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article imageScientists reduce calories in rice by half with simple method

By Stephen Morgan     Mar 25, 2015 in Health
Scientists in Sri Lanka have found an easy way to reduce calories in rice by half. The breakthrough could help in the fight against rising obesity rates by cutting the amount of carbohydrates absorbed into the body.
Rice is one of the world's most eaten foods and it's the case not only in its traditional home in Asia, but now in the West, as well. We devour tonnes of Indian curries, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese dishes and risottos and paellas. Rice has become an integral part of our staple diet. Furthermore, it's cheap and filling and difficult to replace.
Unfortunately, however, rice is a food which contains one of the highest rates of fat-creating, calorie-high carbohydrates and it is a major contributor to climbing rates of obesity in both Asia and the rest of the world. A cup of rice contains about 240 calories. Therefore, reducing this could be a major help in advancing global health.
Now, scientists in the College of Chemical Sciences, Colombo, Sri Lanka have succeeded in halving those calories with a simple cooking method all of us can use. Their results will be presented to the 249th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). quotes the lead researcher, Sudhair A. James,
"Because obesity is a growing health problem, especially in many developing countries, we wanted to find food-based solutions."
Mr James explained why this was so important.
"After your body converts carbohydrates into glucose," he said, "any leftover fuel gets converted into a polysaccharide carbohydrate called glycogen. Your liver and muscles store glycogen for energy and quickly turn it back into glucose as needed. The issue is that the excess glucose that doesn't get converted to glycogen ends up turning into fat, which can lead to excessive weight or obesity."
The researchers tested 38 different types of rice and by changing the way it is cooked, the scientists found that "if the best rice variety is processed, it might reduce the calories by about 50-60 percent."
The trick is simply to add some coconut oil to the rice while cooking and then let it cool for 12 hours in the fridge. After that, steam the rice through to make sure it is pipping hot, in order to avoid any danger of food poisoning, says the Mail Online. Do not let it stay in the fridge for longer than one day.
The scientists added a teaspoon of coconut oil to boiling water for a half a cup (105g) of rice, and then either simmered it for 40 minutes, or boiled it for 20 to 25 minutes. They found that this increased the amount of resistant starch (RS) concentrations.
Rice contains two types of starch, one RS, which is indigestible and the other one which is digestible. They then looked at changing the digestible into RS.
Medical Daily says that as a result of their experiment,
"The RS content of traditional, non-fortified rice increased 10-fold...during their cooking process the oil alters the starch by making it resistant to the action of digestive enzymes."
The Telegraph says that James emphasized that the cooling process was essential, because,
"Amylose, the soluble part of the starch, leaves the granules during gelatinization. Cooling for 12 hours will lead to formation of hydrogen bonds between the amylose molecules outside the rice grains which also turns it into a resistant starch."
Medical Daily continues,
"Indigestible (RS) starch is not broken down in the small intestines, which is where carbohydrates are metabolized into glucose and simple sugars are absorbed into the bloodstream."
While cooking, the coconut oil penetrates the starch granules and changes their architecture, and, as a result they become resistant to the action of digestive enzymes, said Mr James. Reheating doesn't change the RS content and so the body absorbs less calories.
The next step for the team is to research which varieties of rice might be best suited to this process, as well as if other oils could also have the same effect.
More about Rice, Reduce, Calories, 50 percent, Half
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