News / Health

Eating White Rice Increases Diabetes Risk

While eating brown rice could reduce it

Harvard researchers found that white rice consumption increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes while brown rice consumption actually reduces the risk.
Harvard researchers found that white rice consumption increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes while brown rice consumption actually reduces the risk.

Multimedia

Audio
Smitha Raghunathan

Reducing your risk of diabetes may be as simple as having a bowl of brown rice instead of white.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health have just released a study showing that white rice consumption increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes while brown rice consumption actually reduces the risk.

Rice is one of the world's most abundant food crops. The success of this grain can be attributed to the availability of both manpower for planting and harvesting, as well as plentiful rainfall in the regions where it's grown. White rice has become especially prevalent because of its long shelf life. Since it is such an important part of diets around the world, researchers like Qi Sun are now looking at its relationship to chronic disease.

"More and more I realize that actually chronic disease prevention is very important and also that diet is one of the most important risk factors for chronic diseases," says Sun.

Sun is the lead author of a new report from the Harvard School of Public Health. His study shows that a diet high in white rice is associated with an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, a serious health condition in which the body is unable to properly use sugar in the bloodstream.

Study participants included more than 39,000 men and 157,000 women. They were asked about their diet and lifestyle habits as well as any pre-existing diseases. The researchers found that participants who ate five or more servings of white rice per week had a 17 percent increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. In contrast, those who ate two or more servings of brown rice per week had an 11 percent reduced risk.

Brown rice is the naturally occurring form of the grain. Refining it involves removing the outer layers, including the husk, bran and germ, leaving the inner white kernel. The end product is then often enriched, to replace a portion of the nutrients lost during the refining process. However, white rice is essentially a starch.

Sun explains that the loss of the fiber-rich outer layer allows starch to be absorbed more quickly into the body.

"The outer layers will slow down the penetration of digestive enzyme into the starch part so that the release of the sugar into the bloodstream will be slow for brown rice in comparison with white rice."

While the exact reasons are unknown, a diet of foods that quickly release sugar into the bloodstream is associated with a greater risk of Type 2 diabetes. This makes the selection of food such as brown rice important in preventing this disease.

In addition to this major benefit, Sun points out that less refined grains tend to have more nutritional benefits than their refined counterparts. In fact, he says replacing rice with whole grains such as whole wheat and barley could result in a 36 percent lower chance of developing Type 2 diabetes.

"I think our current research for rice is consistent with the overall picture in that whenever possible it is reasonable to recommend people to replace refined carbohydrates, including white rice, white bread, added sugar, with whole grains."

Brown rice spoils more quickly than white rice making it an unsuitable commodity for poor or remote communities.
Brown rice spoils more quickly than white rice making it an unsuitable commodity for poor or remote communities.

Unfortunately, brown rice is more perishable than white rice. Because of the oil-rich bran layer, it spoils quickly if not refrigerated or stored in vacuum-sealed bags. That makes it an unsuitable commodity for poor or remote communities.

To address this issue, the International Rice Research Institute, or IRRI, is working in collaboration with the Food Futures Flagship at the Commonwealth of Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Australia, towards developing varieties of white rice whose starch is released slowly. IRRI researcher Melissa Fitzgerald says finding the genes which control starch release is just the first step toward creating a grain that people will accept as part of their diet.

"And so once we understand the genetics, we can try and just take those particular genes and work with popular varieties of rice to cross those particular genes into a popular variety and still maintain the expected cooking and eating qualities of the grain," she says.

With new studies finding increasingly strong links between diabetes and cardiovascular disease and even certain types of cancers, research to improve this dietary staple has taken on a new urgency.

You May Like

US Firms Concerned About China's New Cyber Regulations

New rules would require technology companies doing business in financial sector to hand over their source code, adopt Chinese encryption algorithms More

WHO Focus on Ebola Shifts to Ending Outbreak

Focus to be less on building facilities and more on efforts to find infected people, manage their cases, engage with communities and ensure proper burials More

US Scientist Who Conceived of Groundbreaking Laser Technology Dies

Charles Townes, Nobel laureate, laser co-creator paved way for other scientific discoveries: CDs, eye surgery, metal cutters to name a few technologies that rely on lasers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid