If you are looking for a starchy side for your meals, both rice and noodles make for tasty options.
But if you are trying to pick one based on health, things can get a bit confusing. After all, they are both carbohydrates and they both have a similar consistency.
However, there are some differences that may make one the winner.
Although it is hard to pick a clear winner, this post will guide you through your options and what to look out for in health benefits.
Let’s take a closer look at both of these types of carbs to figure out which one is best.
What is a Carbohydrate?
Before we get into which starch is best for you, let’s take a look at what carbohydrates are and how they work in our bodies.
Carbs have gotten a bad rap over the years. However, they are nutrients that are necessary for our bodies.
When carbohydrates enter our bodies, they are converted to glucose. Glucose serves as fuel for our cells and therefore provides our body with energy.
However, not all carbs are created equal.
There are two types of carbohydrates.
- One is a simple carbohydrate: Simple carbohydrates are also known as refined or processed grains. The grains are processed to increase shelf life but during the process, the grain loses some of its nutrients. Foods that are simple carbohydrates include bread, pastries, cakes, and most regular rice and pasta products.
- The other type of carbohydrate is the complex carbohydrate: This type of carbohydrate does not go through processing and therefore, has a richer vitamin and mineral content. Common types of complex carbohydrates include bread, quinoa, black rice, brown rice, fruits, and vegetables.
Now let’s take a look at a closer look at which is healthier:
Rice Nutritional Facts
Noodles Nutritional Facts
How to rice and noodles compare?
Looking at these two nutritional panels, it’s clear that if you are making a judgment of which food is healthier based on calorie count, rice will come out ahead.
The same number of calories can be found in 100 grams of rice as can be found in 50 grams of noodles. The calorie count here for this amount of food is around 175.
The percentage of fat is also higher in noodles with rice having 1% fat as compared to noodles’ 2%.
However, it should be noted that certain types of rice, like fried rice, can be higher in fat and calories.
Neither noodles nor rice is exceptionally rich in vitamins and minerals. However, both do contain iron which is a necessary nutrient for the body.
Noodles contain 10% iron in comparison to rice’s 5%.
Noodles also contain 1% calcium which is beneficial to bones. Rice does not have any.
Sodium is a mineral that helps control your body’s fluid levels. It also aids in the sending of nerve impulses and muscle control.
However, excessive sodium intake can cause high blood pressure.
Sodium levels are considerably higher in noodles. The carb contains 8% sodium while rice doesn’t have any.
Noodles have a higher carbohydrate percentage than rice. It comes in at 14% in comparison with rice’s 12%.
Fiber is beneficial to gut health. It can reduce blood sugar, lower cholesterol levels and decrease appetite. Rice has a fiber level of 12% beating noodles by 2%.
Protein is a component that plays a role in every cell of your body.
It aids in the building and repairing of tissue and is also used to make enzymes, hormones and other body chemicals.
It is a building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.
Both noodles and rice have similar amounts of protein with noodles having 8g as compared with rice’s 7g.
Simple or Complex Carbs
Most types of noodles and rice are made from refined grains.
Consuming an excessive amount of refined grains can lead to metabolic syndrome which is characterized by symptoms like high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and excess abdominal fat.
They can also trigger inflammation in the body to increase the risk of disease.
Glycemic index measures how food impacts blood sugar. High glycemic levels will cause blood sugar to rise.
If food has a glycemic level above 70, it’s considered high. Levels of 56-69 are considered moderate while levels below 55 are low.
Rice has a glycemic level of around 73 while the glycemic level of noodles is moderate.
What Type of Rice/Noodles are You Eating?
So it seems as if both rice and noodles have their share of pros and cons and you may choose one over the other based on your health needs.
But not so fast….
Before making a decision, you should consider that there are many different types of noodles and rice available and some are healthier than others.
If you are looking for the healthiest carbohydrates, here are some that are recommended.
Healthiest Types of Noodles
If you are looking for healthy noodles, here are some you will want to check out:
- Kelp Noodles: These are made of seaweed mixed with water and salt. They contain only 20 calories a gram and they are a great source of iodine, vitamin K, B vitamins, zinc, iron, and antioxidants and we’ve written a complete guide on kelp noodles here, with a delicious recipe to try.
- Soba Noodles: Soba noodles are made from buckwheat which provides a variety of health benefits. They are rich in antioxidants, fiber, and magnesium which improves blood flow. They are also gluten-free, and you can read about these soba noodles in my Yakisoba post.
- Quinoa Noodles: These noodles contain all nine essential amino acids. They are gluten-free and they are rich in vitamins and minerals like vitamin E, B vitamins and iron.
- Rice Noodles: Rice noodles can be used in most Asian dishes making them a great alternative to other noodle varieties that aren’t as healthy. They are gluten-free and contain only 100 calories per serving.
Healthiest Types of Rice
When it comes to healthy rice, here are some types that are recommended:
- Brown Rice: Unlike white rice, brown rice has a bran layer and germ which contain a significant amount of nutrients. It also contains flavonoid antioxidants that protect the body from disease and it is high in protein and fiber.
- Black Rice: Black rice is also called forbidden rice because it is said to have once been reserved for Chinese royalty only. It has the highest antioxidant activity of any type of rice and it also has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Red Rice: Red rice is rich in nutrients and beneficial plant compounds. It is high in protein, fiber, and antioxidants. It has also been shown to decrease inflammation.
- Wild Rice: Wild rice is recognized as whole grain and contains more protein and fiber than white rice. It has also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. It is rich in antioxidants and vitamins and minerals like B vitamins, magnesium and manganese.
Types of Noodles to Avoid
If there is one noodle that has gotten a bad rap, it’s the Ramen noodles. Ramen noodles are low in calories but they lack key nutrients.
Ramen noodles are made with wheat flour that has been fortified with synthetic forms of nutrients to make them more nutritious but they are lacking in other vitamins and minerals like protein, fiber, vitamins A, C and B12, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
They are also low in antioxidants and phytochemicals.
Types of Rice to Avoid
Here are some types of rice you will want to steer clear of:
- White Rice: The husk, germ and bran layer of white rice is removed which robs it of key nutrients yet it is still rich in carbohydrates. Because it lacks nutrients, the body processes it into sugar leaving you hungry after eating it. It also has a high glycemic level that can cause blood sugar to spike.
- Sticky Rice: Sticky rice does not contain many nutrients and it is not a good source of fiber, vitamins or minerals. It contains a high fructose corn syrup that contributes to the calorie content and raises blood sugar.
- Fried Rice: Fried rice is high in fat and calories and it is not the best choice if you are looking for a heart-healthy meal option.
So, it seems there is no clear answer to which is healthier, noodles or rice.
Both have advantages and disadvantages and one may be better for your health needs than the other.
The kind of noodles and rice you are eating will also be a deciding factor.
The best thing to do is to make healthy choices at each meal based on your tastes and what you think is right for you.
Here’s making your meals delicious and nutritious every time!