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Are Quaker Rice Cakes Bad For You?



Short answer

Plain, lightly salted Quaker Rice Cakes are low in calories and may be a decent snack option for those managing weight. However, with high glycemic index scores, they can rapidly increase blood sugar levels, making them less suitable for individuals with diabetes or those seeking stable energy levels. Though made with whole-grain brown rice, they're low in protein and fiber. Flavored varieties contain added sugars and salt, potentially impacting health negatively if consumed excessively. While they can fit into a balanced diet when paired with nutrient-rich foods, they should not replace more nutrient-dense options.



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Long answer

Nutritional Profile of Quaker Rice Cakes

Understanding the nutritional makeup of Quaker Rice Cakes is crucial to assessing their health implications. Each variety may have different ingredients and flavors, which can affect the nutrient content. Here, we’ll focus on the plain, lightly salted variety as a baseline for our analysis, providing insights into its macros and micronutrients.

  • Calories: Rice cakes are known for being low in calories, which can make them an attractive option for people looking to manage their weight. One plain Quaker Rice Cake contains approximately 35 calories.
  • Carbohydrates: They are primarily composed of carbohydrates, with one cake typically providing around 7 grams. The majority of these carbs come from whole grain brown rice, making them a source of complex carbs. However, it's essential to note the lack of significant dietary fiber content, with less than 1 gram per cake.
  • Proteins: Rice cakes offer a minimal amount of protein, generally having about 1 gram per cake. This makes them a poor protein source on their own, which could be a crucial consideration for those using them as a meal replacement.
  • Fats: They are low in fat, with typically less than 0.5 grams per rice cake. However, some flavored varieties may include added fats to enhance taste and texture.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Unflavored Quaker Rice Cakes contain insignificant amounts of vitamins and minerals. However, rice cakes equipped with added nutrients, such as fortified varieties, may offer more in this regard.
  • Sodium: A lightly salted rice cake can contain around 15 mg of sodium. It’s a relatively low amount but can accumulate if multiple cakes are consumed in one sitting.
  • Glycemic Index (GI): Products made from brown rice often have a lower GI compared to white rice. However, the process of making rice cakes can increase their GI. The glycemic index of rice cakes can be high, indicating that they might cause a quicker spike in blood sugar levels compared to other whole grains.

When considering their place in your diet, compare these nutritional aspects to your specific dietary needs. For example, those with higher protein requirements or who are managing blood sugar levels might need to complement rice cakes with other foods to create a more balanced meal or snack. Understanding your unique nutritional needs can help determine if incorporating Quaker Rice Cakes into your diet aligns with your health goals.

Moreover, it's important to consider portion sizes and frequency of consumption. While one rice cake may have a seemingly innocuous nutritional profile, eating multiple rice cakes in one sitting can quickly increase your intake of carbohydrates and sodium, possibly affecting blood sugar and overall caloric intake.

It’s also valuable to reference expert opinions and studies on the subject. For instance, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has published research on the glycemic index of foods, which can be a useful resource for understanding how rice cakes might impact blood sugar levels. Meanwhile, dietary guidelines provided by health organizations can assist in figuring out how to fit rice cakes into a well-rounded diet.

Always remember, the nutritional value of rice cakes can be significantly altered by toppings. The addition of high-fat, high-sugar, or high-sodium toppings can transform a simple rice cake into a much less healthy snack option.

Glycemic Index Concerns and Blood Sugar Impact

When evaluating whether Quaker Rice Cakes might be bad for you, it's essential to consider their glycemic index (GI) and the impact they can have on blood sugar levels. The glycemic index is a valuable measure that ranks how quickly foods with carbohydrates raise glucose levels in the blood after eating. Foods with a high GI tend to cause a rapid spike in blood sugar, followed by a swift drop, which can lead to increased hunger and could be detrimental to those managing diabetes or looking to maintain stable energy levels.

