Rice flour comes from oriental cuisine, but is now a common ingredient in many recipes. Let’s find out all its properties and how to use it.
From the grinding of the rice grains, rice flour is obtained, white, thin and with a neutral taste which makes it a versatile ingredient and is used for many recipes.
On the market it is possible to find both white rice flour and wholemeal rice flour, as well as rice semolina. All these products are characterized by the absence of gluten , not surprisingly, rice flour is one of the most used flours in cooking for celiacs.
From a nutritional point of view it is characterized by its high starch content, while compared to other flours it has a lower protein content. Among the vitamins, the good content of B vitamins stands out. In the next paragraph we take a closer look at the calories and nutritional values of this flour.
Rice flour: calories and nutritional values
Rice flour, like other flours, is an energy food and provides 363 kcal per 100 g of food. Despite this, it is distinguished by a reduced protein content, but of higher quality, in fact it has a higher content of lysine (an essential amino acid) than other cereal flours.
However, it must be taken into consideration that the refining process impoverishes the fiber rice flour, therefore it is rich in carbohydrates in the form of starches and with a high glycemic index (IG 95). It is no coincidence that the fiber content is only 0.7 g per 100 g of flour. Finally, the fat content is very low.
With regard to micronutrients, rice flour has a good supply of potassium and phosphorus, it also has a good content of B vitamins: niacin, vitamin B6, thiamin, riboflavin and folate. Below we indicate the nutritional values per 100g of rice flour.
Nutritional values per 100g of rice flour:
- Power: 363 kcal
- Proteins: 7.3 g
- Lipids: 0.5 g
- Fibers: 0.7 g
- Carbohydrates: 87.8 g
- Potassium: 104 mg
- Phosphorus: 90 mg
- Folate: 4 μg
- Niacin: 1.4 mg
- Vitamin B6: 0.44 mg
- Thiamine: 0.05 mg
- Riboflavin: 0.04 mg
Rice flour: the health benefits
The properties of rice flour are very similar to those of rice because it is precisely from the grinding of the latter that the flour is obtained. Let’s find out what are the advantages of using rice flour.
✓ High digestibility
Rice flour is more digestible than other flours because the starch structure of rice is different from that of other cereals. In fact, rice starch has small granules that are easily attacked by digestive enzymes, all of which leads to better digestibility.
✓ Reduced purine content
Hyperuricemia (an increase in plasma uric acid values) is a condition that requires a limited intake of proteins and above all the use of foods with a low content of purines. Rice flour, for its modest protein content and consequently for its reduced purine content, is a useful food in this pathology.
✓ Gluten free
Rice flour is naturally gluten-free. Compared to other flours or gluten-free preparations, this is an easily available and low-cost flour that can be used in case of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.
✓ Rich in potassium
Potassium is an important mineral as it is involved in various phenomena that help regulate pressure, moreover, rice flour is rich in potassium and low in sodium. Therefore, the consumption of foods rich in potassium, such as rice flour, can help reduce blood pressure levels.
✓ Good source of Vitamins B
Using rice flour can be a good strategy to supplement B vitamins, which are useful because they play an important role in many metabolic functions. In particular, rice flour mainly provides thiamine and riboflavin which are involved in the energy metabolism of carbohydrates and niacin, which is important for blood circulation, cellular respiration and the nervous system.
Rice flour and wheat flour: main differences
The energy intake of the two flours is almost similar: 343 kcal per 100 g of 00 flour against 363 kcal per 100 g of rice flour. Despite this there are some differences from a nutritional point of view:
- Rice flour has a higher starch content than 00 wheat flour;
- Rice flour has a lower fiber and protein content than 00 wheat flour.
|Nutritional values per 100g||Rice flour||Wheat flour 00|
|Power||363 kcal||343 kcal|
|Starch||87.8 g||76.3 g|
|Fiber||0.7 g||2.5 g|
|Proteins||7.3 g||11 g|
Another important difference concerns the presence of gluten, in fact, as we have already mentioned in the previous paragraphs, rice flour is naturally gluten-free, while 00 wheat flour is notoriously a flour that contains gluten.
The absence of gluten also determines important differences in the use of these two flours. Rice flour, unlike 00 wheat flour, can be used by celiacs. Conversely, rice flour, compared to 00 wheat flour, is not suitable for recipes that require leavening since it is the gluten that gives the elasticity necessary for the leavening of the dough. Despite this, rice flour can be used for all recipes, sweet or savory, which do not require leavening such as biscuits or shortcrust pastry.
Due to its high starch content and delicate flavor, rice flour is a better thickener than 00 wheat flour, therefore it is useful for the preparation of puddings, creams and sauces. Finally, rice flour absorbs less oil than 00 wheat flour and is more suitable for breading fried foods.
