4 Healthy and Cheaper Alternative to Rice

Rice is a staple in most Asian countries. Don’t get me wrong, I love rice paired with my favorite adobo and sinigang. However, rice (white rice in particular) may not be appropriate in everyone’s diet especially to those diagnosed with diabetes.

For people thinking of quitting rice or want variety in their diet, here are 4 options to substitute to rice as source of carbohydrates. They are not just healthy, they are also relatively cheaper than rice and readily available not only in supermarkets but also in public markets.

1. Corn

Zea mays L. or we simply know as corn or maize belongs to Poaceae family. Yes. They belong to true grasses family. It takes 3-5 months before harvest. They are sold in the market as seeds, green corn (before physiological maturity, those corn ears sold as boiled in the market), grated (often used in soups) and grits (can be cooked and consumed like rice).


A cup of boiled rice has around 200 calories while a cup of boiled corn has around 170 calories. Although rice has higher calorie content, boiled corn is of great advantage in terms of protein, fat, vitamins A, beta-carotene, E, K, C, B1, B2, B3, B4, B5, B6 and B9. There is also higher mineral content in corn primarily Magnesium, Phosphorus and Potassium. Corn grits are long known staple in some parts of Visayas and Mindanao regions (no wonder why most Filipino boxers come from these areas).

Price: PhP 25-30/2pcs for boiled white corn; PhP 20-30/pc for boiled sweet corn; PhP 20-30 per ~250g; PhP 37-40/kg for corn grits;

2. Cassava

Cassava or Manihot esculenta Crantz can thrive to adverse conditions like drought and acidic soils. Harvesting can be done 7 to 10 months after planting. Fresh roots are not usually stored for too long as they can easily form bluish streak, they are usually sold per kilogram in the market.


Cassava roots have a wide range of use such as food, feed and other industrial purposes. Boiled cassava root weighing 100 grams contains 112 calories coming mainly from carbs and small amount of protein and fat. Cassava also provides fiber and few vitamins and minerals. The root of cassava is gluten-free and is good for those people suffering from coeliac disease (gluten intolerance). Do not get alarmed by news of intoxication from cassava because hydrocyanic acid (toxic component of cassava) is highly volatile and can be removed easily through proper processing. There are also varieties with very low hydrocyanic acid available in the market. Make sure to look for Lakan and Rajah varieties.

Price: PhP 12-15/kg fresh root

3. Sweet potato

White potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) and sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas L.) are from two different family, Solanaceae and Convolvulaceae, respectively. Starch of potatoes is stored in stems while in sweet potato it is formed in the root. The modified roots  are the commonly consumed plant part of sweet potatoes while others eat the leaves and stalks as vegetables. The roots are usually ready for harvest 3-4 months after planting.


The root flesh can be orange, white, pink, violet or purple in color. It is rich in fiber, antioxidant and other nutrients. They can be eaten boiled, baked, steamed, or fried. Sweet potatoes have medium to high glycemic index which is unsuitable for diabetic people. A medium-sized sweet potato contains 27grams of carbs. It is a poor source of protein but an excellent food in terms of beta carotene, vitamin C and potassium.

Price: PhP 40/kg fresh roots

4. Saba banana

Banana is a general term for a number of species or hybrids under the genus Musa under the family Musaceae. Saba banana is a triploid hybreed of the seeded bananas Musa balbisiana and Musa acuminata. It is mainly utilized in cooking in the Philippines and other South Asian nations.


Bananas are high in fiber but low in calorie. Consuming high amounts of fiber is linked to reduced risk of heart disease and some cancers. Saba banana has roughly 120 calories per fruit. They are composed of starchy carbohydrates and contain no fat or cholesterol. They also contain a rich blend of nutrients and vitamins such as B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin A and iron.

Price: PhP 1-2/fruit

*price is based on the price in out market and can vary depending on location