Is yellow rice good for your diet?

As a nutrition-conscious eater, you may be wondering if yellow rice is a healthy addition to your diet or if you should avoid it. Yellow rice is rice that has been cooked in turmeric, annatto, saffron, or other spices and seasonings to give it a yellow or golden color. Here’s a quick look at the pros and cons of adding yellow rice to your regular rotation.

Pros of Yellow Rice

There are some potential benefits to eating yellow rice in moderation as part of a balanced diet:

  • More fiber – Since whole grain brown rice is often used to make yellow rice, it may provide more fiber than white rice varieties.
  • More antioxidants – The turmeric, annatto and other spices used to create the yellow color contain antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation.
  • Enhanced flavor – For many, the spices make yellow rice more aromatic and flavorful than plain white rice.
  • Versatility – Yellow rice can be served as a side dish, used in rice bowls and other one-dish meals, added to soups and stews, stuffed into vegetables, and more.

Cons of Yellow Rice

There are also some potential downsides to keep in mind:

  • Higher sodium – Pre-made yellow rice mixes and boxed versions tend to be high in added sodium. Make it from scratch to control sodium levels.
  • Limited nutrients – Even though it contains more fiber than white rice, yellow rice is still relatively low in nutrients compared to other whole grains.
  • Arsenic concerns – Rice products may contain small amounts of arsenic, and some studies show turmeric may increase arsenic absorption.
  • Allergies – Yellow rice may trigger food allergies or sensitivities to ingredients like turmeric, annatto, or other spice mixes.

Yellow Rice Nutrition Facts

The specific nutrition content of yellow rice can vary significantly based on the ingredients used to create the yellow color. Here is the nutrition information for 1 cup cooked yellow rice made from brown rice and turmeric:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 216
Protein 4.5g
Carbohydrates 44.4g
Fiber 2.6g
Sugar 0.9g
Fat 1.8g
Sodium 13.5mg

As you can see, brown rice yellowed with turmeric provides a good amount of carbohydrates and fiber, as well as a little bit of protein. It is relatively low in fat, sugar, and sodium compared to white rice.

Health Benefits of Yellow Rice

Here is more detail on some of the potential wellness benefits associated with the ingredients commonly used to make yellow rice:


Turmeric is a bright yellow spice that comes from the turmeric plant. It contains curcumin, a polyphenol with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Research indicates turmeric may:

  • Reduce inflammation related to arthritis, digestive disorders, heart disease, obesity, and other conditions
  • Improve cholesterol levels
  • Support brain health and cognition
  • Have anticancer effects against certain types of tumors

The anti-inflammatory benefits come from curcumin, which is the main active compound in turmeric. Consuming turmeric along with black pepper may help increase curcumin absorption.


Annatto is a reddish-orange condiment derived from the seeds of the achiote tree. It provides the yellow or orange color in many Latin cuisine dishes. Annatto contains carotenoids like beta-carotene, which have antioxidant properties. Some research shows annatto may:

  • Have antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory effects
  • Reduce the risk of certain cancers
  • Lower blood sugar in people with diabetes

However, most annatto health research has been conducted in animal or lab studies rather than human clinical trials. More research is needed to confirm its potential benefits.


Saffron is a spice derived from the Crocus sativus flower. It has a distinct color and flavor due to its active compounds, including crocin and crocetin. Studies indicate saffron may:

  • Improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression
  • Enhance memory and cognitive function
  • Have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects
  • Reduce PMS symptoms

Saffron is generally used in very small amounts, so eating yellow rice made with saffron likely won’t provide significant health benefits. But it can add a burst of flavor and color.

Downsides of Yellow Rice

While yellow rice has some nutritious ingredients, there are a few potential downsides to keep in mind:

Limited Nutrients

Compared to other whole grains like quinoa, barley, and farro, yellow rice is relatively low in nutrients. It provides carbohydrates and a small amount of fiber, but minimal protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Arsenic Concerns

Rice can take up trace amounts of arsenic from soil and water as it grows. Some studies show that turmeric may slightly increase arsenic absorption from rice. However, the amounts are very small and shouldn’t be cause for concern in moderation.

High Sodium Products

Many pre-made yellow rice products and seasoning mixes are high in added sodium. To limit sodium, make homemade yellow rice using lower sodium ingredients or reduce any salt that is added.


Yellow rice may trigger allergic reactions in people with sensitivities to turmeric, annatto, saffron, or other ingredients used to color the rice. Allergies are uncommon but something to be aware of.

Is Yellow Rice gluten-free?

