5th Grade - Health

LESSON PROBLEM: Nutrition: How is rice a source of energy?


Activity Requires Energy
Imagine playing soccer for fifteen minutes, or imagine dancing with your friends for 20 minutes, and if you are not in a mood to do this, how about going for a 45 minute walk. All these physical activities require energy that can be gotten by eating an average serving of 175 g (6 oz.) of cooked rice.

Rice – the Energy Provider
We need energy; the food we eat provides us this energy. After we consume food, enzymes in our digestive system break down food and release its energy. The oxygen we breathe also breaks down food in a process called oxidation. Rice is a main source of complex carbohydrates, which are essential providers of energy. Simple carbohydrates such as those found in fruit juices are also energy providers, but complex carbohydrates like rice, give us fiber and more vitamins and minerals. More than half the world’s population depends on one source of energy in their diet, and that's rice! You can see how important rice and other grains are in maintaining our health in the food guide pyramid.

Nutritional Rice
Rice in its unmilled form is called brown rice. Rice is a white grain covered with an outer layer of bran. Bran is equally useful and should be an important part of our diet. It provides much needed roughage and fiber to the diet. Bran also is very rich in amounts of B vitamins, minerals, and some proteins. Brown rice is a little bit more nutritious than white rice because it has a little more fiber and some vitamin E, but when white rice is enriched with iron, niacin, thiamin and folic acid, it is just as nutritious as brown rice. Many rice eaters prefer white rice because it takes less time to cook and it is easier to store. Some people prefer brown rice because it has a nutty flavor and a chewy texture.

It is important to follow proper cooking methods. Valuable nutrients can be lost if more more liquid is used than the rice can absorb. Rice that is rinsed before cooking can cause a loss of not only the starch but it also rinses away some of the enriched coating that is added to milled rice.

Supplementing and Enriching White Rice
Bran, the brown skin of rice contains very valuable nutrients required by our body. When rice is polished and the bran is removed, these nutrients must replaced by enriching the rice kernel. In some countries where enriched rice is not available, many people may eat only white rice. They may not have access to other nutritious foods like fish, eggs, milk, or cheese that are important to a balanced diet. Without these important foods, one can suffer from a disease called beriberi and from other forms of malnutrition.

Supplementing a diet centered around white rice with fish, eggs, meat, milk products, fresh fruits and vegetables aids nutrition. Moreover, valuable nutrients can be restored to white rice via a very simple process. White rice is usually enriched after milling with a mixture of thiamin, niacin, iron. Folic acid, another important nutrient, is added to white and brown rice in the United States. This enriched rice has helped to counter the problem of malnutrition in many rice-eating countries. Still, most of the countries that need the enriched rice most, don't have it. Most rice is grown and consumed on or near where it is grown and it never gets enriched.

Next time you eat a plate of rice, think about the kind of rice you are eating. Is it white rice or brown? Is it parboiled? Enriched? How was it prepared? You can now start making decisions about what kind of rice you prefer and how to get the most out of this wonderful grain that tastes good and is great for your body!


Compare the food value (calories) per gram of rice to the calories per gram of meat, lentils, chicken, mutton, spinach, mango, orange.


Learn about other foods which are a rich source of carbohydrates in our diet. Make a list and separate them into simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. What is the difference between these two groups?


Rice for Life by Asia Rice

Nutrition and the Food Guide Pyramid


  • compensate
  • carbohydrates
  • bran
  • proteins
  • nutrients
  • beriberi
  • malnutrition
  • supplement
  • roughage
  • oxidation
  • paddy

Click here to play Rice Rampage!
The Milling Process for Rice:
Getting rice from the field to you takes
a few more steps. Click here to see a video & learn more about the rice milling process.
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