: to use brown rice instead of white rice. Brown rice houses a lot more nutrients and antioxidants. Most importantly, it is rich in fibers which helps in controlling blood pressure.
Fried rice is not necessarily popular for its weight loss properties, but brown rice definitely can lower the number of calories. And in the long run, this can have a significant impact—if one eats fried rice on a regular basis.
You may also like: Vegan Brown Rice Pudding
Anything can be made healthy by adding vegetables—and fried rice is no exception. Vegetables and leaves like cabbages, carrots, peas, and herbs can be used in fried rice.
Not only will this make the rice healthier, but this will also add a new layer of flavors to the dish—taking it to a next level.
But while adding things to the fried rice, there is no reason to be limited to herbs and veggies only. Instead of red meat, chicken meat can be a great option. Chickens are extremely nutritious and are enriched with protein.
Egg fried rice is also a great dish — with the goodness of both rice and eggs. Being one of the most admired food items in the world, eggs are regularly added to fried rice. Besides tasting amazing, its protein content and other nutritional facts make it a great choice.
Tofu, too, can be a great replacement for meat, especially for vegans. They are a great source of protein, but they also contain micronutrients like iron and calcium. Both tofu and chicken can be great additions to the dish — enhancing both the taste and the nutritional value.
The last change that can very easily be made is getting rid of the MSG. Instead of using this, beef stocks and salt should be used in order to get a similar flavor. A lot of people might even recommend this flavor over the one of MSG.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Does frying rice make it unhealthy?
When you fry rice the traditional way with lots of oil, it is unhealthy. However, if you fry the rice with an air fryer, it can be healthy.
Is fried rice or boiled rice healthier?
The boiled rice is healthier as it has almost half the calories of fried rice.
Does fried rice make you gain weight?
Yes, it does as it’s very rich in fat and has a high calorie count.
So, is fried rice healthy? The answer is both yes and no. It is hugely dependent on how much it is taken and in what way it is prepared.
It can be a really good meal if taken occasionally — it might even be healthy up to a certain point. But just like everything, there needs to be a balance.