Which one is healthier, potato vs rice? Here’s the short answer:
- Overall, potatoes are better for nutrient. They have higher percentages of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Potatoes also contain less calorie, carbohydrates, and fats.
- Potato contains higher amounts of fiber, vitamin B, magnesium, phosphate, potassium, iron, copper, and calcium than white rice. These nutritional substances help maintain cardiovascular health, digestion, and immunity system.
- Potato contains vitamin A, beta carotene and vitamin C, which you can’t get from white rice.
- White rice has the upper hand on several nutrients (fat, vitamin B5, and zinc). But potato doesn’t trail that far behind because it contains the same nutrients, only in a smaller amounts.
- Potato has a higher glycemic index than white rice. Although this is by no means an indicator of bad food. High glycemic food can still be a part of a balanced diet if appropriately maintained.
Potato vs Rice Nutrition Chart – Full Comparisons
Nutritional values on this page are based on the data from U.S. Department of Agriculture’s FoodData Central. The values might varied when compared to other sources.
Below is the full comparison of the nutritional values between potato and white rice:1
Just in case the image above doesn’t load, you can see the comparisons in the table below. I’ll discuss their in-depth differences according to the Reference Dietary Intake (RDI) in the last section.
|WHITE RICE |
|Calories||95 kcal||130 kcal|
|Carbohydrates||21.4 grams||28.7 grams|
|Fats||0.2 grams||0.3 grams|
|Protein||2.63 grams||2.36 grams|
|Dietary fiber||2.3 grams||0.4 grams|
|Vitamin A||3.33 IU||–|
|Beta carotene||6 micrograms||–|
|Vitamin B1||0.04 milligrams||0.02 milligrams|
|Vitamin B2||0.04 milligrams||0.01 milligrams|
|Vitamin B3||1.53 milligrams||0.4 milligrams|
|Vitamin B5||0.38 milligrams||0.41 milligrams|
|Vitamin B6||0.35 milligrams||0.05 milligrams|
|Vitamin B9||38 micrograms||2 micrograms|
|Vitamin C||12.6 milligrams||–|
|Magnesium||30 milligrams||8 milligrams|
|Phosphate||71 milligrams||33 milligrams|
|Potassium||550 milligrams||26 milligrams|
|Iron||1.07 milligrams||1.46 milligrams|
|Copper||0.107 milligrams||0.07 milligrams|
|Calcium||18 milligrams||1 milligrams|
|Zinc||0.35 milligrams||0.4 milligrams|
|Glycemic Index||73 – 111||72|
From many indicators, potato is nutritionally healthier than rice.
So, should we all ditch white rice and eat potatoes instead?
Well, it’s not that simple.
Rice, especially white rice, has been my staple food all my life. I suspect I might not be alone. Rice is the primary source of carbohydrates for 90% of Asia’s population and 60% of the world’s population.2
As an Asian, I have to admit that we’re too addicted to rice. Take my following story for an example.
In my home country (which is world-famous for its Bali Island), we have some strange notion about rice: Consuming a meal counts as “eating” ONLY if we eat it with rice.
Eating other sources of carbohydrates? We’d call it “snacking,” not eating.
It doesn’t stop there, as some Asian people take it even further: They claim their stomach won’t feel full as long as they haven’t eaten rice. It doesn’t matter if they’ve just had a whole truckload of other foods, they’d still feel hungry for rice.
After studying to become a dietitian, I learned about various sources of carbohydrates. Potato is one of them — a staple choice for carbohydrates in western cuisine. Yet, my people’s rice-addicted mindset makes the habit of eating potatoes never take hold.
Apart from the cultural aspect of eating rice, most agricultural settings in Asia revolve around planting rice as their primary produce. Rice has been around human civilizations for too long – some estimates since 8000 BC.
It’s unthinkable to quickly convert all those rice-filled field for planting other crops. It’d take some enormous orchestrated efforts from governments if they want their people to shift from white rice to potato.
Yes, potato is healthier than rice, but it’s unlikely that people will cease their rice-eating habit anytime soon.
Speaking in my capacity as a Registered Dietitian in Gizigo, no need to force yourself if you don’t want to stop eating rice. Both white rice and potato are good sources of carbohydrates.
Potato comes with higher amounts of fibers and lower calories than white rice, which would prove beneficial if you were doing a weight-loss diet. It also contain more dietary fiber, which could help controlling your appetite.3
Whether you choose potatoes or white rice is entirely up to you and your preference. Keep your meals simple, as you still need to consider your other nutrients. If you need some comparison for your protein, you can check which is healthier between goat meat and chicken meat.
Potato vs Rice in Details
The Reference Dietary Intake percentages on this page are calculated based on the data provided by U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guideline for Americans.4
White rice contains 36.8% more calories.
