Rice milk is an alternative to cow’s milk suitable for those who are lactose intolerant or for those who want to reduce the intake of cholesterol in the diet, as well as those who have chosen a vegan lifestyle.
The rice drink , more commonly called rice milk, is a drink obtained from rice (cooked or simply left to soak) and which is a popular alternative to cow’s milk. It is presented as a white drink with a slightly sweet flavor, which can be used for breakfast and for the preparation of sweet or savory recipes.
The reason for its fame is probably linked to the fact that it is a lactose -free and gluten-free drink, which is lighter and less caloric than whole cow’s milk, but which at the same time has a similar consistency and, therefore, can replace well in the classic Italian breakfast or in multiple preparations.
It is, therefore, a drink that can be consumed by those intolerant to lactose or milk proteins, and which turns out to be cholesterol-free, as we will see together in the next paragraph. Finally, it is a drink that can also be consumed if you follow a vegan nutritional regimen. We must underline, however, that rice milk is not suitable for frothing: lovers of homemade cappuccino will therefore have to replace it with soy milk or coconut milk!
Rice milk: calories and nutritional properties
As we have anticipated, rice milk is a low-calorie drink, free of lactose, gluten and cholesterol and therefore suitable for those who, for health reasons, must reduce its intake with the diet.
However, we must underline that in industrial preparations it is easy to find in the list of ingredients also various food additives that have stabilizing and preservative functions. Furthermore, even in the most natural products on the market, we will always find in addition vegetable oil and sea salt.
In general, the main component of this drink is water: for this reason the calories in rice milk are reduced. On average, in fact, 100 ml of rice milk contain 40-50 kcal, depending on the chosen product.
The second most abundant ingredient in this drink is rice, which gives the final product a share of carbohydrates, albeit quite small. 100ml of rice milk contains about 10 grams of total carbohydrates, some of which are sugars. However, there are more caloric products on the market because they are generally added with simple sugars, to increase and improve the palatability of the product.
Our advice in this regard is to carefully read the list of ingredients and avoid the consumption of sugary products: if you don’t like the taste of the drink you can always try other brands because the taste is not always the same!
Like most vegetable drinks made from cereals, rice milk is also low in protein. It is emphasized that this is information to know and keep in mind because there have been reports of protein malnutrition due to a diet based on the consumption of rice.
What vitamins does rice milk contain
From the point of view of minerals and vitamins, the rice-based drink is quite scarce.
With regard to minerals, it naturally contains a share of calcium, potassium, phosphorus and sodium. On the market, however, the products are often fortified with minerals, in particular with calcium, to make it well available also in the rice drink. In particular, the table below shows a value of 118 mg per 100 ml of rice milk, a value that most likely refers to a fortified product and very similar to cow’s milk. In this case, therefore, 1 cup of 200 ml of rice milk contains about 20% of the calcium we need daily.
In addition to calcium, the drink is often added with vitamin D and vitamin B12. However, it is reported in the literature that the bioavailability of the added vitamins is not known. In this regard, in a study carried out on children between 1 and 6 years to verify the level of vitamin D it was found that this level was lower in children who took rice milk instead of cow’s milk.
We therefore advise you to keep all these data in mind: it is always possible to replace cow’s milk if, for any reason, you do not want to include it in your diet, but it is important to contact a nutrition professional who will help you understand how to integrate any deficiencies.
In summary, we report the nutritional properties of rice milk in the table below. The data comes from the US tables, which are the most complete.
Nutritional values per 100g of rice milk:
- Kcal: 47
- Carbohydrates: 9.17 g
- Sugars: 5.28 g
- Proteins: 0.28 g
- Fibers: 0.3 g
- Waterfall: 89.3 g
- Fat: 0.97 g
- Soccer: 118 mg
- Iron: 0.2 mg
- Potassium: 27 mg
- Phosphorus: 56 mg
- Sodium: 39 mg
- Vitamin B1: 0.027 mg
- Vitamin B2: 0.142 mg
- Vitamin B3: 0.39 mg
- Vitamin B5: 0.146 mg
- Vitamin A: 208 iu
- Vitamin D: 42 iu
Rice milk: the health benefits
As we have seen, the rice-based drink is low in calories and low in minerals and vitamins. However, rice milk can be considered a good alternative to cow’s milk and its derivatives, especially in some specific cases.
