Updated 6/24/2022 by Dan Jackowiak Nc, HHP
Rice milk is also named plant milk, manufactured commercially using brown rice and brown rice syrup. It is sweetened by adding sugar or sugar substitute. Flavors are added to enhance the taste and fragrance, i.e., vanilla-flavored rice milk. It is commonly fortified with protein, carbohydrates, and micro-nutrients, such as iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, or vitamin D. It is also available as an unsweetened drink.
Rice milk is a flavored substitute for animal milk. It is not milk but the extracted liquid of rice grain used as a drink by people with lactose intolerance. It is smooth, full of flavor, slightly foamy, and similar in appearance to other milk forms. Rice milk is more digestible than soy milk or any other nut milks like almonds. So, it is good to have with anything that calls for regular milk. It is also suitable for celiac, lactose intolerant, and, of course, for vegans (1).
Rice milk's detailed history of origin remains unknown. In 1914, in her book Meatless Cookery, Maria M. Gilbert gave a recipe of rice milk that was considered the first origin. Later, The Vita Rice Products Co opened Vita Rice Milk in San Francisco, California, the first rice dairy facility in 1921 (2). In 1990, California was considered to be the first rice milk dairy farm of that time. It was prepared initially by pressing rice in the mill, followed by filtration, and then blending with water. Later, flavors were added (2).
Nowadays, it is prepared at home easily using brown rice protein or flour, boiling brown rice with a large amount of water, blending, and filtering the mixture.
Rice milk is a plant-based beverage with a lot of nutrients benefits. One cup of rice milk (244 grams) contains about 115 calories (3). They are a rich source of carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients are part of a daily diet.
One cup of rice milk (224 grams) contains 22 grams of carbohydrates and 13 grams of natural sugar (3). Rice milk is rich in sugar with a high glycemic index. So, it is not suitable for diabetic people.
One cup of rice milk (224 grams) contains 0.7 grams of fiber (3). Fibers help to maintain normal blood pressure. They also help to regulate bowel movements and prevent constipation.
Rice milk is not a good source of proteins. One cup of rice milk (224 grams) contains 0.7 grams of proteins (3).
One cup of rice milk (224 grams) contains 2.37 grams of fats (3). Monounsaturated fatty acids are the major fatty acids in rice milk. One cup of rice milk (224 grams) contains 1.525 grams of monounsaturated fatty acids and 0.764 grams of polyunsaturated fatty acids (3). Rice milk does not contain saturated fatty acids.
Vitamins and Minerals
Rice milk is a rich source of vitamins and minerals. One cup of rice milk (224 grams) contains 153.72 micrograms of vitamin A, 2.44 micrograms of vitamin D, 1.15 milligrams of vitamin E, and 0.5 micrograms of vitamin k (3). Vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folate, and choline are about 70% of the nutrient composition of rice milk. Vitamin B6 and B12 are very important nutrients present in rice milk.
Rice milk is also a rich source of minerals. Minerals present in rice milk are iron, magnesium, calcium, sodium, phosphorus, and potassium. One cup of rice milk (224 grams) contains 280.74 micrograms of calcium. It is important for bone strength and also prevents osteoporosis. Magnesium, phosphorus, and sodium make 26.84 milligrams, 136.64 milligrams, and 95.16 milligrams of rice milk mineral components, respectively (3).
The body contains free radicals that are unstable molecules disturbing the body's normal functioning when accumulated at high concentration. These accumulated free radicals must be removed; antioxidants help to remove them. Antioxidants are compounds present in the body that remove free radicals. Rice milk contains antioxidants that help in strengthening the immune system. These antioxidants improve immunity by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation (4).
Manganese and selenium are the antioxidants in rice milk with anti-cancer activity. These compounds reduce the risk of cancer by destroying the cancer-causing agents. Rice milk also contains para-aminobenzoic acid, a powerful antioxidant. Para-aminobenzoic acid protects the skin from UV rays and is beneficial for maintaining skin health. Inositol is another antioxidant in rice milk that has a role in blood circulation and cell regeneration (4).
Fortified rice milk is enriched with a variety of minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium, and vitamin D. All these minerals have a role in maintaining bone strength and health. Rice milk improves the density of bones and lowers the risk of osteoporosis. Rice milk is a milk alternative with low lactose content, which boosts digestion and maintains a healthy digestive system. In the gut, rice milk improves the bacterial environment. Thus, protecting you against infections and prevents indigestion (5).
