White rice, a food staple in most Southeast Asian countries particularly the Philippines, increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by 10% in the overall population. In fact, a recent finding has shown that a bowl of starchy white rice has more than twice the carbohydrate content of a can of soft drinks.
In a study carried out by Harvard researchers, it was found that consuming less white rice could make a big difference. Although the researchers weren’t able to pinpoint why white rice influences diabetes risk, it is believed that its high glycemic index (GI), measurement of how foods influence blood sugar levels, is the culprit. Previously, high GI ranking foods have been linked to increased risk of diabetes.
Aside from the heightened diabetes risk, it was also found that white rice lacks fiber and magnesium.
“People with high white rice consumption lack these beneficial nutrients and Asian populations consume a lot of white rice,” study author Qi Sun said.
The researchers noted that white rice isn’t the only thing to blame for increased diabetes risk.
“It is white rice plus aspects of modern living — including less physical work — that conspire to elevate the incidence of Type 2 diabetes,” Dr. David Katz of Yale University told ABC News.
Replacing White Rice with Brown Rice
It won’t be easy for Asians, who had been hooked on white rice for most of their lives, to just give up their staple diet. This is why it is recommended that you replace 20% of your white rice with brown rice to cut the risk of diabetes by 16%.
It is suggested that you soak the brown rice in water for at least 15 minutes before cooking with white rice.
Professor Qi Sun of Harvard School of Public Health also revealed that brown rice can provide fiber and magnesium, nutrients which are not found in white rice.