Plain yellow rice made from gluten-free grains like brown rice, white rice, jasmine rice, or basmati rice is naturally gluten-free. However, some pre-made rice mixes may contain gluten-based ingredients or traces of gluten from cross-contamination during processing. Check labels carefully if avoiding gluten.

Is Yellow Rice Keto?

Yellow rice is not keto-friendly, since rice is a high-carb grain. A 1 cup serving contains over 40 grams of digestible carbs, which is too high for a ketogenic diet. Cauliflower rice or rutabaga rice may be used instead on keto.

Is Yellow Rice Whole 30 Approved?

Yellow rice made from white rice is not Whole30 approved, since white rice is not allowed. However, yellow rice made from brown rice could potentially be Whole30 compliant if it meets the diet’s criteria. Always check ingredients for additives and preservatives.

How to Make Yellow Rice

It’s easy to make flavorful yellow rice at home. Here are a few simple methods:

Turmeric Rice

To make turmeric yellow rice, cook brown or white rice as normal with chicken or vegetable broth instead of water. Stir in 1/2 to 1 teaspoon turmeric powder at the end to achieve a yellow hue.

Annatto Rice

For annatto rice, soak 1-2 tablespoons of annatto seeds in 1/4 cup oil or water. Cook rice as normal, then stir in the soaked annatto. The color will tint the rice yellow-orange.

Saffron Rice

To make saffron rice, briefly soak saffron threads in warm water or broth to release the color and flavor. Cook rice as desired then stir in the saffron water. A little goes a long way since saffron is intensely pigmented and aromatic.

Curry Rice

For yellow curry rice, cook rice in coconut milk instead of water or broth. Season with curry powder, turmeric, garlic, ginger, onions, salt and pepper. Top with sautéed veggies for a complete meal.

Popular Yellow Rice Dishes

Here are a few delicious ways to enjoy yellow rice as part of a meal:

  • Arroz Con Pollo – Yellow rice served with chicken, tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, oregano, and other Latin spices.
  • Coconut Curry Rice – Yellow rice infused with Thai yellow curry spices and coconut milk for creaminess.
  • Turmeric Rice Bowls – Nutrient-packed bowls with yellow turmeric rice, roasted vegetables, chickpeas, avocado, and yogurt sauce.
  • Jambalaya – A rice dish that combines yellow rice with Cajun flavors like smoked sausage, shrimp, chicken, onions, and bell peppers.
  • Mujadarra – Middle Eastern dish of yellow rice and lentils seasoned with onions, olive oil, spices, and fried onions as garnish.

The flavorful seasonings and ingredients paired with the yellow rice make for delicious, well-rounded meals.

Is Yellow Rice Healthy?

Yellow rice can be a healthier option than white rice due to the fiber from brown rice varieties and antioxidants from spices like turmeric. But it should still be enjoyed in moderation as part of an overall balanced diet. To maximize nutrition:

  • Use brown or wild rice instead of white.
  • Flavor rice with turmeric, annatto, saffron, or curry.
  • Avoid pre-made mixes high in sodium.
  • Pair with lean proteins and veggies.
  • Watch portions and enjoy as part of a diet low in processed carbs.

While yellow rice is higher in some vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants compared to plain white rice, it does not provide the full nutritional profile of mixed whole grains and vegetables. Eat it alongside other healthy foods to balance your diet.

Is Yellow Rice Safe During Pregnancy?

Yellow rice made from whole grains and spices like turmeric is generally recognized as safe to eat during pregnancy. In fact, the fiber, vitamins, minerals, and anti-inflammatory compounds may provide some benefits. However, it is always smart to check with your doctor about any dietary concerns or restrictions when pregnant.

Some tips for eating yellow rice while pregnant:

  • Enjoy in moderation as part of a balanced prenatal diet.
  • Choose low-sodium versions to limit excess salt intake.
  • Combine with lean proteins and vegetables for a well-rounded meal.
  • Avoid raw sprouted rice due to risk of food poisoning.
  • Reheat all leftover rice thoroughly before eating.

Practice food safety handling and cook rice to proper temperatures to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses.


Yellow rice can be a nutritious side dish when enjoyed in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet. The spices used to create the yellow color add flavor and may provide some antioxidant benefits. Select whole grain brown rice varieties over white rice whenever possible. Pair yellow rice dishes with lean proteins, vegetables, and healthy fats.

While yellow rice is higher in some nutrients than white rice, it is still relatively high in refined carbohydrates. Portion sizes should be monitored and paired with more nutrient-dense foods for balanced nutrition. Those following low-carb, keto, or paleo diets may want to further limit intake.

Overall, yellow rice can offer a flavorful alternative to basic white rice that provides some additional health bonuses. But it should still be just one part of an eating pattern focused on a variety of whole foods.

Leave a Comment