Risotto – Nutrition, Health Benefits, Side Effects & Recipes

Gunjan Sooden

July 14, 2022

Risotto is a creamy Italian dish with a great flavour like the rice variety of mac and cheese. However, unlike other rice recipes that require stewing in a pot of water, risotto is cooked gradually by adding medium quantities of water at a time. This cycle allows the rice to provide its starches, making a rich, smooth sauce delicate with firm grains.

The Italian region of Arborio is home to the super fine rice type, which has greater levels of amylopectin starch. Risotto can be a side dish, but when vegetables or seafood are added, it is frequently eaten as a full dinner.

The secret to preparing an ideal texture is warming the stock quite early. Coldwater makes the dish take more time to cook and can make the starches form lumps. Most risotto recipes additionally include margarine and cheese. All that smoothness comes from simply taking out the rice’s starch molecules, so added dairy isn’t that much necessary.

Risotto – An Introduction

This is rice made with Arborio, a rice variety from the Arborio region of Italy, and is known to contain higher levels of amylopectin starch. 

Risotto rice takes on a smooth, creamy texture when cooked slowly with stock due to the release of the amylopectin starch. The next step is to remove the risotto from the heat. Then, the starch begins to form as it cools, affecting the creamy smoothness endeavoured to make. Risotto is usually served as a side dish and a full dinner when seafood or vegetables are incorporated.

Varieties of Risotto

There are various ways of making risotto. An essential recipe with chicken stock, parmesan cheese, and white wine can be a flavorful side dish for food varieties like fish, poultry, or meat. One can add healthy ingredients to make it a complete meal and add mushrooms, lobster, peas, shrimp, squash, peppers, spinach, and ham.

Nutritional Properties of Risotto

According to USDA,100g of risotto contains the following nutritional properties:

  • Energy: 356 kcal
  • Protein: 8.89g
  • Fat: 2.22g
  • Carbohydrate: 75.6g
  • Fibre: 2.2g
  • Calcium: 44 mg
  • Sodium: 22 mg

Nutrition Facts

Risotto rice has a lot of calories and carbohydrates, almost entirely starch. However, there is only one gram of sugar in it.

Risotto is not a substantial source of protein unless it contains steak, seafood, or protein-rich veggies. Insufficient protein in the diet can lead to long-term changes in body composition, such as muscle loss.

The glycemic index values of risotto are unknown. However, according to research, boiled risotto rice has a glycemic index of 69. While high glycemic foods have a glycemic index of 70 or higher are quickly digested and absorbed, creating a rapid spike in blood sugar, which can raise your risk of heart disease and mortality.

Risotto lacks essential vitamins and minerals. However, feta cheese, butter, and crème (if added) can provide calcium. The calcium content of 1-cup of risotto made with cheese, butter and cream is around 44 mg.

Micronutrient content increases when paired with other vegetables or fruits. The mushrooms, asparagus, and peas in the Creamy Spring Vegetable Risotto dish, for example, serve to add to the 4mg (22% of the recommended value) of iron provided by each serving.

The HealthifyMe Note

Risotto contains carbohydrates, but some dishes may also be high in saturated fat due to the use of cheese and butter in the preparation. It may also include a lot of sodium. However, incorporating greens and lean protein into risotto helps to make it more nutritionally balanced.

Health Benefits of Risotto

The principal ingredient in risotto is rice. Any significant health benefit from eating plain risotto comes from the healthy benefit of rice. A few studies show that a rice-based diet might give specific advantages. But most of those reviews have been directed in Asia, where rice is usually not combined with food types like cream or cheese. However, here are some of the benefits that risotto offers.

May Help Boost Bone Health

The calcium in cream and parmesan might give specific bone-medical advantages and provide something like 8% of the everyday amount based on how much dairy one adds to the dish. Based on studies, calcium supports the joining and complex nature of the two bones and teeth. However, plain risotto does not offer enough calcium.

