Rice Cake Nutrition Info

Nut butter. A peanut butter powder mixed with water, cashew butter, and almond butter are good sources of protein.

What to Know About Rice Cake Nutrition

Rice cakes are a popular snack that has become a pantry staple. They’re low-fat and can carry various toppings to make them tastier. By themselves, they are a dry, crispy snack.

These snacks are made from puffed rice pressed together to form a circular cake. While it’s a simple snack, there’s more to know about the health effects of rice cakes. Read on to find out if you should keep these snacks in your pantry or include them as your in-between snacks.

Nutritional Value of Rice Cakes

The health benefits of rice cakes have been the subject of some debate. One plain unsalted brown rice cake has:

  • 35 calories
  • 7.3 grams carbohydrates
  • 0.7 grams protein
  • 0.4 grams fiber
  • 0.3 milligrams manganese
  • 0.7 milligrams niacin
  • 32.4 milligrams phosphorus
  • 11.8 milligrams magnesium
  • 2.2 micrograms selenium

Rice cakes are healthier when they’re made of brown rice. Rice grain is a good source of carbohydrates and proteins. Whole brown rice has more nutrients like protein, lipids, minerals, and vitamins than refined white rice, because they’re stripped away during the refining process.

But most refined rice cakes might not be more than carbohydrates with little nutrition. Because they’re low in calories, they might seem healthy, which could make you want to eat more of them. Try to eat them in moderation, and add nutrients with healthy toppings.

Health Effects of Rice Cakes

Rice cakes have their pros and cons.

Easy snack. Rice cakes are a good mini-snack to hold you over in between meals. Eating frequent small snacks can give you the energy to stay active and maintain good health. A healthy snack, like a rice cake with nut butter, can be a filling in-between snack.

Better diet quality. Eating brown rice regularly is great for your fiber intake. A rice cake made from brown rice can be healthier for you.

Glucose regulation. The nutrients in brown rice have been shown to regulate blood glucose.

High glycemic index. A food’s glycemic index rating tells you about its effects on blood sugar. Rice cakes are a high glycemic index food, along with things like crackers, bagels, cakes, doughnuts, croissants, and white bread. Eating a lot of these foods may raise your risk of some health conditions.

Other concerns. Certain rice cakes, like those coated in chocolate, have a lower nutritional value. They can be high in fat, saturated fat, and sugar. Choosing a plain brown rice cake and topping it with fruit or nutritional nut butter can be healthier and more filling.

How to Top Your Rice Cakes

Here are some healthy options to liven up a plain rice cake.

Turkey BLT. Add slices of turkey bacon, lettuce, tomato, and cheese spread on your rice cake for protein.

Cottage cheese and avocado. Top with ¼ cup of cottage cheese and sliced avocado. Cottage cheese is a good source of protein, and avocado has good fat.

Tuna salad. Mix ½ cup of tuna with 1 tablespoon of mayo. Add a leaf of lettuce on top for some greens.

Nut butter. A peanut butter powder mixed with water, cashew butter, and almond butter are good sources of protein.

Hummus and cucumber. Topping with 2 tablespoons of hummus and ½ cup of sliced cucumbers is a healthy way to add flavor to your rice cake. Hummus is a good source of protein and fiber.

Greek yogurt and berries. If you prefer sweets, try ¼ cup of plain Greek yogurt and a handful of raspberries, blueberries, or sliced strawberries. Greek yogurt is a good source of protein. You can also add a dollop of honey to make it even sweeter.

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Show Sources

Cleveland Clinic: “7 Worst Snacks Your Dietician Would Never Eat.”

Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety: “Brown Rice Versus White Rice: Nutritional Quality, Potential Health Benefits, Development of Food Products, and Preservation Technologies.”

Diabetes UK: “Crackers.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “Choosing good carbs with the glycemic index.”

Health Beet: “Top 17 Protein Toppings for Rice Cakes.”

Memorial Hermann: “The Best Healthy Snacks for Athletes.”

University of Arkansas: “Rice Consumption and Effects of Rice Cake, Seolgitteok, on Human Health.”

USDA: “Snacks, rice cakes, brown rice, plain, unsalted.”

Are Rice Cakes a Healthy Snack? Nutrition, Calories, and More

Rice Cake Nutrition Info

Rice cakes were a popular snack during the low fat craze of the nineties — but you may wonder whether you should still be eating them as a snack.

Made from puffed rice pressed together into a cake, rice cakes are often eaten as a low calorie substitute for bread and crackers.

While flavored varieties are available, the most basic kind is made from only rice and sometimes salt. As you might expect, they don’t have much flavor on their own.

This article looks at rice cake nutrition, health benefits and downsides, and how to enjoy rice cakes.

rice cakes on a wooden cutting board with various toppings, including avocado and peanut butter

Rice cakes are essentially rice and air and thus don’t boast an impressive nutrient profile.

One plain rice cake (9 grams) made from brown rice offers ( 1 ):

They also contain minimal amounts of several other vitamins and minerals ( 1 ).

Their sodium content depends on whether they’re salted. If you’re watching your salt intake, check the sodium on the Nutrition Facts panel of your rice cakes or look at the ingredients for added salt.

Additionally, the process of puffing rice — which is used in making rice cakes — has been shown to decrease the rice’s antioxidant content ( 2 ).

Keep in mind that this nutrition information is for plain rice cakes only. Flavored varieties often contain added sugars and other ingredients.

