If you enjoy warm breakfast cereals like me, you may wonder what the difference is between cream of rice and cream of wheat. Which is the healthiest breakfast option? Are they whole grains or gluten-free? Let’s dive into all this and more!
Key Differences Cream of Rice vs Cream of Wheat
The main difference between Cream of Rice vs Cream of Wheat is Cream is the main ingredient. Cream of Wheat is made from wheat, while Cream of Rice is made from rice.
Cream of Rice is gluten-free and a refined grain. Cream of Wheat contains gluten and may or may not be a whole grain, depending on the variety you buy.
They also have different textures but share a similar nutritional profile enriched with several vitamins and minerals.
What is Cream of Rice?
Cream of Rice is a hot cereal made from finely ground white rice mixed with water or another liquid such as milk. While “Cream of Rice” is a brand name, it has also become a common household name for any hot cereal made from rice and another liquid.
Cream of Rice cereal is a popular breakfast porridge, commonly served with a sweetener such as sugar or honey; honey would be the healthiest option. It may also be eaten as a side dish for any meal or added to casseroles or soups- as it’s just ground white rice and a liquid.
Just as rice is a staple in many Asian cultures, Cream of Rice is pretty similar to the dish congee, a rice porridge made from rice mixture that is simmered until it is thick with a creamy texture, much like Cream of Rice.
Cream of Rice is gluten-free as rice is gluten-free. If you have celiac disease or are on a gluten-free diet, Cream of Rice is the only option of the two, as Cream of Wheat contains gluten.
Nutritional Value Cream of Rice
Cream of Rice is made from white rice. White rice is a refined grain stripped of much of its natural nutritional value during the refining process. It is then fortified with vitamins and minerals to make it more nutritious. It contains several b vitamins and other vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, vitamin D, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, and folic acid with about 2 grams of protein. Cream of Rice is an excellent source of iron, containing a whopping 12.6 mg of iron, which is 70% of the recommended daily value.
It is high in carbohydrates, with about 35 grams of carbohydrates, making it popular among bodybuilders and some athletes as it provides quick energy. However, because it is high in carbohydrates and a refined grain, it is also high on the glycemic index. White rice is a medium to high glycemic index food, so it is not the best option for anyone at risk of diabetes or those susceptible to blood sugar issues.
Equally important in making your breakfast porridge healthy is what you mix it with. Avoid adding sugar or artificial sweeteners, and stick with natural sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, dates, or fresh fruit.
What is Cream of Wheat?
Cream of Wheat is a type of porridge made by the same company as Cream of Rice and is another type of hot cereal, but it is made using wheat rather than rice.
Cream of Wheat, or a variation of it, is a popular breakfast food in many households in North America. It is made from cooked wheat kernels mixed with a liquid such as water or milk. Cream of Wheat is a brand of farina, which is a type of porridge. They both contain the same main ingredient, wheat. While Cream of Wheat has more fine consistency than traditional farina does, they are essentially referring to the same type of porridge, which is wheat porridge.
The brand Cream of Wheat has different flavors and varieties, such as maple brown sugar, cocoa nut with almonds, banana walnut, and more. The regular Cream of Wheat and many of the flavors are made with wheat farina, which is a refined gain in which the bran and germ are stripped away, like white bread. A whole grain variety is available labeled “whole grain.”
Like Cream of Rice, it is typically served hot as a breakfast cereal but may also be used in dishes such as soups and casseroles or eaten as a side dish at any meal.
Nutritional Value Cream of Wheat
Cream of Wheat is a refined grain; depending on the variety, one cooked cup of Cream of Wheat contains about 110 calories with 24 grams of carbohydrates and 4 grams of protein per serving.
There is not a big difference overall in nutritional value between Cream of Wheat and Cream of Rice. Because Cream of Wheat is a refined grain, it will also have a higher glycemic index rating and is not the best option if you have any blood sugar issues. The whole grain variety is the healthiest option of them all. However, it is still highly processed and likely not the best choice if you have diabetes, as even though it’s whole grain, the processing it goes through to make it an “instant” also makes it a higher glycemic index food.
Cream of Wheat contains reasonable amounts of iron, vitamin D, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 and folate. It’s important to note these nutrients are fortified and not naturally occurring vitamins and minerals that you would find in less processed food.
Building Muscle Mass
Many athletes and bodybuilders turn to Cream of Rice and Cream of Wheat as what they think is a good option for carbs and protein to build lean muscle mass. However, the best choice for health is always minimally processed, clean foods that are as close to their natural state as possible, even if you are looking to build muscle mass.
Oats and quinoa are a better choice, as they both are higher in carbohydrates and protein than Cream of Wheat or Cream of Rice. They are also whole grain foods. Like any food, always read labels and look for varieties without added sugars or unnecessary additives.
Cream of Wheat contains gluten and may or may not be a whole grain, depending on the variety you buy. The important distinctions between Cream of Rice and Cream of Wheat are that Cream of Rice is made from rice and water. Cream of Wheat is made from wheat and water. Cream of Rice is gluten-free and a refined grain.
However, neither is really a good choice if you are looking for a healthy breakfast, cereal, or porridge. Whole grain oats or quinoa are much healthier food options for you as they are minimally processed and gluten-free with naturally occurring vitamins and minerals and lots of dietary fiber. Whole grains are also the best option for supporting weight loss. If you have blood sugar concerns, quinoa is your best option as it is the lowest on the glycemic index.
If you do want to choose between the Cream of Wheat products and Cream of Rice, the better option is the whole grain variety of Cream of Wheat and then adding in your own natural sweeteners and fresh fruit.
Karla Kueber is a Certified Evidence Based EFT Practioner and Health Coach, with a double Masters Degree in Education. She works with people to overcome emotional eating, curb cravings, and overcome resistance to eating new healthy foods. You can learn more about finding freedom with food here.