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Exploring the Health Benefits of Rice Paper: Is it Healthy?
Nutrition

Exploring the Health Benefits of Rice Paper: Is it Healthy?

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on January 15, 2023
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8 min

Rice paper is a gluten-free food wrap made from rice flour. When used with healthy fillings such as fresh vegetables and high-quality protein, it makes a healthy addition to the diet. This article explores the health benefits of rice paper.

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Rice paper, also known as rice paper wrapper, is a thin, paper-like round sheet made from rice flour, salt, and water. It is commonly used in Asian-style dishes and is best known as rice paper wrap used to make spring rolls in Vietnamese cuisine, which is often deep-fried.

Often sold in rounds or squares, rice paper wraps are available in online grocery stores and Indian markets and are used as a healthier option for bread because they are lower in calories and fats. Replacing high-calorie bread with gluten-free paper wrappers is a good option for people with gluten intolerance and can help with weight loss.

Most rice paper wraps are made from white rice, while some are made from unrefined brown rice. The dry wraps are easy to store and use as they don’t require cooking. Once you dip the rice paper wrap in warm or cold water for a few minutes, it softens and transforms into a slightly chewy, translucent food wrap.

Are rice paper rolls healthy? This article looks into the nutritional profile of rice paper and whether it makes the cut for healthy food that helps to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

What Is Rice Paper?

Rice paper is an edible, thin, and translucent paper-like wrap used to wrap food when eating. The wrap is made from rice flour, water, and salt. It is used to make crispy rice paper spring rolls in Vietnamese cuisine and is often filled with shrimp, beef, or pork and fresh herbs and veggies and served with a dipping sauce.

Is Rice Paper Healthy?

Rice paper is healthy because it is rich in vitamins and minerals that the body requires for vital functions. The rolls are a good source of protein and carbohydrates and low in fat which makes them a healthy meal or snack option, especially when filled with veggies. They are a healthier option than refined flours, which contain gluten and are also high in calories and low in dietary fiber.

How Is Rice Paper Made?

Rice paper is made from rice flour using the same process for making rice noodles. The rice flour is mixed with tapioca powder, making the rice paper smooth and glutinous. It is then mixed with salt and water and processed into a thin rice cake that is dried and becomes paper-like. The rice paper wrapper is sold in translucent, crisp round sheets wrapped in cellophane.

5 Health Benefits of Rice Paper

#1 May boost energy

Rice paper is high in carbohydrates, which is beneficial to fuel the body and enable it to perform essential bodily functions. It is low in sugar, has a low glycemic index, and is a healthy option to provide energy without increased blood glucose levels.

#2 May aid in weight loss

Traditionally, rice paper wraps are stuffed with fresh vegetables, rice noodles, and meat. They increase satiety, reduce unhealthy snacking, curb cravings and appetite when paired with healthy fillings such as vegetables and lean protein sources, and can help with weight loss.

In addition, rice paper rolls require little cooking, contain no added fats, are lower in calories than other wraps, and are healthier than deep-fried foods or high-calorie bread. Eating less food reduces calorie intake and prevents weight gain, which is associated with an increased risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.

#3 Promotes healthy snacking

Most people tend to snack on high-calorie foods with added fats and processed sugars which increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Rice paper is lower in calories and fat and contains no preservatives or additives.

Rice paper wraps paired with veggies and protein such as lean beef, shrimp, or tofu make healthier, low-calorie options that keep you full longer.

#4 Provides the body with essential nutrients

Rice paper spring rolls contain a moderate carbohydrate and protein content and are an excellent option for people who want to maintain a healthy lifestyle. When paired with vegetables and low-fat protein, they provide the body with vitamins and minerals such as niacin, thiamin, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc.

Pairing the rice paper wraps with healthy protein such as shrimp, tuna, lean meat, and poultry and veggies such as carrots and lettuce boosts the nutritional profile and makes a healthy addition to the diet. Vegetarian rice paper rolls with tofu or legumes are also a good option.

#5 Good for digestive health

Rice papers are made from rice flour which is low-fat and easy to digest. They are an excellent option for people with gluten intolerance because they have no gluten. Rice paper rolls filled with more vegetables increase the amount of fiber which is beneficial for a healthy gut. A diet that is rich in fiber helps reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Nutrition Facts of Rice Paper

The nutrition content of rice paper rolls varies based on fillings and the type of ingredients used for the dipping, such as sesame oil or peanut sauce. Its nutritional profile differs from sushi rice or other wraps. Here is the nutrient content of the plain rice paper wrapper.

Nutritional value (per 100g)

Calories/Nutrient (per 100g)Amount
Calories (kcal)323
Net Carbs (g)71.8
Fiber (g)0.5
Sugar (g)0.27
Fats (Total, g)1.11
Protein (g)5.91
Cholesterol (mg)0

Source: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2343649/nutrients 

Moderate amount of calories

Rice paper wrap has about 323 calories per 100g serving. Rice paper has fewer calories than bread or wraps made from refined wheat or corn flour.

Low in fats

Rice paper wraps are low in fats, with only 1.11g per 100g serving, and have no cholesterol. Since the wraps also require little or no cooking, they contain fewer added fats.

