Italian pasta vs Chinese rice: Which is healthier to eat?

Rice and pasta are two very popular foods, but they represent different kinds of staple food. In the south of China, people prefer having rice for their staple food, while in the north people eat noodles or pasta more often. As a staple food, these two kinds of food must have great nutritional value, but which one is healthier?

Carbohydrates and Calories

As staple foods, pasta and rice play a major role in providing energy for daily activities, so carbohydrate content and calories are one of the most important indicators for evaluating these two foods. In this respect, rice is considered healthier for daily consumption in comparison to pasta. As rice contains less carbohydrates than pasta, only 25%, while pasta contains 75% carbohydrates, almost three times as much as rice. At the same time, the calorie content of pasta is 350 calories per 100 grams, which is also three times the calorie content of rice.

Vitamins and Minerals

In this area of evaluation, pasta performs just as well as rice. Each cup of pasta contains 4% vitamin A, 16% thiamine, 13% nicotinic acid, 11% vitamin B6 and 7% folic acid. It also provides 5% iron, 3% magnesium, 27% phosphorus, 9% potassium, 13% zinc, 11% copper, 25% manganese and 12% selenium. A cup of rice contains 17% thiamine, 12% nicotinic acid, 7% vitamin B6, 23% folic acid and 6% pantothenic acid. It also provides 2% calcium, 11% iron, 5% magnesium, 7% phosphorus, 2% potassium, 5% zinc, 5% copper, 37% manganese and 17% selenium. In addition, it’s worth noting that pasta contains more dietary fiber than rice.


Although both pasta and rice contain a certain amount of protein, their content is not high, so they can not be regarded as a complete protein based food, so they both perform average in this field. In order to compensate for their protein deficiencies, rice or pasta should be eaten with a lot of vegetables and other protein-rich foods, such as beans, fish, chicken, seafood, in order to achieve a balanced diet.

From the above three points, we can see that in terms of nutrition, the health levels of pasta and rice are comparable, but they each have their own characteristics. Pasta as a low fat staple food is very suitable for weight loss, because it can provide more energy with the same amount of intake & can maintain longer periods of activity. Rice is more digestible and rich in resistant starch, which is very beneficial to our intestinal bacteria. Therefore, as long as pasta and rice are cooked in a healthy and reasonable way, and vegetables and protein rich food are eaten at the same time, they can both be used as staple foods in a healthy diet.