How to use rice flour: taste and use in the kitchen
Rice flour has a very soft consistency and a particularly delicate taste, tending to neutral, which makes it suitable for many uses in the kitchen. In all recipes that involve the use of wheat flour as a thickener, it is possible to use rice flour as an alternative, using the same quantities of wheat flour as indicated in the recipe. Therefore rice flour is indicated in the preparation of bechamel, puddings, custard, but also as a thickener for vegetable and / or legume soups.
Rice flour is not suitable for making leavened products, since the absence of gluten does not allow the dough to be given the right elasticity necessary for leavening. Despite this it is possible to use it mixed with other flours, for example using 3 parts of 00 wheat flour and 2 parts of rice flour for the preparation of pizza, bread or focaccia. In any case, when using rice flour in leavened products, it is advisable to add baking soda as well in order to have softer dough.
Although rice flour is not among the best flours for leavened products, this is suitable for all those recipes, sweet or savory, in which leavening is not foreseen. For this it is possible to make biscuits, shortcrust pastry, bread sticks and crackers with this flour.
It is also very suitable for frying, it can be used alone, for example by flouring fish such as shrimp, squid, anchovies, etc… or it can be used to prepare a crispy batter with sparkling water and whipped egg whites. The main feature of rice flour is that in frying it absorbs little oil compared to other flours and this allows to obtain crunchy and dry foods.
How to make rice flour at home
Making rice flour at home is very simple just put the rice grains in a food processor or in an ice crusher and operate it until it reaches the desired consistency. After having reduced the rice to a powder, it is preferable to sift it in order to eliminate any residues of grains that have not been carefully chopped. Preparing rice flour at home is advantageous because it allows you to use the type of rice you prefer, in fact it is possible to use not only polished rice but also brown rice, black rice, semi-brown rice, etc …
How to store rice flour?
Whether it is purchased or homemade rice flour, the best way to store it is to store it in an airtight glass container to prevent air and humidity from compromising its quality. Alternatively, it can be vacuum -packed using bags suitable for this type of preservation. In both cases, it is preferable to keep it away from heat sources and in a cool and dry place.
Does rice flour contain gluten?
As we have already said several times, rice flour does not contain gluten and is also the best known, cheapest and most used gluten-free flour. Therefore it can be used for the preparation of recipes and food products for celiacs. Despite this, it is always preferable to buy rice flour that has the crossed ear symbol in order to be sure that there are no traces of other cereals containing gluten.
Can anyone with diabetes use rice flour?
As mentioned in the paragraph on calories and nutritional values, this flour has a high glycemic index, therefore it is not a good choice for those with diabetes or diseases in which it is necessary to control glucose levels. However, it is possible to use it mixed with other flours, for example whole wheat flour, legume flour, etc. food, useful for controlling blood sugar.
Does rice flour contain nickel?
Like the grain of rice, the flour, as long as it is not wholemeal flour, has a medium-low content of nickel and can be used by those who have this allergy.
Nickel allergy is increasingly common and can be from contact or food. Excluding or at least limiting foods that contain nickel is useful when the allergy is triggered by what you eat and allows you to reduce the symptoms associated with ingesting this metal.
Contraindications of rice flour
There are no particular contraindications to the use of rice flour, despite this, as we said earlier, it is a flour to be limited in case of diabetes.
However, it is preferable to include rice flour in a diet that also includes the use of other types of flours in order to have an always varied diet, which brings all the macro and micro nutrients necessary to maintain a good state of health.
Does rice flour make you fat? Does your belly
Rice flour is more digestible than other flours because the starch has small granules that are easily attacked by digestive enzymes. The better digestibility not only prevents annoying swelling in the belly but also makes it useful for those who tend to suffer from these disorders.
Its better digestibility, however, also gives it a high glycemic index and this can affect body weight since foods with a high glycemic index cause a sudden increase in blood sugar and also insulin which can stimulate the sense of hunger . Despite this, we can limit this mechanism by associating other foods that are richer in fiber with rice flour, for example it is possible to mix rice flour with other flours, or use it for preparations that involve the addition of vegetables or legumes. In this way it is possible to use rice flour without gaining weight because no food makes you fat, if introduced in the diet in a healthy and balanced way.
Rice flour: prices and where to buy it
A kilo of rice flour can cost from 5 to about 10 USD per kilo, the price is determined above all by the type of rice that is used to make the flour and whether or not it comes from organic farming. It is a flour easily available in supermarkets, in the department dedicated to flours and bakery products, but it is also possible to buy it in specialized stores for celiacs, herbalists and organic shops and of course also online. It is advisable to opt for organic and, possibly, Italian products.