In terms of calories, white rice offers more calories than potatoes for the same amount of weight. Per 100 grams, potato only contains 95 kcal (3.96% of Reference Dietary Intake) while white rice has more calorie of 130 kcal (5.42% of RDI).1
These weight-to-calorie comparisons matter a lot for some people. We use calories to measure the energy our bodies need to do activities.
The individual energy requirement will be different depending on our gender, age, weight, height, activity factor, and stress factor. For example, many people in my home country work as blue-collar workers. White rice is much preferable for them, as it provides them with more energy for their manual labor.
The calorie intake ideally has to match our body’s needs. Excessive calorie intake will turn into fats and increase the risk of obesity and other non-communicable diseases.5
White rice contains 34.1% more carbohydrates.
Potatoes have a lower amount of carbohydrates than white rice. For every 100 grams, potato only contains 21,4 grams of carbohydrates (5.94% of RDI), while white rice contains 28,7 grams of carbohydrates (7.97% of RDI).1
Carbohydrate is the primary energy source of the human body. Our organs, especially our brain, are very dependent on carbohydrate availability. So it’s not surprising that the recommended carbohydrate intake is around 45-65% of our total daily calories.6
What happens if we consume carbohydrates below the recommended amount?
Our body will break the protein within our muscles down. Our liver will break the stored fat into ketones for energy. This protein breakdown is called ketosis and usually occurs within 3-4 days after limiting the carbs intake. It’s followed by a subsequent effect called keto flu with symptoms such as nausea, lack of energy, and headache.7
White rice contains 50% more fats.
Per 100 grams, potato has 0.2 grams of fats (0.30% of RDI) while white rice contains 0.3 grams of fats (0.45% of RDI).1
Fats inside adipose tissue store the energy for our bodies. It also functions as padding or protection for our organs, regulates our body temperature, forms cell membranes, and makes valuable substances such as hormones, bile fluid, and vitamin D.
Excessive fats bring about obesity, which increases the risk of non-communicable diseases.3
On the other hand, insufficient fats intake results in skin rashes, hair loss, decreased immunity, and the deficiency of fat-soluble vitamins.
Potato contains 28.6% more protein.
In term of protein, potato has a slight advantage compared to white rice. Per 100 grams, potato contains 2.63 grams of protein (2.92% of RDI), while white rice has 2.36 grams of protein (7.97% of RDI).1
Protein is the building block of our muscles. It also produces metabolism enzymes, transports other nutrients, helps manufacture our hormones, and maintains the electrolyte balance inside our body.
Protein deficiency can cause stunt growth in children, slow brain development, decrease kidney function, and impair immunity system. 3
Dietary Fiber Comparison
Potato contains 475% more dietary fiber.
Potato simply contains a lot more dietary fiber than white rice. For every 100 grams, potato has 2.3 grams of dietary fiber (6.76% of RDI), while white rice only contains 0.4 grams (1.18% of RDI).1
In general, dietary fiber helps digestion, increases our insulin sensitivity, slows nutrient absorption in the stomach, prevents inflammation and cardiovascular diseases, and promotes the growth of good bacterial flora in our digestion system.8
Potato contains vitamin A. Assumed zero amount of vitamin A in white rice.
Potato contains beta carotene. Assumed zero amount of beta carotene in white rice.
Potato contains 100% more vitamin B1.
Potato contains 400% more vitamin B2.
Potato contains 282,5% more vitamin B3.
Potato contains 608% more vitamin B6.
Potato contains 1800% more vitamin B9.
Potato contains vitamin C, white rice doesn’t.
White rice contains 7.9% more vitamin B5.
Once again, potato is nutritionally better than white rice, except for its slightly smaller amount of vitamin B5.
Below is the table for vitamin comparisons between potato and white rice.1
|VITAMINS||POTATO* (RDI)||WHITE RICE** (RDI)|
|Vitamin A||3.33 IU (0.37%)||Assumed zero|
|Beta Carotene||6 micrograms||Assumed zero|
|Vitamin B1||0.04 milligrams (3.3%)||0.02 milligrams (1.67%)|
|Vitamin B2||0.04 milligrams (3.08%)||0.01 milligrams (0.77%)|
|Vitamin B3||1.53 milligrams (9.56%)||0.4 milligrams (2.5%)|
|Vitamin B5||0.38 milligrams (7.6%)||0.41 milligrams (8.2%)|
|Vitamin B6||0.354 milligrams (27.23%)||0.05 milligrams (3.85%)|
|Vitamin B9||38 micrograms (9.5%)||2 micrograms (0.5%)|
|Vitamin C||12.6 milligrams (14%)||Assumed zero|
*Potato, Russet, baked
**White rice, cooked
Being fat-soluble, vitamin A in potatoes helps in gene expression, eyesight, cell division, immunity system, and body growth and development. A deficiency in vitamin A causes night blindness (nyctalopia).
Vitamin B helps as a coenzyme in energy production. Lack of vitamin B causes beriberi disease with symptoms such as numbness at the palm of hands and feet, decreased muscular strength, paralysis, and irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). Vitamin B12 deficiency also causes immature red blood cells, which leads to macrocytic anemia.5
Potato contains 275% more magnesium.