Low in proteins

Rice paper wraps contain a moderate amount of protein. A 100g serving provides 5.91g, equivalent to about 10% of the recommended daily protein intake.

High carbohydrates

Rice paper rolls are relatively high in carbohydrates and contain 71.8g per 100g serving. However, they are low in sugars and contain minimal fiber. As they are high in net carbs, limit their consumption when on a keto diet or combine them with dishes low in net carbs.

Rich in vitamins and minerals

Rice paper wraps are high in vital vitamins and minerals, including niacin (6% daily value), phosphorus (11% daily value), selenium (8% daily value), and zinc (9% daily value). When combined with lean protein sources and healthy fats like avocado, it improves their nutritional value, providing iron, folic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, and calcium.

Rice Paper vs. Soy Paper

The table below gives the similarities and differences between the two edible papers.

 Rice paperSoy paper
IngredientsMade from rice flour, salt, and waterMade with soybeans, soybean oil, sesame oil or seeds, and soy flour
UsesMainly used to make spring rollsMainly used to make sushi
GlutenGluten-freeGluten-free
Carbohydrate contentIt has a high carb content but is low in sugarsLow in carbs and sugars
Fat contentLow in fats and has no cholesterolLow in fats and has zero cholesterol
AppearanceOften comes in a white translucent formIt comes in a variety of hues, such as green, white, orange, or yellow
FlavorBland flavorMild flavor

Healthy Recipe With Rice Paper: Crab and Avocado Rice Paper Rolls

We have a delicious and quick crab and avocado rice paper roll recipe for you. These rolls are great for summer, and if you have children and teens around, this is a fun way to engage them. 

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar, grated
  • ½ cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 red chili, finely chopped
  • 5oz cooked crab meat
  • 4 rice paper wraps, large
  • ½ cup sprigs of watercress
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced at an angle
  • 1 ripe avocado, cut into thin wedges
  • 1 carrot, chopped into small strips

Directions

  1. Stir sugar, lime juice, cilantro, half the chili, and fish sauce in a bowl. Dissolve all the sugar and set aside.
  2. Toss the crab in the remaining cilantro, chili, and lime juice. Season properly.
  3. Fill a large dish with enough warm water and dip each rice paper for 5 minutes. Remove gently and pat dry.
  4. Lay the rice paper on a cutting board, add 2 tablespoons of crab mixture, and top with cress, onions, avocado, and carrots.
  5. Fold in the sides of the rice paper and roll slowly to enclose everything. Repeat this for the remaining rolls.
  6. Halve the rice paper rolls and serve with a healthy dipping sauce such as peanut sauce.

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FAQs

Is rice paper good for diabetes?

The easiest way to control blood glucose levels is to reduce processed foods because they increase blood sugar levels and cause insulin resistance. Rice paper is low in sugars and fats and makes healthy snacks paired with a diet high in fiber for people with diabetes.

Is rice paper fattening?

No, rice paper is a good source of fiber when eaten with fresh vegetables. It means fewer calories consumed if you keep the fillings healthy and avoid using too many rice noodles in the filling.

Is rice paper good for weight loss?

Rice paper wrappers are a healthier option than high-calorie bread and refined, higher-fat wraps. They are low in carbs and fat and high in fiber, and depending on how you utilize them, they can help you lose weight. To help you lose weight, make sure your rice paper wrap fillings contain veggies and protein.

A Word From Our Nutritionist

When used to wrap nutritious meals, rice sheets are a great addition to a healthy diet since they help you get the nutrients your body needs. Because they are raw, they have no added fat or calories and may be a nutritious and filling snack.

The effect of rice paper on your weight reduction journey is determined by the fillings you choose. Because rice paper is heavy in carbs, it may not be suitable for a keto diet unless used in moderation. Rice paper is a healthy alternative when stuffed with veggies like carrots, bell peppers, or lettuce, as well as healthy protein or low-carb items like vegetarian rice paper rolls. This is not the same as adding fatty meat, sugary sauce, or deep-fried foods, which increase your caloric intake.

Baking is a healthy alternative to deep frying to ensure fewer calories are consumed daily. Always check the ingredients you add to the rice paper wraps and select healthier options. Ensure you stick to light, healthy sauces with no added sugars, such as peanut sauce and healthy fillings, to enjoy rice paper rolls as part of a healthy diet.

Conclusion

Rice paper is an edible translucent sheet made from rice flour from brown rice, salt, and water.

Rice paper rolls are easy to use because they require little or no cooking. Although they are best served fresh, leftover rice paper rolls are still easy to heat up for a quick meal. They are healthy alternatives to wheat-based flour and wraps because they are gluten-free, contain fewer calories, are low in fat, and have no cholesterol.

In addition, they are a good source of protein, are packed with dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and contain no preservatives or additives. They make delicious, nutrient-rich crispy spring rolls when combined with healthy fillings such as veggies and low-fat protein with fewer rice noodles. You can make vegetarian rice paper rolls with tofu, legumes, or plant-based proteins.

To lose weight, combine the rice paper wraps with healthy ingredients and a diet rich in whole foods.

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  • Useful progress tracker and calendar
  • Calorie tracker to track daily caloric intake
  • Over 5,000 nutritious recipes
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HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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