✓ Lactose intolerance
Lactose intolerant individuals can benefit from replacing cow’s milk with rice milk, which is devoid of it.
✓ Syndrome of the irritable bowel
It is very common for individuals with irritable bowel syndrome to benefit from a lactose-free (and therefore dairy-free) diet. In this case, if a diet low in fodmaps is recommended, rice milk could be a valid alternative.
✓ Multiple allergies or cow’s milk allergy
Rice milk is well tolerated by children with multiple allergies. In particular, even in the case of rice allergy, the hydrolyzed rice-based formulas were tolerated by most children.
✓ Calcium deficiency
We have seen that the calcium content in rice milk is discrete and therefore this drink can be considered a valid help in case of calcium deficiencies.
✓ Low cholesterol diet
As we have seen above, rice milk is free of cholesterol and saturated fats, therefore, it is suitable for people who have to reduce these elements in their diet.
Rice milk: how to make it at home
We have seen together that the rice drink that we find in the supermarket is often added with additives and vegetable fats. However, there is a solution: to consume homemade rice milk. The preparation of rice milk is in fact quite simple and we could get a preservative-free drink.
Only three ingredients are needed: rice, which we advise you to prefer organic, water and a pinch of salt, preferably wholemeal. The only flaw, if we can call it that, is the expiry date: the rice milk prepared as follows must be kept in the fridge and consumed within 3-4 days. We will now explain in detail how to make rice milk.
- 60 grams of rice
- 1.2 liters of water
- 1/5 teaspoon of whole salt
- Rinse the rice under running water to remove part of the starch;
- Boil the water in a saucepan; when the water has come to a boil, add the rice, lower the heat and let it cook for about half an hour, until the rice is overcooked;
- Turn off the heat, cover the saucepan with a lid and let it cool;
- When it has cooled, add the salt and blend with an immersion blender;
- Filter the drink with the help of a sieve and bottle the rice milk obtained.
Alternatively, you can prepare the rice milk by soaking the grains for 24 hours after rinsing them: in this case you can reduce the cooking time to ten minutes.
Rice milk: tips for using it in the kitchen
The rice drink can not only be used as it is, for example at breakfast, but is suitable for multiple preparations. In particular, we can use it, taking into account the sugary taste of rice milk, in the preparation of desserts, instead of cow’s milk (generally in the same quantities).
Among the recipes with salted rice milk we can mention the one for bechamel, in a more digestible version than the traditional one. Rice milk can also be used to marinate meat and fish and make them softer. If you choose to add ethnic spices to the marinade you will get dishes with an oriental flavor! Finally, rice milk can also be fermented and used for the preparation of cheeses.
Rice milk: the possible contraindications
Among the contraindications of rice milk, the first concerns the consumption of sugary products: in this case we must consider this drink like other sugary drinks: their consumption should always be limited and is not suitable for those suffering from diabetes or insulin resistance. Furthermore, since rice milk has a rather high glycemic index compared to cow’s milk (86 against 39 for whole cow’s milk), even a product without added sugars should still be limited in case of diabetes.
We would also like to underline that in some researches it was found an arsenic content in rice milk higher than that allowed for drinking water. The reference research is a US research, but it allows us to suggest that you prefer organic products or, once again, products prepared at home by you!
Does using rice milk help you lose weight?
Rice milk is a drink containing few calories and among the benefits of rice milk we can therefore include that of being suitable for a slimming diet. Replacing rice milk with other more caloric drinks (such as sugary drinks or fruit juices), in fact, can help us lose weight as long as we do not overdo it and choose products without added sugars. Conversely we could get the opposite effect.
Replacing cow’s milk with rice milk, however, will not necessarily help us lose weight. In fact, skimmed or semi-skimmed cow’s milk is a drink that contains more or less the same calories as rice milk, but has a higher protein content and a lower carbohydrate and sugar content.