Potato contains 115.1% more phosphate.
Potato contains 2015.4% more potassium.
Potato contains 52,9% more copper.
Potato contains 1700% more calcium.
White rice contains 36.4% more iron.
White rice contains 14.3% more zinc.
Potatoes are the clear winner. It contains more minerals by a long shot when compared to white rice.
Below is the table for mineral comparison between potato and white rice.1
|MINERALS||POTATO* (RDI)||WHITE RICE** (RDI)|
|Magnesium||30 mlligrams (7.50%)||8 milligrams (2.00%)|
|Phosphate||71 milligrams (10.14%)||33 milligrams (4.71%)|
|Potassium||550 milligrams (16.18%)||26 milligrams (0.76%)|
|Iron||1.07 milligrams (13.38%)||1.46 milligrams (18.25%)|
|Copper||0.107 milligrams (11.89%)||0.07 milligrams (7.78%)|
|Calcium||18 milligrams (1.80%)||1 milligrams (0.10%)|
|Zinc||0.35 milligrams (3.18%)||0.4 milligrams (3.64%)|
*Potato, Russet, baked
**White rice, cooked
Magnesium supports various enzymes and cell functions, helps muscle relaxation, and strengthens the immunity systems. A deficiency in magnesium causes vomiting, diarrhea, and malnutrition.
Phosphate helps in bone and teeth formation, in DNA and RNA production, and in regulating blood pH. Phosphate deficiency is rarely found as it’s readily available in most foods.
Potassium balances our body’s electrolyte, liquid, and cell integrity. It also functions as a neurotransmitter and helps in muscle contraction. The symptoms of potassium deficiency are kidney stones, increased blood pressure, and turnover in our bones’ potassium deposit. Medicines with a diuretic, steroid, or laxative substance increase the risk of potassium deficiency.5
Glycemic Index Comparison
Interestingly, the glycemic index for potatoes changes depending on their processing. On the other hand, white rice has a constant glycemic index value of 72.
GI levels in each ingredients are different. Even the same ingredient can have several different GI value depending on these factors:
- The processing. Rice that has been milled and removed from its epidermis has a higher GI value than rice that is only processed as minimally as possible.
- The physical form. Finely ground grains are easier to digest than coarsely ground grains. Easier-to-digest foods have higher GI values and more easily increase blood glucose levels.
- The dietary fiber. High-fiber foods tend to be more difficult to digest and do not easily raise blood glucose levels, so the GI value is lower.
- The ripeness level. Ripe fruits and vegetables tend to have a higher GI.
- The fats and acidic content. Food ingredients with a high fat and acidic content will take longer to convert into glucose, so it is not easy to increase glucose in the blood.9
Below is the table for different kinds of potato’s glycemic index according to their cooking process.5
|Roasted potatoes||111 (high)|
|Instant mashed potatoes||87 (high)|
|Boiled potatoes||82 (high)|
|French fries||73 (high)|
|White rice||72 (high)|
All of them have high values of glycemic index. What does it mean?
The glycemic index serves as an indicator of how quickly a particular food increases our blood glucose level. Foods with higher glycemic index release blood glucose more rapidly. But it doesn’t mean that potato is a “bad” food just because it has a high glycemic index value.
For example, when a Type 1 Diabetic person gets too low on the blood glucose level, quickly consuming a high glycemic food might help them stay alive and avoid severe injuries. As with most foods, you can consume food with a high glycemic index in a healthy and balanced diet.
- FoodData Central. USDA. Accessed January 14, 2023. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/index.html
- Chaudhari, P. R., Tamrakar, N., Singh, L., Tandon, A., & Sharma, D. (2018). Rice nutritional and medicinal properties: A review article. Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry, 7(2), 150-156.
- Kanter, Mitch (2018). “High-Quality Carbohydrates and Physical Performance.” Nutrition Today 53.1 (2018):36. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5794245/
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020.
- DeBruyne, L. K., Pinna, K., & Whitney, E. N. (2015). Nutrition and diet therapy. Boston: Cengage Learning.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Accessed January 16, 2023. https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/previous-dietary-guidelines/2015
- Blackburn, Kellie Bramlet. “What you need to know about the ketogenic diet”. MD Anderson Cancer Center. Accessed January 16, 2023. https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-ketogenic-diet.h20-1592202.html
- Barber, T. M., Kabisch, S., Pfeiffer, A. F., & Weickert, M. O. (2020). The health benefits of dietary fibre. Nutrients, 12(10), 3209.
- Carbohydrates and Blood Sugar. (2013, August 5). In Harvard School of Public Health. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/carbohydrates-and-blood-sugar/
- Foster-Powell, K. “International tables of glycemic index and glycemic load values.” Diabetes Care 31 (2008): 2281-2283. https://doi.org/10.2337/dc08-1239