Rice or Noodles: which is healthier? Carbs, calories & more

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  August 23, 2020

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.

Rice or noodles which is healthier

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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

For a serving size of 1 cup (164 g):

Contents Per serving % Daily value
Calories 166g 8%
   Calories from fat 5g
Total fat 1g 1%
   Saturated fat 0g
   Trans fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 5mg 0%
Total carbohydrate 35g 12%
   Dietary fiber 3g 12%
   Sugars 1g
Protein 7g
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 0%
Iron 5%

The percentage of daily value is based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Noodles Nutritional Facts

For a serving size of 1 cup (140 g):

Contents Per serving % Daily value
Calories 220g 11%
   Calories from fat 11g
Total fat 1g 2%
   Saturated fat 0g 1%
   Trans fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 183mg 8%
Total carbohydrate 43g 14%
   Dietary fiber 3g 10%
   Sugars 1g
Protein 8g
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 1%
Iron 10%

The percentage of daily value is based on a 2000 calorie diet.

How do rice and noodles compare?

Let’s look at that same table for 100g’s for both rice and noodles:

Contents Rice Noodles
Calories 101g 157g
   Calories from fat 3g 8g
Total fat 0.6g 0.7g
   Saturated fat 0g 0g
   Trans fat 0g 0g
Cholesterol 0mg 0mg
Sodium 3mg 130mg
Total carbohydrate 21g 31g
   Dietary fiber 1.8g 2g
   Sugars 0.6g 0.7g
Protein 4.3g 5.7g
Vitamin A 0% 0%
Vitamin C 0% 0%
Calcium 0% 0.7%
Iron 3% 7%

Calories

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.

Vitamins

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

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.

Carbohydrates

Noodles have a higher carbohydrate percentage than rice. It comes in at 14% in comparison with rice’s 12%.

Fiber

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

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

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?

What type of rice or 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:

Healthiest Types of Rice

When it comes to healthy rice, here are some types that are recommended:

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:

Conclusion

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!

 

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.