This vs that: Orzo vs rice

Healthy Food Guide examines which carb is more nutritionally dense: orzo, white rice or brown rice.

Orzo (it’s also called risoni) is small rice-shaped pasta which can be used in many recipes instead of rice. We compared a 2/3 cup serve of cooked orzo, 2/3 cup of cooked brown rice and 1 cup of cooked white basmati rice. As white rice is not as dense, these serves deliver a similar weight of food.

2/3 cup
2/3 cup
1 cup
kJs 900kJ 800kJ 760kJ
Carbs 44g 40g 39g
Protein 7.1g 3.5g 4.5g
Fat 0.9g 1.5g 0.6g
Fibre 1.8g 2.5g 1.3g

These have a similar carbohydrate content but orzo delivers twice the protein of brown rice and a few more kilojoules. These are all low in fat. Brown rice provides nearly twice the fibre of white rice. When cooled, orzo, like all pasta, produces resistant starch, an important type of fibre.

Vitamins and minerals

Brown rice is a good source of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and B6, as well as delivering smaller amounts of iron, zinc and selenium. Orzo is a good source of thiamin and niacin, also providing some B6, folate, iron and zinc. White rice delivers more zinc than the others, but has much smaller amounts of other nutrients.

Winner: Brown rice

All of these fit in a healthy diet, and variety is important, but brown rice wins as a ‘go to’ carb.

First published: October 2016
Last updated: July 30 2018
Last science review: October 10 2016

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