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Is rice healthier or potato?

Rice and potatoes are two of the most commonly consumed starchy foods worldwide. Both provide carbohydrates, some protein, vitamins and minerals. However, there are differences between rice and potatoes in terms of their nutrient compositions, health benefits, risks and overall effects on health.

Nutrient Content

Rice and potatoes have some similarities and differences in their nutrient profiles:

  • Rice is lower in calories and fat. A 100-gram serving of boiled white rice provides 130 calories and 0.3 grams of fat, while the same amount of baked potato with skin provides 93 calories and 0.1 grams of fat.
  • Potatoes contain more protein. That same serving of potato offers 2.6 grams of protein compared to 2.7 grams in rice.
  • Rice provides more iron and potassium, whereas potatoes are higher in vitamin C and vitamin B6.

Here is a comparison of the nutrient profiles of rice and potatoes per 100 grams boiled/baked serving (1):

Nutrient Rice Potato
Calories 130 93
Protein (g) 2.7 2.6
Fat (g) 0.3 0.1
Carbs (g) 28 21
Fiber (g) 0.4 2.2
Calcium (mg) 28 12
Iron (mg) 0.8 0.78
Potassium (mg) 115 421
Vitamin C (mg) 0 19.7
Vitamin B6 (mg) 0.164 0.298

As you can see, potatoes contain more vitamin C and B6. Rice is higher in iron and potassium. The fiber content is significantly higher in potatoes.

Glycemic Index

The glycemic index (GI) measures how quickly foods raise blood sugar levels. Foods with a high GI cause faster and larger spikes in blood sugar compared to low GI foods (2).

Rice has a high GI of 73, whereas potatoes are considered medium on the glycemic index at 56-111 GI, depending on type of potato (3, 4).

This suggests rice may lead to slightly faster rises and falls in blood sugar compared to potatoes.


Some research indicates potatoes may be more filling than rice and keep you feeling full for longer. One study found that boiled potatoes have a higher satiety rating than white rice and other starchy foods (5).

Another study compared the effects of eating boiled white potatoes versus white rice on appetite and satiety. Potatoes were shown to suppress hunger and decrease food intake at the next meal more than rice (6).

The higher fiber content of potatoes may contribute to their increased filling effects.


Most rice consumed is white rice, which has had its fiber-rich outer bran layer removed. The lack of fiber can make rice quicker to digest than potatoes with the skin on.

On the glycemic index, which measures how quickly foods are digested and raise blood sugar, white rice scores much higher than less processed varieties like brown rice (7).

Boiled potatoes contain resistant starch, which resists digestion and acts more like fiber. This makes them slower to digest than rice (8).

So the fibers in potatoes could support digestive health better than white rice by promoting digestion and healthy gut bacteria.

Weight Loss

Both potatoes and rice can be included in a weight loss diet. It is the overall calorie intake and expenditure that matters most for weight control.

However, potatoes may have slight benefits for weight loss compared to rice because of their higher volume, fiber content and filling effects.

A study in 1,800 people associated higher white rice intake with increased weight gain over 4 years, while replacing white rice with whole grains was linked to weight loss (9).

Risk of Diabetes

Refined grains like white rice have been associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Replacing white rice with whole grains has been shown to reduce diabetes risk (10).

The high glycemic index and lack of fiber in white rice could contribute to these effects.

Moderate potato intake as part of an overall healthy diet does not appear to increase diabetes risk. However, frequent intake of potatoes cooked in unhealthy oils and high calorie toppings could contribute to weight gain and impact diabetes risk (11).

Overall the fiber, nutrients and slower digestion of potatoes compared to white rice could benefit blood sugar control and may reduce diabetes risk.

Contains Antinutrients

All rice varieties contain varying amounts of antinutrients. These include phytates, which impair mineral absorption, and trypsin inhibitors, which interfere with digestion (12).

Most antinutrients arereduced by soaking, sprouting and proper cooking methods. This is why well-cooked rice is better digested than raw.

Potatoes also contain the toxic antinutrient solanine. Solanine is found in all green parts of the potato and can cause symptoms like headaches, diarrhea and cramps when consumed in excessive amounts.

Properly storing potatoes in a cool, dark place and avoiding green potatoes can help reduce solanine content.

Arsenic in Rice

Rice can accumulate arsenic from the soil and water it is grown in. Long-term consumption of rice contaminated with arsenic has been associated with concerns like cancer and heart disease (13).

Rinsing rice thoroughly before cooking and using plentiful water can help reduce arsenic levels (14).

Potatoes are not associated with high levels of arsenic and do not appear to accumulate toxins to the same degree as rice.


Both white rice and potatoes are high in carbs. They can be included as part of a healthy diet that balances carbohydrate intake with protein and healthy fats.

Potatoes contain more fiber, vitamins and minerals. Rice is low in fiber and the white variety has a very high glycemic index. Potatoes have been associated with greater feelings of fullness and may be more effective for weight management.

While both foods have risks when consumed in excess, potatoes do not harbor the same concerns over arsenic exposure as rice.

For most people, potatoes can be the healthier choice over white rice due to their higher nutrient content, slower digestion and lower glycemic index.

However, all rice varieties have their place in a healthy diet and brown or wild rice provide more fiber, antioxidants and nutrients than white rice.

For the best health benefits, eat a balanced diet containing a variety of healthy whole foods. Limit intake of processed varieties like white rice and fried potatoes to occasional portions.

Focusing on fiber-rich whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, oats and millet can provide steady energy while supporting digestive and heart health.

Pairing rice or potato side dishes with lean proteins and plants ensures a balanced meal that provides a synergistic package of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to optimize health.