Keeps up with Brain Health

Eating enough carbs is vital for cerebrum function since glucose is its primary energy source. The body separates carbs into glucose to be utilised immediately or kept for use after some time. According to studies, the right amount of glucose usage can reduce and prevent irritation. In addition, it can prevent mental deficiencies, particularly in older people. The USDA recommends that grown-ups consume 45% to 65% of their complete calories from starches.

May Fight Cell Damage

Some well-known risotto ingredients like mushrooms, artichokes, dim salad greens, and squash contain cancer prevention agents. These agents fight cell harm caused by oxidative pressure that happens when the body is prone to free radicals. The body produces free radicals, which are also present in the climate. Oxidative stress includes conditions like a malignant growth, cardiovascular infections, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and specific eye disease. 

According to a study, eating food sources that contain cancer prevention agents might assist in reducing the degree of harm.

Boosts Immunity

Risotto can keep you fit and prevent diseases. According to research, it helps protect body tissues, helps the body function regularly, and restores health by stimulating the synthesis of enzymes and hormones. Controlling digestive processes also aids in the movement of nutrients from the digestive system to other body parts.

Enhance Digestion

Risotto has an adequate amount of fibre that aids in the proper functioning of the digestive tract and regulates bowel function. It also helps treat common digestive issues such as constipation and diarrhoea.

The HealthifyMe Note

Although arborio or risotto rice has fewer vitamins and minerals than whole grains, they deliver rapid energy to the body when converted to glucose. The ideal amount is to help you gain muscle, boost immunity, improve digestion, and maintain mental and overall health.

Best Ways to Use Risotto

Risotto recipes come in a range of flavours and preparations. Risotto with roasted pumpkin and spinach, arancini prepared using risotto leftovers, and creamy baked rice with risotto. Paella, similar to risotto, rice pudding is produced by cooking spices and milk along with Arborio rice, chicken and asparagus risotto. Using risotto, you can also prepare many more dishes such as soups, poached eggs, beans, salad, and mushroom curries.

Healthy Recipes Using Risotto

Mushroom Risotto

Serves: 6-8 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

1 cup: 100 ml/g


  • Mushroom Broth: 1 quart
  • Unsalted butter: 4 tbsp
  • Sliced mushrooms: 1 cup
  • Vegetable oil: 1 tbsp
  • Chopped onion: ½ cup
  • Arborio rice: 1½ cup
  • White wine: ½ cup
  • Parmesan cheese: ¼ cup
  • Chopped Italian parsley: 1 tbsp
  • Salt to taste

Method of Preparation

  • Gather the ingredients. Heat the stock to a stew in a medium pot, then, at that point, lower the flame to keep the stock hot. 
  • Dissolve one tablespoon of the margarine in a sauté dish and sauté the cut mushrooms until they’re soft. Now, please turn off the flame and keep it aside. 
  • In a vast, heavy-lined pot, heat the oil and one tablespoon of the margarine over medium flame. 
  • At the point when the spread has softened, add the onion. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes or until it is somewhat transparent. 
  • Add the rice to the pot and mix it with a wooden spoon to cover the grains with the oil and dissolve the margarine. 
  • Sauté for one more moment until there is a medium nutty smell; however, don’t allow the rice to become brown. 
  • Add the wine and cook while mixing until the water is completely absorbed. Next, add a spoon of hot stock to the rice until the water is thoroughly mixed. 
  • Add one more spoon of stock whenever the rice looks dry and repeat the cycle.
  • Keep adding spoons of hot stock and mixing the rice while the water is absorbed. As it cooks, one will see that the rice will form a smooth consistency as it delivers its regular starches. 
  • Add stock, a spoon at once, for 30 minutes or until the grains are soft and firm to the ends, without being crunchy.
  • One can use water in case the stock is over.
  • Add the water similar to the stock, a scoop at a time, stirring while it’s absorbed. Mix in the excess two tablespoons of margarine, the Parmesan cheese, and the parsley and season to taste with the right amount of salt.

