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Rice vs. Buckwheat — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan by Victoria Mazmanyan | Last updated on December 22, 2022
Medically reviewed by Igor Bussel Article author photo Igor Bussel
Rice
vs
Buckwheat

Summary

Buckwheat is richer in dietary fiber and protein while being lower in calories and net carbs compared to white rice.

Rice is 4 times richer in vitamin B1 and vitamin B9 or folate. Buckwheat is overall richer in minerals and 3 times higher in vitamin B3.

Buckwheat has lower glycemic and insulin index values than rice, meaning its consumption raises glucose and insulin levels in the blood slower than rice.

White rice is a refined grain, while buckwheat is a whole grain.

Buckwheat can be considered the healthier option, as it has been researched to have beneficial impacts on cardiovascular health, diabetes, and cancer, unlike rice.

 

Introduction

Rice and buckwheat have their own unique set of nutrients and potential health impacts. It's important to consider your individual needs and preferences when choosing which one to incorporate into your diet. 

In this article, we will look into the differences and similarities between rice and buckwheat, mainly focusing on nutrition and health impact.

Classification

Even though both buckwheat and rice are used as cereals in the kitchen, buckwheat is not a true grain. Buckwheat is called a pseudocereal. It is the seed of a non-grass plant - Fagopyrum esculentum - that belongs to the Fagopyrum genus and Polygonaceae family. Other members of this family include rhubarb and sorrel.

Rice, on the other hand, is a true cereal grain, being the seed of a grass plant. The rice plant belongs to the Poaceae family and the Oryza genus. Rice shares this family with wheat, corn, barney, and millet.

Taste and Use

While both buckwheat and rice can be described as having a mild, earthy, or nutty taste, buckwheat can also be slightly bitter. Rice is relatively more neutral in taste. The flavor of rice can vary slightly depending on the type of rice, such as jasmine rice with a slightly floral aroma and basmati rice with a slightly nutty taste. 

Both are usually boiled and served on their own or as part of more complex meals. Rice is a staple in many cultures, typically used as a side dish or as the base for dishes like stir-fries and pilafs. Buckwheat is often used to make dishes like soba noodles, crepes, and porridge.

Varieties

Rice has dozens of various cultivars that differ from each other in size, color, taste, and other characteristics. Different varieties of buckwheat seeds, on the other hand, tend to look alike, differing slightly in size, taste, and nutrition.

Some of the most widely used buckwheat cultivars are Common, Tartary, Mancan, Manor, Koban, Koto, Manitoba, and Keukett.

Depending on the grain size, rice can be called long-grain rice, medium-grain rice, and short-grain rice.

Based on the species, rice is divided into two groups: the more commonly used Asian rice or Oryza sativa, and African rice or Oryza glaberrima.

Rice is also classified based on the degree of milling: rough rice (whole grain rice), brown rice (the grain with the bran but not the hull), and white rice (the rice grain with both the bran and the hull removed).

Asian rice is additionally divided into four major types: indica, japonica, aromatic and glutinous.

Oddly enough, the plant called “wild rice” is not directly related to domesticated rice.

Nutrition

The nutritional infographics below present information about roasted, cooked buckwheat groats and cooked, enriched, regular white-grain rice. 

Macronutrients and Calories

Rice is overall slightly denser in nutrients, containing about 31% nutrients and 69% water, while cooked buckwheat consists of 24% nutrients and 76% water.

The two grains have similar average serving sizes per person - one cup. For buckwheat, one cup weighs 168g, while one cup of rice is 158g.

Calories

White rice is significantly higher in calories, primarily due to net carbs. A 100g serving of rice contains 130 calories, whereas the same serving of buckwheat has 92 calories.

In other words, one cup of rice provides 205 calories, while one cup of buckwheat has 155 calories.

Carbohydrates

White rice is notably higher in overall carbohydrates due to net carbs, whereas buckwheat is almost 7 richer in dietary fiber.

A 100g serving of rice contains 28g of carbohydrates, while the same serving of buckwheat provides 20g. White rice provides almost 11g more net carbs per every 100g serving.

The net carb content in rice is mainly made up of starch.

However, in the same 100g serving, white rice contains only 0.4g of dietary fiber, whereas buckwheat provides 2.7g.

The dietary fiber found in buckwheat is predominantly soluble. At the same time, rice contains mostly insoluble dietary fiber (1, 2).

Protein 

Buckwheat is richer in protein by about 25%. The same 100g servings of buckwheat and rice provide 3.38g and 2.69g of protein, respectively.

The protein found in these grains is of high quality, as they both contain some levels of all essential amino acids. However, rice and buckwheat are not excellent sources of protein, as they cover the daily needed amounts only when consumed in large portions.

