Stephanie Burns – The risk of type 2 diabetes is significantly increased if white rice is eaten regularly, claims a study published today on bmj.com.
The authors from the Harvard School of Public Health look at previous studies and evidence of the association between eating white rice and the risk of type 2 diabetes. Their study seeks to determine whether this risk is dependent on the amount of rice consumed and if the association is stronger for the Asian population, who tend to eat more white rice than the Western world.
The authors analysed the results of four studies: two in Asian countries (China and Japan) and two in Western countries (USA and Australia). All participants were diabetes free at study baseline.
White rice is the predominant type of rice eaten worldwide and has high GI values. High GI diets are associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The average amount of rice eaten varies widely between Western and Asian countries, with the Chinese population eating an average of four portions a day while those in the Western world eat less than five portions a week.
A significant trend was found in both Asian and Western countries with a stronger association found amongst women than men. The results also show that the more white rice eaten, the higher the risk of type 2 diabetes: the authors estimate that the risk of type 2 diabetes is increased by 10% with each increased serving of white rice (assuming 158g per serving).
White rice has a lower content of nutrients than brown rice including fibre, magnesium and vitamins, some of which are associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. The authors report, therefore, that a high consumption of white rice may lead to increased risk because of the low intake of these nutrients.
In conclusion, the authors state that “higher white rice intake is associated with a significantly elevated risk of type 2 diabetes”. This applies for both Asian and Western cultures, although due to findings suggesting that the more rice eaten the higher the risk, it is thought that Asian countries are at a higher risk. The authors recommend eating whole grains instead of refined carbohydrates such as white rice, which they hope will help slow down the global diabetes epidemic.
In an accompanying editorial, Dr Bruce Neal from the University of Sydney suggests that more, bigger studies are needed to substantiate the research hypothesis that white rice increases the chances of getting type 2 diabetes.
Is brown rice better? Usually, if you have a source of protein with it.
It is a great source of manganese, essential for energy production, antioxidant activity, and sex hormone production. … The protein in white rice has also been shown to be more available. This is important in parts of the world where rice is the main source of calories, particularly since rice is not a high protein food to begin with.
According to daveywaveyfitness.com:
The germ contains essential oils which otherwise cause brown rice to go bad after 6 – 8 months. Because this germ is removed in white rice, it can last up to 10 years before spoiling. It is the longer shelf life of white rice has made it extremely popular. Unfortunately, the heavy milling process also removes the rice’s fiber, vitamins and nutrients.
When comparing white rice to brown, consider the follow statistics. Brown rice has:
- About 7x more fiber
- Fewer carbs
- A lower glycemic index (doesn’t result in blood sugar spikes)
- 2.5x more iron
- 3x more vitamin B3
- 4x more vitamin B1
- 4x more magnesium
- 10x more vitamin B6
- Fewer calories
White rice has also been linked to increased risk of type 2 diabetes. According to researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, eating two or more servings of brown rice weekly lowers the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Eating five or more servings of white rice weekly increases that risk. In fact, researchers concluded that replacing 50 grams of white rice daily with brown rice would lower the overall type 2 diabetes risk in an individual by 16%.
My nutritionist recommends I give up white rice. Sure, I gave up sugar, so I guess I should switch to brown rice… but I don’t like brown rice. I like white rice. Then again, I am getting a bit of a gut….