Rice is a popular dish enjoyed around the world. It pairs well with many food flavors and textures, making it a common side dish in many cultures’ cuisines. It is eaten in large quantities in India and China, where it is an inexpensive staple. However, the downside to this delicious food is that it’s not the healthiest choice – it’s high in carbohydrates, as much as 200 calories per cup, and it quickly converts to sugar and body fat. It’s not only bad for your weight but also your health. Rice consumption has been linked to higher incidences of diabetes.
If this staple food were to be less calorie dense what an amazing impact that would have on people’s health. The good news is that researchers in Sri Lanka have been pondering that question and made a remarkable discovery.
By tweaking with how rice is cooked, Sri Lankan undergraduate student Sudhair James, supervised by his professor Dr. Pushparajah Thavarajah, at the College of Chemical Sciences, has found a way to reduce the calorie intake by half. The pair tested 8 different recipes and 38 types of rice to find the winning formula. They discovered that making two slight changes to the traditional boiling method of cooking rice can alter the way the body absorbs the carbohydrates.
The good news is this method doesn’t reinvent the wheel in cooking so it’s easy to apply to your everyday life. Traditionally rice is cooked in a pot. The new method only involves two changes to the way one usually boils rice.
How does it work?
This might seem too simple however this method is valid when you understand food chemistry. The researchers explain that by adding coconut oil, a lipid, they changed the way the rice interacted with starch. Boiling rice creates a digestible starch, which is easy for the body to digest, and converts quickly to glucose, energy and body fat. With a lipid in the mix, the rice’s composition changes and behaves more like a resistant starch. This healthier starch takes the body longer to process and isn’t converted into glucose and fat. Chilling the rice immediately fortifies the resistant starch.
The team continues to tamper with different varieties of rice and oils. They hope they can apply their discovery to other carbohydrate and starch heavy foods like bread. Since this method is easy to replicate at home and doesn’t interfere with the rice’s flavor, I recommend you try this method out for yourselves!