Rice milk is a low-fat drink with no cholesterol. Rice milk regulates the level of cholesterol and elevates the production of red blood cells. Moreover, it maintains the flow of blood in the body. Thus, consumption of rice milk is associated with heart health. It reduces the risk of heart-related diseases such as atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, heart attack, and strokes (1).
Rice milk contains a high content of sugar and carbohydrates. This carbohydrate-rich drink boosts your energy. It is used as an energy drink by athletes. Rice milk is also recommended for children and elders to re-energize their bodies by boosting their levels of energy (6).
Rice milk has anti-cancer properties. Manganese and selenium are the potent antioxidants present in rice milk. Rice milk possesses anti-cancer activity due to the presence of these nutrients. These nutrients reduce the risk of cancer by destroying cancer-causing agents and other carcinogenic compounds.
Rice milk possesses antioxidant activity, which helps in strengthening the immunity and reduces the recovery process from illnesses. This antioxidant activity of rice milk captures the body's free radicals and converts them into compounds useful for the body. Rice milk improves the overall performance of the immune system by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity of rice milk reduces the risk of chronic diseases (4).
Rice milk is a good source of vitamin B along with antioxidants. Vitamin B is necessary for maintaining the circulation of body fluids and metabolism, which aids in fighting diseases. Thus, it keeps your body fit and protects you from all kinds of infections (7).
Rice milk is enriched with antioxidants that are beneficial for maintaining skin health. Para-aminobenzoic acid is the antioxidant that protects the skin from UV rays and prevents the damaging of skin from sunburn. Inositol is another significant nutrient of rice milk. Inositol maintains blood circulation and improves cell regeneration. This property of rice milk helps in slowing the process of aging and reduces the appearance of blemishes and wrinkles.
Rice milk is also helpful in boosting breast milk production. Consumption of rice milk is associated with increased milk production. Rice milk is beneficial for nursing a baby by increasing the milk percentage in a mother's breast. It also nourishes the mother (8).
Rice milk is not suitable for diabetic people. It contains a high amount of carbohydrates and sugar with a glycemic index ranging from 79 to 92. The higher the glycemic index is associated with a greater blood glucose level. Thus, rice milk may cause a sudden increase in sugar levels, which is an alarming condition for diabetic people. Rice contains a high level of arsenic. Excessive consumption of rice products may contribute to the development of potential health risks in infants and children due to high arsenic levels (9).
Because of the high levels of carbohydrates and sugars, with a glycemic index of 79 to 92, rice milk should not be consumed on the Candida diet.
I would use unsweetened almond or coconut milk as a replacement. Both varieties contain only 1gram of carbohydrates and no sugar per cup.
1. Plant-Based Milks: Rice.
2. Powell V. A brief history of plant milks [Internet]. 2018. Available from: https://www.veganfoodandliving.com/features/a-brief-history-of-plant-milks/
3. Nutrition Value. Nutrition facts for Rice Milk recommended daily values and analysis. [Internet]. Available from: https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Rice_milk_nutritional_value.html?size=1+cup+%3D+244+g
4. Deeseenthum S, Luang-In V, Chunchom S. Characteristics of Thai Pigmented Rice Milk Kefirs with Potential as Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Foods. Pharmacogn J [Internet]. 2018 Dec;10:154–61. Available from: http://fulltxt.org/article/412
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6. Aydar EF, Tutuncu S, Ozcelik B. Plant-based milk substitutes: Bioactive compounds, conventional and novel processes, bioavailability studies, and health effects. J Funct Foods [Internet]. 2020;70(December 2019):103975. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jff.2020.103975
7. Zandona L, Lima C, Lannes S. Plant-Based Milk Substitutes: Factors to Lead to Its Use and Benefits to Human Health. In: Milk Substitutes. IntechOpen; 2020.
8. Miyaji M, Matsuyama H, Hosoda K. Effect of substituting brown rice for corn on lactation and digestion in dairy cows fed diets with a high proportion of grain. J Dairy Sci [Internet]. 2014;97(2):952–60. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.3168/jds.2013-7046
9. Meharg AA, Deacon C, Campbell RCJ, Carey A-M, Williams PN, Feldmann J, et al. Inorganic arsenic levels in rice milk exceed EU and US drinking water standards. J Environ Monit. 2008;10(4):428–31.
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