Difference Between Rice and Wheat

Key Difference – Rice vs. Wheat

Although, both rice and wheat belong to the cereal group, wheat (Triticum spp.) and rice (Oryza sativa) have different sensory and nutritional properties and this article explores the key differences between rice and wheat. Cereal is an actual grass primarily cultivated for the edible starch components of its grain. Botanically, this grain is a type of fruit known as a caryopsis, and it contains three parts such as the endosperm, germ, and bran. It belongs to the monocot family Poaceae and is grown in larger quantities and provides more food energy and carbohydrate for the entire world than any other type of crop. Rice and wheat are commonly consumed cereals in the world, and they are considered as staple crops. They are a rich source of macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, oils, and protein) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals) as well as bioactive phytochemicals (polyphenols, flavonoids, anthocyanin, carotenoids, etc.). During refining and polishing process, the nutrients accumulated in the bran and germ will be removed, and the remaining endosperm contains mostly carbohydrate.

What is Rice?

Rice belongs to the grass species Oryza sativa and as a cereal grain; it is the most widely consumed main food for a large part of the world’s human population. It is the agricultural commodity with the third-highest global production, after sugarcane and maize. A large share of rice is grown for human consumption and thus it is the most important grain with regard to human nutrition and caloric intake, providing more than one fifth of the calories consumed worldwide by humans. Rice is cooked by boiling. During cooking water is absorbed. As a staple food, rice plays a significant role in certain religions and popular beliefs.

Difference Between Rice and Wheat

What is Wheat?

Wheat is a cereal grain, and it is the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice. This cereal is cultivated on more land area than any other commercial food crops. Worldwide, wheat is the leading source of protein in the human diet, having a higher protein than other major cereals such as maize or rice. Wheat is a principal food used to produce flour for leavened bread, biscuits, cookies, cakes, breakfast cereal, noodles and pasta, and for fermentation to make beer, other alcoholic beverages and biofuel. The whole wheat grain can be milled to remain just the endosperm for white flour, and the by-products are bran and germ. The wheat grain is a concentrated source of vitamins, minerals, and protein while the refined grain is mostly concentrated in starch.

Key Difference - Rice vs Wheat

What is the difference between Rice and Wheat?

Wheat and rice may have substantially different properties and applications. These differences may include,

Scientific Name:

Rice: Oryza sativa (Asian rice) Or Oryzaglaberrima (African rice)

Wheat: Triticumaestivum


Rice: The varieties of rice are characteristically categorized as long-, medium-, and short-grained rice. The grains of long-grain rice are high in amylose and tend to remain intact after cooking whereas medium-grain rice is high in amylopectin and becomes more sticky. Medium-grain rice is mainly used for the preparation of sweet dishes.

Wheat: Wheat is classified into six groups, and they are hard red winter, hard red spring, soft red winter, durum (hard), hard white, and soft white wheat. The hard wheat is rich in gluten and is used for making bread, rolls and all-purpose flour. The soft wheat is used for making flat bread, cakes, pastries, crackers, muffins, and biscuits.

Extent of Cultivation:

Rice: Rice is cultivated on more than 162.3 million hectares.Rice, wheat, and maize account for 89% of all grain production in the world.

Wheat: Wheat is cultivated on more than 218,000,000 hectares larger than for any other crop.

Production and Consumption Countries:

Rice: The highest consumption and production of rice were recorded in China followed by India (2012).

Wheat: The highest consumption of wheat was recorded in Denmark, but most of this was used for animal feed.The biggest wheat producer in 2010 was the European Union, followed by China, India, USA and Russia.

Parts of the Grain:

Rice: Endosperm, bran and germ

Wheat: Pericarp, aleuronic layer, scutellum, endosperm, bran and germ

Staple Diet:

Rice: Most of the developing countries such as Asian and African consume rice as their staple diets.

Wheat: Wheat is incorporated into the staple diet by the developed Western countries as well as the population in North Africa and the Middle East countries.

Grain Colour:

Rice: Brown, white, black, or red colour rice is most commonly available rice varieties.

Wheat: Red, white or amber colour grain varieties are most commonly available wheat varieties. However, many wheat varieties are reddish-brown due to phenolic complexes present in the bran layer.The yellowish color of durum wheat and semolina flour are mainly due to a carotenoid pigment known as lutein. Ethiopia cultivates a tetraploid species of purple wheat that is rich in anti-oxidants.

Energy Content:

Rice: Contain more energy compared to wheat and considers the largest energy food source in the world

Wheat: Contain less energy compared to rice

Gluten-free Diet:

Rice: Rice is suitable for people on a gluten-free diet.

Wheat: Wheat is not suitable for people on a gluten-free diet.

Starch Content:

Rice: The starch content of rice is around 80% that is lower than wheat

Wheat: The starch content of wheat is around 70%which is lower than rice

Protein Content:

Rice: Contain less protein content (5-10%) compare to wheat

Wheat: Contain more protein content (10-15%) compare to rice

Gluten Content:

Rice: Rice is deficient in gluten protein and cannot be used to produce bakery goods.

Wheat: Wheat contains gluten protein and strong and elastic gluten present in wheat enables bread dough to trap carbon dioxide during leavening. Therefore, wheat flour is a key ingredient in bakery products.

Selenium Content:

Rice: Rice is deficient in the essential mineral selenium

Wheat: Wheat is rich in selenium compare to rice

Genetic Disorders or Allergic Reactions:

Rice: Do not contribute to allergic reactions.

Wheat: Wheat gluten protein can cause allergic reactions for some individuals and also leads to celiac disease. Celiac disease is caused by an adverse immune system reaction to gliadin; a gluten protein originates in wheat.


Rice: Rice grain is mainly used for direct cooking, congee preparation, instant rice, noodles and parboiled rice production. Rice flour and starch are frequently used in batters and breading to improve crispiness.

Wheat: Used for human consumption, food products processing such as bread, biscuits, cookies, cakes, breakfast cereal, pasta, noodles, couscous. Raw wheat can be ground into semolina or germinated and dried to create malt. Wheat also used for fermentation to make beer, other alcoholic beverages, and biogas and biofuel production. It is used for forage crops for domesticated animals like cows and sheep.

In conclusion, both rice and wheat are the world’s more favored staple foods. They are major diets component because of these plant’s agronomic adaptability and offers easiness of grain storage and easiness of converting grain into flour for making edible, palatable, interesting and satisfying foods. Furthermore, wheat and rice are the most important source of carbohydrate and protein in a majority of countries.



Cauvain, Stanley P. and Cauvain P. Cauvain. (2003). Bread Making. CRC Press. p. 540. ISBN 1-85573-553-9.

Belderok, Robert ‘Bob’, Mesdag, Hans, and Donner, Dingena A (2000), Bread-Making Quality of Wheat, Springer, p. 3, ISBN 0-7923-6383-3.

Moon, David (2008). In the Russian Steppes: the Introduction of Russian Wheat on the Great Plains of the UNited States. Journal of Global History, 3: 203–225.

Rice is Life (PDF). Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. 2004.

Juliano, Bienvenido O. (1993). Rice in human nutrition. Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.


Image Courtesy:

1. “Rice grains (IRRI)” by IRRI Images – originally posted to Flickr as IMG_2039-77. [CC BY 2.0] via Commons

2. Wheat Plants By Shree Krishna Dhital (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

  • Sharkmann

    “Rice: The starch content of rice is around 80% that is lower than wheat” Wheat is 70% starch so….is 80% less than 70%? Does anyone proofread anymore?

    • Sharkmann

      Odd, now it reads correctly, I guess I need better glasses and a bit more proofreading.