Not all rice is bad for pre-diabetics
Contrary to popular belief, a new study suggests that eating rice does not substantially raise blood sugar levels — thus increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes — although researchers warn that some varieties of rice may need to be avoided.
The study was published this month in the journal Rice by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines, and Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO).
It found that as many as three quarters of 235 rice varieties analysed had a low to medium glycaemic index (GI), and were therefore less likely to lead to diabetes.
GI measures the effect of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. Low GI foods are more slowly absorbed, causing a gradual release of sugar in the body and a lower risk of diabetes. Doctors often advise diabetics to avoid rice, believing it is a high-GI food.
The findings could have important implications for Asia where rice is the staple food for 3.5 billion people, and diabetes is a growing public health concern, said Melissa Fitzgerald, who led the IRRI team.
"With or without diabetes, it will be difficult for them to give up rice," Fitzgerald told SciDev.Net.
The International Diabetes Federation estimates that by 2030, seven of the ten countries with the highest number of diabetics will be in Asia, straining public health budgets.
The researchers found that the so-called "waxy gene", and the related amylose content, are the key determinants of the GI of rice. Rice varieties with high amylose have lower GI.
Basmati Rice via Shutterstock.
Read more at ENN Affiliate SciDevNet.