Long-grain Rice Chicken Risotto

Serves: 6-8 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

1 cup: 100 ml/g


  • Skinless chicken breasts: 4 (boneless)
  • Salt: ½ tsp
  • Pepper: ⅛ tsp
  • Olive oil: 3 tbsp
  • Chopped onion: 1 medium
  • Minced garlic: 3 cloves
  • Long-grain rice: 2 cups
  • Chicken broth: 4-6 cups
  • Dried basil: 1 tsp
  • Grated parmesan cheese: 1 cup
  • Butter: 2 tbsp

Method of Preparation

  • Gather the ingredients.
  • Cut the chicken breasts into 1 ½ inch pieces and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • In a heavy pan, heat the olive oil over medium flame. Add the onion and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes until soft, stirring regularly.
  • Then add the chicken parts to the pan, and cook and mix until the chicken starts to brown for around 3 minutes.
  • Add the rice, and mix to cover. Cook for 2 minutes over medium flame, stirring continually.
  • Add 1 cup of chicken stock to the pan, and cook until water is absorbed, mixing continually.
  • Add the chicken stock to keep the rice soaked in water, mixing often. Ensure the rice consumes a large amount of water before adding more. Total cooking time must be around 25 minutes, or until the rice is soft.
  • Add the basil, cheese, and margarine to the pan not long before serving, mixing to melt.
  • Cover the pot and let it stay for five minutes, turn off the flame, and then serve immediately.
  1. Spicy Risotto with Red Pepper 

Serves: 4-5 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

1 cup: 100 ml


  • Diced onion: 1 medium
  • Sliced onion: 3
  • Diced red bell pepper: 1
  • Minced garlic: 3 cloves
  • Olive oil: 1 tbsp
  • Arborio rice: 1⅓ cup
  • Cayenne pepper: ¼ tsp
  • Red pepper flakes: ½ tsp
  • Vegetable broth: 2½ cup
  • White wine: ⅔ cup
  • Salt: As per taste
  • Ground black pepper: As per taste

Method of Preparation

  • Sauté the onion, green onions, Chime pepper and garlic in olive oil until soft, for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • While vegetables are cooking, start to warm vegetable stock over a medium-low flame in a pan.
  • Add rice to the container with the vegetables and cook for some time.
  • Add red pepper and cayenne, mixing gradually.
  • Start to add vegetable stock, 1/2 cup at a time. Mix, and hold on until most of the water gets absorbed before adding more. Keep adding the vegetable stock, and afterwards, the white wine 1/2 cup at a time.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese or vegetarian cheese whenever needed.

Potential Adverse Effects of Risotto

A few ingredients in risotto might cause a hypersensitive reaction. Lactose intolerant people or those hypersensitive to dairy must select a risotto recipe cautiously. Most recipes include dairy and a few recipes for veggie lovers with no dairy. 

Since reports of rice sensitivity in grown-ups are common, anyone can have it. One distributed research study shows how hypersensitive reactions to rice can emerge in patients with peach intolerance.

In youngsters, rice can be a trigger for a sensitivity called food protein-initiated enterocolitis disorder (FPIES). Side effects of FPIES can include hives, diarrhoea, and dehydration. Severe cases can cause a drop in energy, fever, and low circulation, causing hospitalisation. Based on a study, most kids develop it by age 3 or 4.

For many people, eating risotto isn’t probably going to cause substantial unfavourable impacts. However, if the dish contains a high amount of sodium, one might develop swelling. USDA indicates that packed cheese might contain 1193mg of sodium or more. According to studies, the Food and Drug Administration suggests that grown-ups eat under 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily.

Storage and Food Safety

You can store arborio rice for a year in an airtight container and a cool, dry area like a storeroom. However, some experts recommend refrigerating opened packs for up to six months.

