By Alyssa “T.I.” Soluren, Contributing Writer

Got rice? This is an unfamiliar phrase heard of in Asian households. Rice is a signature Asian food, and Asians eat it with just about every meal. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 92 percent of the world’s rice is produced in Asia, while 90 percent of the world’s rice fields are located in Asia.

With this statistic, it is not hard to understand why rice is an important food staple for Asian countries.In addition, rice has some important nutritional value. Rice is sodium-, cholesterol- and gluten-free, contains no trans or saturated fat and has vitamins and minerals, including folic acid, iron, zinc and some B-vitamins. Different types and varieties of rice are grown every year. Listed below is a brief overview of the various rice types.  Long grain. Long-grain rice has long slender kernels three to four times longer than its width. It is light and fluffy. This type of rice remains more separate than bunched up when cooked. Medium grain. Medium-grain rice is similar to long-grain rice, but is a little shorter than long-grain rice. Unlike long-grain rice, medium-grain rice has a kernel two to three times wider. When cooked, medium-grain rice clings together more easily than long-grain rice and is usually more moist and tender. Short grain. Short-grain rice differs from both medium and long-grain rice because of the kernel. Short-grain rice has a round kernel. Additionally, cooked short-grain rice tends to cling together like medium-grain rice and is soft and chewy. Brown rice. Brown rice has the outer hull removed, and retains its color from the bran. Brown rice is a 100 percent whole-grain food and contains many more nutrients than white rice.White rice. White rice is made by removing the outer husk and milling the layer of bran until the grain is white. The U.S. enriches white rice after it has been milled.Sweet. Sweet rice is a type of short-grain rice that loses its shape and becomes very sticky when cooked.Aromatic. Aromatic rice has a higher concentrated aroma of roasted nuts or popcorn. Jasmine rice is a popular aromatic rice. All rice has some type of aroma; however, aromatic rice is known to have higher concentrations in the aromatic varieties.

Arborio. Arborio rice is a medium, round grained rice that is grown in Arborio, Italy. Arborio grains are known for their tan color and white dot at the center of the grain. Arborio rice is creamy, chewy and can absorb many different flavors. The most common type of arborio rice is risotto.

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