Rice cakes are typically made from puffed white rice and have a high glycemic index score of approximately 82 according to the International Tables of Glycemic Index. This places them in the high GI category, which might raise concerns for individuals who are sensitive to fluctuations in their blood sugar levels. Regular consumption of high-GI foods has been linked with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

However, the impact of rice cakes on an individual's blood sugar can vary based on several factors, including:

  • The presence of other macronutrients during consumption: Combining rice cakes with foods that contain protein, healthy fats, or fiber can help reduce the overall glycemic effect.
  • Portion size: Consuming a small number of rice cakes is less likely to significantly disrupt blood sugar levels compared to larger portions.
  • Individual glycemic response: Some people may experience more pronounced changes in blood sugar levels than others after consuming high-GI foods.

It's also important to note that Quaker Rice Cakes come in various flavors and formulations. Some are plain, which is primarily reflective of the GI value mentioned, while others may be coated with sweeteners or additional ingredients that can further affect their glycemic impact.

For those concerned about blood sugar management, it is advisable to consume rice cakes in moderation and to pair them with a balanced diet rich in low-GI foods. By doing so, they can mitigate the potential negative effects of the high glycemic index of rice cakes on their blood sugar levels. Consulting with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian can provide personalized advice, especially for individuals with pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes. Furthermore, dietary balance and ensuring a variety of nutrient sources is vital in promoting overall health and wellness.

While some might find rice cakes to be a convenient, low-calorie snack, it's crucial to weigh these benefits against the potential drawbacks related to the food's glycemic index and its impact on blood sugar when making dietary choices. As with many food items, context and individual dietary needs are key factors in determining their place in a healthy eating plan.

Ongoing research and expert opinions continue to inform our understanding of the glycemic index and its relevance to overall health, and it is critical to incorporate this evolving information when advising on dietary choices. For a detailed examination and expert dietary advice, reference the American Diabetes Association or consult an endocrinologist or dietician who can offer insights on the relationship between food, blood sugar levels, and individual health needs.

Additives and Flavorings in Quaker Rice Cakes

The simplicity of rice cakes may suggest that they're a straightforward, healthy snack option. However, it's not just puffed rice that you're getting in each bite. Many Quaker Rice Cakes include a variety of additives and flavorings aimed at enhancing taste, texture, and shelf-life. Understanding these ingredients can help you determine if they align with your dietary goals or if they raise potential health concerns.

Common Additives Found in Flavored Varieties:

  • Salt/Sodium: Most flavored rice cakes contain added salt to enhance taste. While sodium is essential for bodily functions, excess intake can lead to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular issues.
  • Sugars: Sweet varieties may have added sugars, contributing to the overall calorie count and, if consumed in excess, increasing the risk of dental caries, weight gain, and blood sugar spikes.
  • Artificial flavors: To mimic certain tastes, artificial flavors are often added. While approved for consumption, some consumers may be sensitive to these compounds or prefer to avoid them for clean eating.
  • Preservatives: Ingredients like butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are sometimes used to prolong shelf-life. BHT has been the subject of debate regarding its safety and potential effects on health.

In-Depth Look at Specific Additives:

Additive Function Potential Health Impacts
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) Flavor enhancer While the FDA classifies MSG as generally safe, some individuals may experience headaches, sweating, or sensation of pressure after consumption, often referred to as 'MSG symptom complex'.
Artificial Sweeteners (e.g., Aspartame) Sweetening without added calories Controversial studies link long-term consumption to metabolic disturbances and neurological effects, though approved for use and considered safe at low levels.
Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein Flavor booster Often used to provide a savory, umami taste, it contains glutamates, and while considered safe, it can cause similar reactions in MSG-sensitive individuals.

While some additive-free options are available within the product line, the inclusion of these additives and flavorings is more common in the pre-flavored varieties. Quaker Rice Cakes' flavors such as caramel or apple cinnamon are more likely to contain a higher amount of additives. For those with allergies, sensitivities, or strict dietary preferences, consuming the plain, unflavored rice cakes may be more suitable to avoid unwanted ingredients.

Expert dietitians suggest that while occasional consumption of these flavored rice cakes is unlikely to cause harm to the average person, being mindful of the additives and choosing simpler, whole-food snacks can offer more nutritional benefits. For instance, a rice cake topped with a slice of avocado will not only provide healthy fats but also eliminate the intake of unnecessary additives.