Cooked rice can remain fresh for 4-6 days when kept in the refrigerator, and one can also freeze prepared rice for a half year.

Parmesan cheese will remain fresh for as long as a year when kept in the fridge. However, different ingredients in risotto may not stay fresh for that long. The period of usage of chicken or vegetable stock varies accordingly. Also, new stock is prone to remain fresh for around seven days when kept in the refrigerator. So, whenever you consume risotto, ensure you do it fresh or store it in the fridge.


Risotto is a creamy rice dish made with a sort of rice called Arborio. This superfine rice variety belongs to the Arborio district of Italy and contains amylopectin starch. Risotto is primarily a side dish. However, you can also consume it as a complete meal by adding other foods like fish or vegetables.

Risotto is cooked gradually with stock (usually chicken or vegetable stock), allowing the amylopectin starch to bring to its desired consistency. Accordingly, the rice takes on a smooth, velvety texture. Different ingredients, for example, parmesan cheese, shallots, margarine, and white wine, are typically added.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. How healthy is risotto?

A. Risotto is a creamy dish. The essential carbs in refined Arborio rice truly have fewer nutrients and minerals than all grains. However, they provide energy to the body when carbs convert into glucose. Besides, fish risotto has solid omega-3 unsaturated fats, decreasing inflammation and improving cardiovascular health.

Q. Is risotto healthier than regular rice?

A. One cup of arborio rice can provide just 170 calories. Arborio rice, harvested in Italy, is filled with goodness and nutrients. It may be somewhat starchier than other long-grain white rice.  However, it isn’t that high in carbs and is healthier than regular rice.

Q. Does risotto make you fat?

A. Risotto is velvety and creamy. However, that doesn’t mean it’s unhealthy. Risotto, prepared with stock and different ingredients, has loads of starch and can also have a ton of essential fat and sodium. If you consume it in moderation, it will not make you fat. However, eating it daily without any physical movement can cause an accumulation of fat.

Q. What nutrients are in risotto?

A. Risotto is a food packed with various nutrients due to its ability to include multiple ingredients like stock, rice, vegetables, spices, seafood, peas, and many more. The nutrients in risotto are calories, sodium, carbohydrates, fibre, sugar and protein.

Q. Is risotto anti-inflammatory?

A. All grains contain many anti-inflammatory compounds, B vitamins, protein and fibre. As risotto includes the main ingredient, rice, it also has some anti-inflammatory properties and various health benefits that help individuals maintain good health. However, its health benefits depend on the recipe and other ingredients used to prepare it.

Q. Does risotto have cholesterol?

A. A basic serving of risotto contains almost 8 grams of saturated fat. The most significant advantage of the expression “Risotto” is 100 g cheese risotto which has about 20 mg of cholesterol. No studies say that the cholesterol from risotto causes any artery blockage.

Q. Is risotto a good carb?

A. One cup of arborio or risotto rice has roughly 100 to 110 grams of carbohydrates. The carbos mainly come from starch. Starch can be healthy or unhealthy, depending on its processing. However, the starch in risotto is usually healthy if you consume it in moderation.

Q. Is risotto good for your heart?

A. Moderate risotto consumption does not lead to any significant harm. However, risotto also does not offer any significant cardiovascular benefits.

Q. Is risotto good for energy?

A. Arborio rice is generally carbs, which gives energy. Hence, consuming arborio or risotto rice in moderation can energise you. In addition, the carbs from risotto help provide body energy, strength, and balance.

About the Author

Gunjan Sooden graduated from Delhi University with a degree in nutrition and dietetics. She is passionate about helping people understand the value of healthy eating, cooking, and food & nutrition in their fitness journey. Eating healthy, she believes, should not be boring. With experience as an intern in the food sector, she is best at exploring and producing recipes using local, day-to-day ingredients. This generation differs from the previous one. We need to figure out quick ways to make our regular meals healthier and more delicious. Because this is our current way of life, we must balance being busy while still being able to eat healthily, right?

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