When choosing rice, many health-conscious consumers want to select varieties that are lower in sodium. For people watching their salt intake, especially those with conditions like hypertension that require limiting sodium, identifying rice options that are relatively low in sodium is important.
Sodium Content in Different Rice Types
Sodium content can vary significantly between different types and brands of rice. Here is an overview of the sodium levels typically found in some common rice varieties:
White rice is the most commonly consumed type of rice. White rice starts out as brown rice, but has the outer bran layer removed during processing. This also removes much of the nutrients, including sodium.
- Long grain white rice has 2-4 mg sodium per 1/2 cup cooked
- Medium grain white rice has 1-10 mg sodium per 1/2 cup cooked
- Short grain white rice has 1-5 mg sodium per 1/2 cup cooked
Brown rice has the bran layer intact, so it retains more nutrients compared to white rice. It does tend to be a bit higher in sodium than white rice.
- Long grain brown rice has 10-15 mg sodium per 1/2 cup cooked
- Medium grain brown rice has 10-25 mg sodium per 1/2 cup cooked
- Short grain brown rice has 15-35 mg sodium per 1/2 cup cooked
Wild rice is not actually rice, but the seed of an aquatic grass. However, it is often consumed in a similar way to rice. Wild rice tends to be moderately low in sodium.
- Wild rice has 5-10 mg sodium per 1/2 cup cooked
Black rice is a gluten-free variety that gets its dark purple hue from anthocyanins. Its sodium content is comparable to brown rice.
- Black rice has 15-25 mg sodium per 1/2 cup cooked
Red rice also contains anthocyanins, giving its reddish color. It typically contains a bit more sodium than regular brown or white rice.
- Red rice has 35-45 mg sodium per 1/2 cup cooked
Lowest Sodium Rice Varieties
Based on the sodium content ranges listed above, the rice varieties with the lowest amounts of sodium per half-cup cooked portion include:
|Rice Type||Sodium (mg)|
|White rice (long grain)||2-4|
|White rice (medium or short grain)||1-10|
Of the commonly consumed rice types, long grain white rice tends to be consistently lowest in sodium content. For people following low-sodium diets, it can be a good staple grain option. Medium and short grain white rice varieties are also typically very low in sodium.
Wild rice is another excellent choice for a low-sodium rice alternative. With only 5-10 mg sodium per serving, it is lower in sodium than even white rice.
Brown Rice and Sodium Content
While brown rice is often touted as being nutritionally superior to white rice, its sodium content is actually slightly higher. This is because the bran contains some of the minerals that make up sodium.
The sodium content of brown rice ranges from 10-35 mg per half cup, depending on the variety. This is still relatively low in the context of the average American diet, but not as low as white rice.
Other Tips for Reducing Sodium in Rice
In addition to choosing varieties that are naturally lowest in sodium, there are other ways to reduce sodium when preparing and serving rice:
- Skip adding salt to the cooking water
- Rinse rice before cooking to remove some surface starch and sodium
- Limit high-sodium seasonings and sauce/toppings
- Flavor rice with herbs, spices, citrus, etc. instead of salt
- Enjoy plain rice or use low-sodium sides like steamed vegetables
For people looking to reduce their sodium intake, white rice and wild rice are good low-sodium options. Long grain white rice is perhaps the lowest sodium rice variety. But even higher sodium rices like brown and red rice can be part of a low-sodium diet when paired with other low-sodium foods and seasoned properly. Monitoring overall sodium intake, drinking plenty of water, and exercising can also help keep sodium levels in check.