Tested and proven: This is the healthiest way to make rice

Should you rinse rice before cooking? We tested the healthiest method for cooking rice.

 White rice (Illustrative) (photo credit: PIXABAY)
White rice (Illustrative)
(photo credit: PIXABAY)

On the one hand, rinsing rice grains before cooking may cause loss of nutrients, but on the other hand it also reduces the risk of poisoning, so what is right? Here is the answer, the proof and also a recipe.

Making rice is one of the simplest steps to do in the kitchen, and perhaps this is exactly what makes so many people believe theirs is the winning technique for making the perfect rice. Some people believe that the magic secret lies in a particularly thorough rinsing of the rice in water before cooking. When you look at whether they're right, you see that the explanation isn’t that simple.

First of all, for those who don’t know the method, some people choose to put rice in a bowl, fill it with water and pour again and again until the water comes out clean and clear. The method became famous thanks in part to the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi about Jiro Ono, the owner of the only sushi restaurant in the world to win three Michelin stars. The film shows how he invests an hour in the preparation of the rice, which for ordinary people like us will take half an hour at most.

While many believe that such invested rinsing greatly affects the taste of the rice (and three Michelin stars helps support this claim), the question arises as to whether it also affects health. Well, we have good and bad news for washing enthusiasts.

The bad news is that according to a document published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, thorough rinsing of rice before cooking can cause loss of proteins as well as other water-soluble substances such as Vitamin B. On the other hand, these ingredients are found in rice at relatively low rates relative to other healthy foods.,The good news is that studies show that washing the rice, unsurprisingly, also cleans it more thoroughly and reduces the risk that it will contain residues of dirt, insects or toxins like arsenic. Arsenic can make its way into our rice and at high rates it can be harmful to the lungs.

You can get the best of both worlds

When considering the pros and cons of washing rice, experts no doubt recommend spending a few more minutes to wash it, although as mentioned it will cause the loss of a small portion of nutrients. If you want a technique that will both remove harmful toxins and help preserve most nutrients, continue reading.

In a study published in 2021, scientists presented the method that they believe is the healthiest for making rice. It requires you to use more water and spend more time but it’s worth it. 

  1. Boil four cups of water in a large pot.
  2. After the water boils, add one cup of rice to the pot.
  3. After five minutes, strain the water from the rice with a colander.
  4. Add two cups of water to the rice cooker and cook with a lid on low or medium heat, until all the water is absorbed.

This method is supposed to help the rice retain most of the vitamins and minerals it naturally has, but researchers stress that if the rice is enriched with additional nutrients, they won’t stay in the preparation process.

And how does it taste?

As mentioned, some people swear that washing the rice improves the taste, or at least makes its texture more sticky. So we apologize for ruining the atmosphere but the rice washing is probably not the reason Jiro won three Michelin stars, at least according to experts in the field. In 2018, a study was published that examined whether rinsing rice affects its texture. In the study, the researchers cooked three popular types of rice using several known methods. They summed up the dramatic findings as follows: "Rinsing the rice has no significant effect on its hardness or stickiness.”

While the statement disappoints those who believe it improves the taste of rice, it also reassures those who believe (and there are those) that rinsing actually damages the texture. These findings also negate the suggestion of other researchers that the rinsing procedure may remove starches from the rice and thus damage its sticky texture. In other words, if the rice doesn’t come out in the texture you aimed for, you have no one to blame but yourself and your cooking abilities.