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

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

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