In a new study, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) have found that eating five or more servings of white rice per week was associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
In contrast, eating two or more servings of brown rice per week was associated with a lower risk of the disease. The researchers estimated that replacing 50 grams of white rice (just one third of a typical daily serving) with the same amount of brown rice would have lower risk of type 2 diabetes by 16 per cent. The same replacement with other whole grains, such as whole wheat and barley, was associated with a 36 per cent reduced risk.
The study was the first to specifically examine white rice and brown rice in relation to diabetes risk among Americans, said Qi Sun, who did the research while at HSPH.
“Rice consumption in the US has dramatically increased in recent decades. We believe replacing white rice and other refined grains with whole grains, including brown rice, would help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes,” Sun said. At present, he is an instructor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
According to HSPH, Brown rice is superior to white rice when it comes to fiber content, minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals, and it often does not generate as large an increase in blood sugar levels after a meal. Milling and polishing brown rice removes most vitamins and minerals. In addition, milling strips away most of its fiber, which helps deter diabetes by slowing the rush of sugar (glucose) into the bloodstream.
Further the researchers examined white and brown rice consumption in relation to type 2 diabetes risk in 157,463 women and 39,765 men participating in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital-based Nurses’ Health Study I and II and the health professionals follow-up study.
The researchers also analysed responses to questionnaires about diet, lifestyle, and health conditions which participants completed every four years.
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