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is rice safe for parrots?

Can Parrots Eat Rice? (Is Brown Rice Healthier Than White?)

Last Updated on February 27, 2024 by Carrie Stephens

Not all human foods are bird-safe, so you may wonder if parrots can eat rice (Oryza sativa).

All types of rice, including sticky rice, brown rice, jasmine rice, basmati rice, and white rice, are safe.

Brown rice contains more manganese, selenium, magnesium, folate (vitamin B9), fiber, and flavonoid antioxidants than white rice.

Avoid adding salt, oil, and soy sauce when feeding rice to parrots. Instead, add nutritious vegetables, like carrots and bell peppers, for extra color, flavor, and texture.

Benefits of Rice for Parrots

According to Rochester University, the nutrients in one cup of brown rice are: 

Calcium19.5 mg
Iron0.82 mg
Magnesium83.85 mg
Phosphorus161.85 mg
Potassium83.85 mg
Zinc1.23 mg
Copper0.20 mg
Manganese83.85 mg
Selenium19.11 mcg
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)0.28 mg
Folate7.8 mcg
Vitamin B3 (niacin)2.98 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)0.05 mg
Vitamin K1.17 mcg

Better Digestion

White rice contains less fiber than brown rice. The advantage is that white rice is easily digestible, so it’s suitable for parrots who have recently experienced digestive problems like diarrhea.

The inside of the grain is high in soluble fiber, which maintains healthy gut flora in the digestive system. This makes it easier for the body to absorb nutrients, control blood sugar levels, and reduce cholesterol.

The outside of the grain is an excellent source of insoluble fiber. This part of the grain is undigestible, so it maintains its shape, moves digestible foods along, and prevents constipation.

Insoluble fiber also supports this process because it becomes a jelly, adding bulk to the stool.

Weight Control

According to Harvard University, brown rice’s glycemic index (GI) is 68, and white rice’s is 73. Foods with a lower GI release glucose into the bloodstream more steadily.

Because brown rice is higher in fiber, leading to a feeling of fullness. Consequently, some parrots are inclined to eat less food and don’t become overweight.

Disease Protection

The bran layer of brown rice contains flavenoids like apigenin and quercetin. These are compounds that ward off degenerative diseases. All birds should have a diet that comprises whole grains.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants are compounds that fight against oxidative stress linked to disease. Specifically, rice is rich in an antioxidant called phenolics. These are found in the bran of the rice, which is only in brown rice.

If you select a type of rice, brown or wholegrain varieties are recommended for parrots.

Types of Rice

All kinds of rice are healthy for parrots, but anything other than white rice contains more fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Here are the most popular types of rice:

Sticky Rice

Sticky rice (glutinous or sweet rice) is used in Asian cuisines. Sticky rice is often used for desserts, dumplings, rice vinegar, and sake. Sticky rice is cooked and can be fed to a parrot plain.

Jasmine Rice

Jasmine rice is a long-grain rice. It’s softer, fluffier, and more fragrant than standard rice when cooked. However, jasmine rice contains about the same nutrients as white rice.

Basmati Rice

Basmati rice is similar to jasmine rice. Although it’s shorter than jasmine, basmati is a long-grain variety. Like jasmine, basmati rice is known for its aroma and flavor and is similar in nutrients.

However, basmati rice is drier and fluffier, unlike jasmine rice, which clumps when cooked. This makes it a better choice for parrots who like picking out individual grains and crunching the seeds.

White vs. Brown Rice

The difference between white and brown rice goes way beyond color.

Provide brown rice if you want the healthiest option for a parrot. Brown rice contains all the parts of the grain, unlike white rice, which has removed the bran and germ.

Brown rice is healthier because the grain is kept intact. According to Nutrient Research Reviews, whole grains contain more antioxidants.

Brown rice still has compounds that can harm parrots, including:

  • Antinutrients: These hinder a parrot’s ability to absorb nutrients.
  • Arsenic: According to Epidemiology, brown rice can contain more arsenic than white rice.

White rice cooks faster due to the absence of the bran and germ.

Fried Rice

Fried rice contains unhealthy ingredients that compromise the health of parrots, including:

Oil

Oil is necessary to make fried rice crispy and textured, but most oils are unhealthy. Too many calories lead to weight gain and health problems like heart disease.

Salt

Parrots need some dietary sodium, but not too much. Excess salt has been linked to many health problems, including high blood pressure (hypertension), which increases the risk of strokes.

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce isn’t bad for parrots unless they’re allergic to soy. Unfortunately, commercial soy sauce contains high amounts of sodium for added flavor.

A tablespoon of soy sauce contains 920 mg of salt. Even low-sodium sauces still contain 190 mg.

Rice Cakes

Rice cakes are low-fat, relatively healthy treats for parrots. They can make a crunchy, low-calorie snack for reinforcing training. They can also be added in small amounts to a parrot’s meal.

Some rice cakes are healthier than others, so opt for low-sodium and unsweetened rice cakes. Never feed a bird a chocolate-coated rice cake because it contains theobromine, which is highly toxic.

Plain rice – cooked or raw – is still better than rice cakes. Rice cakes contain less fiber, and the grains are broken down and contain fewer antioxidants, some of which are lost during cooking.

How To Feed Rice To Parrots

If you give a parrot rice raw, sprinkle some over its meals to add crunch and variety. Add delicious, colorful vegetables like bell peppers and carrots for carotenoids.

We often cook rice with salt and flavorings, which is bad for pet birds. Instead, keep rice as bland as possible when preparing it for parrots. Never add oils, salt, or sauces.