The paleo diet, also known as the caveman diet, is a popular eating plan based on the presumed traditional dietary patterns of hunter-gatherers during the Paleolithic era.
Several food groups are typically excluded from this diet, including legumes, grains, and most dairy products.
Although rice is a grain, there’s some confusion about whether it fits into a paleo diet plan.
This article reviews whether rice is compliant with the paleo diet and provides a few examples of paleo-friendly rice substitutes.
Grains are one of the major food groups prohibited on the paleo diet. These include wheat, corn, bread, pasta, cereal, oats, rye, barley, and rice.
This is done for a variety of reasons, one of which is the relatively high concentration of phytates, or phytic acid, in grains and grain-based products.
Phytic acid is a naturally occurring compound present in various plant-based foods, including grains, legumes, and nuts.
Although phytates have some benefits, they can bind to minerals like iron, zinc, and calcium, rendering them unavailable for absorption in your digestive tract (
Because of their ability to block the absorption of these nutrients, they’re sometimes referred to as antinutrients (
Paleo dieters assert that consuming phytates from grains is unhealthy, as it reduces the nutrient availability in your food. Thus, grains should be avoided.
However, there isn’t strong evidence to suggest that a moderate intake of phytates causes significant harm in people following a well-balanced diet.
Many grain and cereal products are fortified to ensure that any lost nutrients are added back in. Also, grains can be spouted to increase the bioavailability of certain nutrients, such as iron.
Some paleo dieters do eat white rice
Some people who adhere to a paleo lifestyle approach it with considerably more flexibility than others.
Because rice is gluten-free and a staple food of some of the healthiest populations around the world, many paleo dieters choose to consume it sparingly (
Oftentimes, white rice is the preferred variety, as it’s lower in phytic acid than brown rice.
The process by which brown rice is converted into white rice involves the removal of the most phytate-rich components of the rice grain, namely the bran and germ (
Grains like rice are traditionally excluded from paleo diets due to their high phytate content. Still, some people choose to include small amounts of white rice, as it’s relatively low in phytic acid.
If you’re having difficulty finding decent rice substitutes as you transition to a paleo diet, consider these paleo-friendly swaps:
- Cauliflower rice. Use a food processor to process fresh cauliflower into a rice-like consistency.
- Konjac rice. This paleo-friendly rice substitute is made from a type of root vegetable known as konjac. Miracle Rice and Magic Rice are two popular commercially produced brands of konjac rice.
- Broccoli rice. This swap is similar to cauliflower rice, but you use broccoli instead of cauliflower.
- Butternut squash rice. You can prepare this substitute like cauliflower and broccoli rice, but use peeled butternut squash instead.
If you’re fully committed to adopting the paleo diet, it may also be a good idea to get comfortable using foods other than rice to get your fill of starchy carbs.
Although they don’t have a rice-like texture, paleo-friendly starches like potatoes, plantains, and yams are all nutritious carb sources that can be used in place of rice.
Rice substitutes made from vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli are among the most popular paleo-friendly rice swaps.
The paleo diet is an eating pattern based on the traditional diets of early human ancestors.
Strict paleo dieters exclude all grains from their diets — including rice — primarily due to their high phytate content.
Although it’s technically prohibited, many people still consume small amounts of white rice while following a paleo diet because it’s lower in phytates, compared with other types.
Some of the most popular paleo-friendly rice substitutes are made from vegetables that are processed into a rice-like consistency.
If you’re transitioning to a paleo diet, you can either choose to include small amounts of rice in your diet or begin to focus on eating other foods like potatoes to meet your needs for starchy carbs.