Rice is a staple for more than half of the world’s population.  It is nutritious, easy to digest, and plentiful- thus an excellent component in world feeding programs.  It is a food that is consumed throughout the world and included in nearly all cultures.  Rice is versatile and easy to prepare, store, handle, and distribute.  It is comprised of mostly complex carbohydrates, contains essential amino acids and has the highest quality protein of all the grains.

Rice is perfect for food aid because it is:
   • Rich in complex carbohydrates*
   • Contains all eight essential amino acids*
   • Cholesterol and sodium-free *
   • Hypoallergenic*
   • Therapeutic for some digestive disorders
   • Easy to handle/transport
   • Readily available
   • Shelf life of two years
   • Meets USG "processed" food requirement**
   • Meets the USG "bagged in the US" requirement**

* Very important points for improving the nutritional levels of those who have compromised immune systems.
**Congressional mandate for USAID Title II programs.

The digestibility of rice is about 88% which contributes to its good protein quality. Digestibility is important because it infers bioavailability of nutrients, a problem in developing countries. Using Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Scoring, a method for evaluating protein quality, rice is 0.55 while corn is 0.42 and wheat is 0.40. This method of evaluating protein quality is useful to food aid professionals in planning diets with adequate protein since less protein is needed in diets when higher quality protein is included and using a scale of 0.0 to 1.0 makes it easy to see how protein foods can be most effectively utilized.

The nutritional values of long, medium, and short grain rice are essentially the same within each variety or classification (i.e., brown or white). Here is a comparison chart of brown rice, unenriched white rice, and parboiled rice:

  Brown White (unenriched) Parboiled (unenriched)
 ¼ cup raw
(46.25 grams) 
 ¼ cup raw
(46.25 grams)
 ¼ cup raw
(46.25 grams)
Proximates (Macronutrients)
 Calories  kcal  171  169  172
 Protein  g  3.64  3.30  3.14
 Total Fat
 g  1.35  0.31  0.26
 Carbohydrate  g  35.72  36.98  37.80
 Fiber  g  1.62  0.60  0.79
 Calcium, Ca mg  10.64  12.95  27.75
 Iron, Fe  mg  0.68  0.37  0.69
  Magnesium, Mg   mg  66.14  11.56  14.34
 Phosphorus, P  mg  154.01  53.19  62.90
 Potassium, K
 mg  103.14  53.19  55.50
 Sodium, Na  mg  3.24  2.31  2.31
 Zinc, Zn  mg  0.93  0.50  0.44
 Copper, Cu  mg  0.13  0.10  0.09
 Manganese, Mn  mg  1.73  0.50  0.39
 Selenium, Se  mg  10.82  6.98  10.64