Fats

Buckwheat and rice both contain only negligible amounts of fat.

Vitamins

Rice is 4 times richer in vitamin B1 and vitamin B9 or folate. Rice is also a better source of vitamins B3 and B6.

At the same time, buckwheat is 3 times higher in vitamin B2 and 2 times higher in vitamin E. Buckwheat provides vitamin K, which rice lacks entirely.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Rice
5
:
Contains more Vitamin B1 +307.5%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +57%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +20.8%
Contains more Folate +314.3%
Contains more Vitamin E +125%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +200%
Contains more Choline +857.1%
Contains more Vitamin K +∞%
Equal in Vitamin B5 - 0.359
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 0% 1% 0% 0% 41% 3% 28% 24% 22% 44% 0% 2% 0%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 0% 2% 0% 0% 10% 9% 18% 22% 18% 11% 0% 11% 5%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +307.5%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +57%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +20.8%
Contains more Folate +314.3%
Contains more Vitamin E +125%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +200%
Contains more Choline +857.1%
Contains more Vitamin K +∞%
Equal in Vitamin B5 - 0.359

Minerals

Buckwheat is overall richer in minerals. It provides 4 times more magnesium and 2 times more potassium and copper. Buckwheat is also richer in phosphorus and zinc.

Rice, however, is higher in calcium and iron while being lower in sodium.

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Rice
5
:
Contains more Calcium +42.9%
Contains more Iron +50%
Contains less Sodium -75%
Contains more Manganese +17.1%
Contains more Selenium +240.9%
Contains more Magnesium +325%
Contains more Phosphorus +62.8%
Contains more Potassium +151.4%
Contains more Zinc +24.5%
Contains more Copper +111.6%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 3% 45% 9% 19% 4% 1% 14% 24% 62% 41%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 3% 30% 37% 30% 8% 1% 17% 49% 53% 12%
Contains more Calcium +42.9%
Contains more Iron +50%
Contains less Sodium -75%
Contains more Manganese +17.1%
Contains more Selenium +240.9%
Contains more Magnesium +325%
Contains more Phosphorus +62.8%
Contains more Potassium +151.4%
Contains more Zinc +24.5%
Contains more Copper +111.6%

Glycemic Index

The glycemic index of buckwheat, boiled in water with 2g of salt, is calculated to be 51±10. This is a low glycemic index value.

The average glycemic index of boiled Basmati white rice, based on 10 different studies, has been calculated to be 60 (3). This is considered to be a medium glycemic index value.

Thus, even though the glycemic index values of buckwheat and rice are not drastically different, buckwheat raises blood glucose levels at a slower pace compared to rice.

You can visit our page to find a complete list of the glycemic index values of over 600 foods.

Insulin Index

The insulin index measures how much blood insulin levels rise after the consumption of a given food.

The insulin index values of buckwheat and rice have been calculated to be 53 and 79, respectively (4, 5).

Rice raises not only blood glucose but also insulin levels quicker compared to buckwheat. 

Weight Loss & Diets

Buckwheat and rice are both good options to use on a low-fat diet.

While buckwheat is the better choice for a low-calorie diet, rice can also be incorporated if consumed in moderation.

Gluten is a protein found in certain grains, including wheat, barley, and rye. Rice and buckwheat do not contain gluten, so they are often used as alternative grains for people who are sensitive to gluten or follow a gluten-free diet.

Buckwheat and rice do not fit into low-carb or keto diets.

Health Impact

Cardiovascular Health

Section reviewed by cardiologist Astghik Grigoryan Article author photo Astghik Grigoryan

Studies have concluded that increased consumption of buckwheat may help reduce total cholesterol and blood triglyceride levels (6).

Research has also found that a replacement diet with buckwheat products may have a protective effect on the development of cardiovascular disease by reducing circulating cardiovascular risk factors and markers of oxidative stress (7).

At the same time, some studies find a high intake of white rice potentially increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, while others find no significant associations (8, 9, 10).

The American Heart Association recommends choosing whole grains, such as buckwheat or brown rice, over refined grains, such as white rice, for improved health results (11).

Diabetes

Buckwheat has lower glycemic and insulin index values, meaning buckwheat consumption results in a lower blood glucose and insulin peak level compared to white rice.

Tartary buckwheat has been researched to have the potential to improve insulin resistance and lipid profile in type 2 diabetes patients (12).

Conversely, there is moderate evidence that white rice intake is associated with type 2 diabetes risk (10).

Cancer

Whole grains high in dietary fiber, such as buckwheat, can help reduce the risk of colorectal or bowel cancer (13).

Rice can be a source of the carcinogenic compound arsenic, but it has been studied in relation to cancer. A small increased risk of breast and bladder cancer was found to be associated with rice intake (14).

Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan
Education: General Medicine at YSMU
Last updated: December 22, 2022
Medically reviewed by Igor Bussel

Infographic

Rice vs Buckwheat infographic
Infographic link

Macronutrient Comparison

Macronutrient breakdown side-by-side comparison
Rice
1
:
Contains more Carbs +41.3%
Contains more Protein +25.7%
Contains more Fats +121.4%
Contains more Water +10.5%
Equal in Other - 0.43
3% 28% 68%
Protein: 2.69 g
Fats: 0.28 g
Carbs: 28.17 g
Water: 68.44 g
Other: 0.42 g
3% 20% 76%
Protein: 3.38 g
Fats: 0.62 g
Carbs: 19.94 g
Water: 75.63 g
Other: 0.43 g
Contains more Carbs +41.3%
Contains more Protein +25.7%
Contains more Fats +121.4%
Contains more Water +10.5%
Equal in Other - 0.43

Fat Type Comparison

Fat type breakdown side-by-side comparison
Rice
1
:
Contains less Saturated Fat -42.5%
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +113.6%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +147.4%
32% 37% 32%
Saturated Fat: 0.077 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.088 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.076 g
26% 37% 37%
Saturated Fat: 0.134 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.188 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.188 g
Contains less Saturated Fat -42.5%
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +113.6%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +147.4%

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the rightmost column. It displays the amounts side by side, giving a clearer understanding of the difference.
Rice Buckwheat
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in price ok
Lower in Glycemic Index ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal
Rich in minerals Equal
Rich in vitamins Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Rice Buckwheat Opinion
Net carbs 27.77g 17.24g Rice
Protein 2.69g 3.38g Buckwheat
Fats 0.28g 0.62g Buckwheat
Carbs 28.17g 19.94g Rice
Calories 130kcal 92kcal Rice
Fructose 0.1g Buckwheat
Sugar 0.05g 0.9g Rice
Fiber 0.4g 2.7g Buckwheat
Calcium 10mg 7mg Rice
Iron 1.2mg 0.8mg Rice
Magnesium 12mg 51mg Buckwheat
Phosphorus 43mg 70mg Buckwheat
Potassium 35mg 88mg Buckwheat
Sodium 1mg 4mg Rice
Zinc 0.49mg 0.61mg Buckwheat
Copper 0.069mg 0.146mg Buckwheat
Manganese 0.472mg 0.403mg Rice
Selenium 7.5µg 2.2µg Rice
Vitamin E 0.04mg 0.09mg Buckwheat
Vitamin B1 0.163mg 0.04mg Rice
Vitamin B2 0.013mg 0.039mg Buckwheat
Vitamin B3 1.476mg 0.94mg Rice
Vitamin B5 0.39mg 0.359mg Rice
Vitamin B6 0.093mg 0.077mg Rice
Folate 58µg 14µg Rice
Choline 2.1mg 20.1mg Buckwheat
Vitamin K 0µg 1.9µg Buckwheat
Tryptophan 0.031mg 0.049mg Buckwheat
Threonine 0.096mg 0.129mg Buckwheat
Isoleucine 0.116mg 0.127mg Buckwheat
Leucine 0.222mg 0.212mg Rice
Lysine 0.097mg 0.172mg Buckwheat
Methionine 0.063mg 0.044mg Rice
Phenylalanine 0.144mg 0.133mg Rice
Valine 0.164mg 0.173mg Buckwheat
Histidine 0.063mg 0.079mg Buckwheat
Saturated Fat 0.077g 0.134g Rice
Monounsaturated Fat 0.088g 0.188g Buckwheat
Polyunsaturated fat 0.076g 0.188g Buckwheat

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Rice Buckwheat
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low Glycemic Index diet ok

People also compare

Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score

The summary scores indicate the extent to which this food can fulfill your daily vitamin and mineral requirements if you consume 3 servings, consisting of 100 grams of each (an approximation of 3 serving sizes).
Vitamins Daily Need Coverage Score
12%
Rice
8%
Buckwheat
Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
22%
Rice
24%
Buckwheat

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Sugar?
Rice
Rice is lower in Sugar (difference - 0.85g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Rice
Rice contains less Sodium (difference - 3mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Rice
Rice is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.057g)
Which food is cheaper?
Rice
Rice is cheaper (difference - $1.4)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Buckwheat
Buckwheat is lower in glycemic index (difference - 9)
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)
Which food is richer in minerals?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.
Which food is richer in vitamins?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.

References

All the values for which the sources are not specified explicitly are taken from FDA’s Food Central. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Rice - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168878/nutrients
  2. Buckwheat - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170686/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.