Puffed rice cakes are many a dieter’s favorite because they contain fewer calories than bread and keep hunger at bay. Even though there are several brands of puffed rice cakes glazed with white chocolate, dark chocolate or yogurt, plain rice cakes are the most recommended because they do not contain excess calories.
Puffed rice cakes are not very flavorful, but they can be combined with rich-tasting foods; this is even recommended as long as they are topped with foods rich in proteins, vitamins and fibers.
Let’s learn about the nutritional values of puffed rice cakes, as well as their beneficial effects, risks and how you can introduce them in your diet.
Rice cakes are not renowned for being very nutritious, given that all they contain is rice and air. They are poor in vitamins, minerals, proteins, and essential fibers. The only advantage of rice cakes is that they do not contain too much fat.
One plain rice cake (9–10 g) contains about 35 kcal, mostly carbohydrates. As a comparison, a slice of whole wheat bread of about 30 g contains 70 kcal. Based upon these numbers, one may think that that rice cakes are a better choice for dieters; this is wrong, however, given the fact that they have much less fibers and nutrients.
Rice cakes contain very small amounts of vitamin D, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), iron, potassium, zinc, copper, and selenium. Also, it has been proven that the extrusion process of the rice reduces the content of antioxidants.
Nutritional value of 35 g of rice cakes:
- 7.38 g carbohydrates
- 0.4 g fibers
- 0.3 g proteins
- 0.3 g fats
- 4% of the daily recommended dose of vitamin B3 (niacin)
- 4% of the daily recommended dose of magnesium
- 3% of the daily recommended dose of phosphorus
- 17% of the daily recommended dose of manganese
The salt (sodium) content of rice cakes varies depending on the brand, and their sugar content depends on the additives or other ingredients such as chocolate or yogurt, which may increase significantly the number of calories.
Health benefits of rice cakes on health
Rice cakes have certain benefits on health, but they also have some disadvantages.
For example, if you choose brown rice cakes, they will have a beneficial effect on your digestion and intestinal transit.
A diet rich in whole grains reduces the risk of chronical illnesses such as obesity, diabetes or cardiovascular illnesses, according to studies.
Another advantage of eating puffed rice cakes is that they do not contain gluten, so they can be eaten by those who are intolerant or allergic to gluten.
Care should be taken, however, as some rice cake products have other kinds of cereal in their composition, which contain gluten. Therefore, if you suffer from celiac disease, read the label of the product carefully.
Puffed rice and the glycemic index
Puffed rice has a rather high glycemic index of over 70, which can be problematic for people with diabetes, because the carbohydrates in puffed rice may raise blood sugar levels.
To counterbalance this unwanted effect, it is recommended to combine puffed rice cakes with other foods, preferably rich in proteins and fibers, such as meat, cheese, hummus, peanut butter, fruit, and fresh vegetables.
Rice cake sandwiches
If you do not have problems with your glycemic index and want to reduce your calorie intake, you can make flavorful and appetizing rice cakes to snack on between main meals.
To counterbalance the effect of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels, you should try the following combinations:
- Hummus, cucumber, and tomato slices
- Cream cheese, smoked salmon, and cucumber slices
- Peanut butter and banana slices
- Almond butter and sliced strawberries
- Guacamole and mozzarella slices
- Turkey ham and sliced tomatoes
- Cream cheese and sliced radishes
- Tuna salad and celery stalks
- Mozzarella, tomato slices, and fresh basil