Summary

Rice cakes are low in essential vitamins and minerals. They’re basically fat-free and contain very little protein or fiber.

Some of the benefits of rice cakes are that they’re low in calories, they’re typically gluten-free, and they’re sometimes made with whole grains.

Low in calories

One rice cake (9 grams) has 35 calories, primarily from carbs ( 1 ).

Many people eat rice cakes in place of bread or crackers, both of which can be higher in calories.

It may feel like you’re eating more because the air in the rice cakes helps make you feel full, but the flip side is that in order to save calories, you’ll need to stick to a reasonable portion size of rice cake.

This is because, ounce-for-ounce and gram-for-gram, rice cakes actually contain more calories than white bread and a similar amount of calories as saltine crackers ( 1 , 3 , 4 ).

Some contain whole grains

Rice cakes can be made using whole grain brown rice.

A diet high in whole grains has been proven to lower the risk of chronic diseases.

A large study in more than 360,000 people found that those who consumed the most whole grains — such as brown rice — had a 17% lower risk of death from all causes than those who ate the fewest whole grains ( 5 ).

However, not all rice cakes on the market use brown rice, so look for “whole grain brown rice” on the label to ensure that you’re buying one with whole grains.

Most are gluten-free

Rice cakes made solely from rice are gluten-free.

Some varieties incorporate barley or other gluten-containing grains, so be sure to read the label carefully if you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

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Additionally, rice cakes are widely available, which makes them a convenient gluten-free option away from home. If you’re in a place where your favorite gluten-free products are unavailable, you will likely be able to find rice cakes in any mainstream grocery store.

Summary

Rice cakes are low in calories, made from whole grains (if made with brown rice), and usually gluten-free.

Rice cakes may raise your blood sugar, particularly if you eat multiple servings in one sitting or if you choose sweet-flavored varieties that contain added sugar.

They’re mostly carbs and have very little protein and fiber to slow the effect of these carbs on your blood sugar.

To blunt their effect on your blood sugar, combine them with protein, such as meat, cheese, hummus, or nut butter, and add fiber to your snack in the form of fruits or veggies ( 6 , 7 ).

Also, if you’re choosing them only because they’re low in calories and you think they’re healthy, but you don’t actually like them, they may not be the best choice for a snack. There are other nutritious options you can eat.

Summary

Rice cakes are likely to raise your blood sugar quickly when eaten by themselves.

Rice cakes are mostly quickly digesting carbs that will increase blood sugar levels, so on their own, they’re not the best choice for people with diabetes.

However, a single plain rice cake contains only about 7 grams of carbs, so it may easily fit into your carb allotment for a meal or snack ( 1 ).

Regardless, try to stick to just one serving as a snack and add healthy protein, fat, and fiber to both reduce the blood sugar effects and make the rice cake more filling and nutritious ( 6 , 7 ).

Some good rice cake toppings for people with diabetes are avocado, nut butter, and hummus.

Summary

Rice cakes are mostly carbs, which will increase blood sugar levels quickly. If you have diabetes, it’s best to stick to one serving and add healthy protein, fat, and fiber to reduce the effects on your blood sugar.

Rice cakes are low in calories, fiber, and protein. Most of the calories come from carbs ( 1 ).

Combining them with protein and fiber can balance their potential effect on your blood sugar ( 6 , 7 ).

You can buy many varieties of rice cakes, so they can be fairly versatile snacks. There are whole grain versions made with brown rice, miniature versions that are bagged like potato chips, and thin varieties.

Rice cakes also come in several flavor options, including savory flavors like sour cream and onion and cheddar and sweet flavors like chocolate and caramel.

Miniature savory-flavored rice cakes are a lower calorie alternative to potato chips, but it’s a good idea to eat them with a yogurt- or hummus-based dip to add some protein and fat.

Try pairing rice cakes with:

  • hummus and sliced cucumbers and tomatoes
  • cream cheese, smoked salmon, and sliced cucumbers
  • peanut butter and sliced bananas
  • almond butter and sliced strawberries
  • guacamole and sliced cheese
  • sliced turkey and tomatoes
  • white bean spread and radishes
  • tuna salad and celery
  • mashed avocado and an egg
  • tomato, basil, and mozzarella

Summary

A variety of rice cakes are available to purchase. Try pairing them with protein and healthy fat to minimize their impact on your blood sugar levels and build a more satisfying snack.

Rice cakes may be lower in calories than bread but also lower in fiber and other important nutrients.

Plain, whole grain brown rice varieties may be slightly healthier, but this gluten-free food is still likely to spike your blood sugar. To balance this effect, it’s best to pair rice cakes with protein and fiber.

Rice cakes may be a common low calorie snack, but there’s no real benefit to eating them if you don’t like them.

Just one thing

Try this today: For a crunchy snack, try a serving of nuts or seeds, like almonds, pistachios, or sunflower seeds. They provide lots of crunch but also a balanced amount of protein, fiber, and healthy fat.

Last medically reviewed on November 17, 2021

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Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for his studies of ageing, genetics and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics NAS of Ukraine. His scientific researches are printed by the most reputable international magazines. Some of his works are: Differences in the gut Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio across age groups in healthy Ukrainian population [BiomedCentral.com]; Mating status affects Drosophila lifespan, metabolism and antioxidant system [Science Direct]; Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum Increases Lifespan, Stress Resistance, and Metabolism by Affecting Free Radical Processes in Drosophila [Frontiersin].
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