There’s a science-backed way to make heart-healthier rice (Photo: Getty Images)
Good news, rice lovers: your favorite grain is about to get a whole lot healthier. A new study out of the College of Chemical Sciences in Colombo, Sri Lanka found that cooking rice in a certain way increased its resistant starch content, lowering its calorie count and making it less likely to lead to weight gain. The cooking process could cut the calories in rice by “about 50 to 60 percent,” study author Sudhair A. James says, helping heavy rice consumers with their weight-loss efforts.
One cup of medium grain white rice has roughy 246 calories; this new cooking method will cut that number to as little as 147 calories per cup.
The method works by changing the rice’s digestible starch to indigestible starch, which prevents much of the rice from being metabolized into glucose and absorbed into the bloodstream during digestion. “After your body converts carbohydrates into glucose,” James explains, “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.”
To make the lower-calorie rice, add a teaspoon of coconut oil to boiling water. Stir in half a cup of rice and simmer for 20 to 40 minutes, or until rice is fully cooked. Stick it in the fridge for 12 hours, and voila — rice with 10 times the resistant starch and up to 60 percent fewer calories than normal.
The recipe is simple, but DOES require preparing 12 hours in advance (Photo: Yahoo)
“The cooling is essential because amylose, the soluble part of the starch, leaves the granules during gelatinization [which happens naturally as rice cools],” James says. “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.” The process is final — reheating the rice won’t reverse any of the changes.
Those who worry that adding calorie-dense coconut oil to rice would make the food more fattening shouldn’t worry; the shift in starch type cancels out more calories than the coconut oil adds in.
Interestingly enough, the method isn’t far off from Middle Eastern and Turkish methods of making pilaf, or pilav, by cooking rice in a combination of water and butter. Whether that method might have similar results hasn’t been tested yet. These studies were performed with unfortified white rice and coconut oil, though James says his team will test different rice types and fats in the future.
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