Considering consumer concerns, scientists continue to assess the safety of food additives, and several organizations, including the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization, establish guidelines to ensure additives are within safe limits.

When selecting any processed snack, including flavored rice cakes, it's crucial to read the ingredient list carefully. Remember that the order of ingredients reflects the quantity present, with those listed first in the highest amounts. Staying informed helps consumers make choices that suit their individual health needs and preferences.

Whole Grain Content and Its Health Implications

Quaker Rice Cakes are often touted for their whole grain content, which has significant health implications that are worth examining. Whole grains, unlike refined grains, retain the nutrient-rich bran and germ, and evidence points to various health benefits associated with their consumption. Let's explore the whole grain content of Quaker Rice Cakes and how it translates into health outcomes.

Whole Grain Composition: Quaker Rice Cakes are made primarily from whole-grain brown rice. This is an advantage because whole grains are a source of essential nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, which work synergistically to improve health.

  • Dietary Fiber: A critical benefit of whole grains is dietary fiber. Fiber aids digestion, helps maintain blood sugar levels, and can lower cholesterol, among other benefits. Rice cakes can contribute to your daily fiber intake but in modest amounts. For instance, a single brown rice cake might contain about 1 gram of dietary fiber, or roughly 4% of an adult's daily recommended intake.
  • B Vitamins: Whole grains are a natural source of B vitamins which play a role in converting our food into energy. They include thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate.
  • Minerals: The presence of minerals such as magnesium, iron, and selenium in whole grains like brown rice provide structural and functional support for the body. Iron is especially crucial for the transportation of oxygen in the blood.
  • Antioxidants: Whole grains can offer antioxidants that combat oxidative stress and reduce inflammation—contributors to chronic diseases.

Health Outcomes: Regular consumption of whole grains is linked with several positive health outcomes. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, whole grains are inversely associated with the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer (1).

Health Benefit Associated Nutrient Effect
Improved Digestive Health Dietary Fiber Promotes regular bowel movements and can aid in preventing constipation.
Weight Management Dietary Fiber Increases satiety, which can help reduce overall caloric intake.
Blood Sugar Control Magnesium Plays a role in carbohydrate metabolism and insulin action.
Cardiovascular Health Antioxidants and Fiber May lower the risk of heart disease by affecting blood lipid levels.

It is important to note, however, that while Quaker Rice Cakes contain whole grains, their compact nature means they may not provide as much fiber and other nutrients as more dense whole grain foods like cooked brown rice or quinoa. Furthermore, the texture and processing could affect the satiety one might experience after consuming them compared to other whole-grain options.

To maximize the benefits of whole grains in your diet, experts recommend diversifying your sources. This could include incorporating whole grains like oats, barley, and whole wheat, alongside brown rice products such as rice cakes.

When considering the health implications of Quaker Rice Cakes, it's crucial to look at them within the broader context of your diet. While they do provide the benefits of whole grain consumption, they should be part of a balanced and varied diet that includes multiple sources of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats.

A proper understanding of the whole grain content in Quaker Rice Cakes and how it aligns with your dietary needs can empower you to make informed decisions about their place in your diet.


(1) Reynolds, A., Mann, J., Cummings, J., Winter, N., Mete, E., & Te Morenga, L. (2019). Carbohydrate quality and human health: a series of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. The Lancet, 393(10170), 434–445. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31809-9

Rice Cakes as Part of a Balanced Diet

When it comes to integrating rice cakes into a balanced diet, it's crucial to consider the broader nutritional canvas. Rice cakes, including those from Quaker, can be a part of a healthy eating plan if consumed mindfully and in appropriate portions. Known for their low-calorie content, rice cakes are often selected as a weight management tool, as they can satisfy the crunch many of us crave without a significant calorie load.

However, the benefits and drawbacks of including rice cakes in your diet hinge on several factors:

  • Whole Grain vs. Refined: Whole grain rice cakes contain more fiber and nutrients compared to those made with white rice. It's important to opt for whole grain options to enhance satiety and nutritional value.
  • Portion Sizes: While rice cakes are low in calories, overconsumption can lead to unnecessary caloric intake and limited satiety due to their low-protein and low-fiber content.
  • Glycemic Index: Rice cakes typically have a high glycemic index (GI), which means they can cause a quick rise in blood sugar levels. This is a consideration especially for individuals managing blood sugar concerns, such as those with diabetes.
  • Nutritional Pairings: Pairing a rice cake with protein or healthy fats can balance the meal, providing more sustained energy and better satiety. For example, topping a rice cake with almond butter and banana slices adds protein, healthy fats, and additional vitamins and minerals.
  • Variety: A balanced diet thrives on variety. While rice cakes can be included, it's also important to eat a diverse range of foods to ensure you're getting a wide spectrum of nutrients.
  • Snack vs. Meal Replacement: Rice cakes are more appropriate as a light snack rather than a meal replacement due to their limited nutritional offerings. When used as a snack, it's beneficial to complement them with nutrient-rich toppings.

Let's look at a comparison table that highlights the potential benefits and limitations of incorporating rice cakes into a balanced diet:

Rice Cake Benefits Considerations and Limitations
Low-calorie snack option May not provide long-lasting satiety
Can help manage portion sizes High glycemic index can spike blood sugar levels
Gluten-free (suitable for those with celiac disease) Some flavored varieties contain added sugars and artificial ingredients
Whole grain versions have added fiber Often lacks essential vitamins and minerals
Convenience and versatility in meal planning Need to pair with other foods to achieve a balanced macronutrient profile

It's imperative to be judicious when choosing rice cake varieties. For instance, some rice cakes may contain added sugars, artificial flavors, or excess salt, which detract from their health benefits. Checking the ingredient list and nutrition facts label for low-sugar, whole-grain options is a significant step toward making rice cakes a healthier choice within your dietary pattern.

Experts suggest that pairing rice cakes with other nutritious foods is key. According to a study in the "Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism," a snack that combines carbohydrates with protein can more effectively control appetite and reduce subsequent food intake compared to a carbohydrate-only snack, such as plain rice cakes.

In essence, rice cakes, when selected carefully and combined strategically with other wholesome foods, can indeed find their place within a balanced diet. They are not inherently "bad" for you, but they are also not a nutrient-dense food source. Conscious consumption and informed choices will dictate their impact on your overall dietary quality and health.

Frequently asked questions

Quaker Rice Cakes can serve as a low-calorie snack which might be helpful as part of a calorie-controlled diet for weight loss. However, they lack significant protein and fiber, which are important for satiety. For optimal weight management, it's best to pair rice cakes with nutrient-rich toppings like avocado, hummus, or cottage cheese to enhance fullness and prevent overeating.

Some flavored Quaker Rice Cakes may contain preservatives like butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), which has been debated for its safety and potential health effects. If trying to avoid preservatives, look for the plain, unflavored rice cakes or those labeled as 'preservative-free', and regularly review ingredient lists for the most current information.

While diabetics can include Quaker Rice Cakes in their diet, they should be cautious due to the high glycemic index, which can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels. It’s recommended to enjoy rice cakes in moderation, paired with foods high in fiber, protein, or healthy fats to buffer the glycemic response, and to consult with a healthcare provider for individualized recommendations.

Plain Quaker Rice Cakes are generally free from common allergens and are gluten-free, making them suitable for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities. However, flavored varieties might contain additives or other ingredients that could trigger allergies in sensitive individuals. Always check the label for specific allergen information.

Ask a question about Quaker Rice Cakes and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • blood sugar spike
  • increased hunger
  • potential msg symptom complex

Possible long-term side effects

  • risk of type 2 diabetes
  • cardiovascular disease
  • metabolic disturbances
  • neurological effects

Ingredients to be aware of


  • low in calories
  • whole grain nutrition
  • fiber intake
  • dietary versatility

Healthier alternatives

  • whole grains like oats, barley, whole wheat
  • brown rice
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • lean proteins
  • healthy fats

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Lundberg Rice Cakes

  • Organic whole grain
  • Lightly salted
  • Healthy snack option
  • Gluten-free
  • Vegan-friendly
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 02-27-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 02-27-2024

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