White Rice Ups Risk of Diabetes — But Why Now?

White rice has joined the list of other processed “white” foods that can increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, researchers have found.


This starchy food is a dietary staple for more than half of the world, but its refined nature means that it can spike blood sugar levels if it takes up a disproportionate part of your diet.


This proved especially true for Asian populations, said the researchers who examined the results of four separate studies.


Those who reported eating the most white rice overall had a 27% greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes than those who reported eating the least, with the risk highest among Asians, researchers reported. And among Asians, those who ate the most rice had a 55% greater risk of developing diabetes than those who ate the least.


No surprise, Asians also reported eating more white rice than Western patients in the studies, averaging three or four servings a day vs. two or three a week. 


What made this interesting to the researchers was the fact that this refined and polished grain has been a staple for thousands of years, seemingly without causing this type of health problem.  Some researchers believe that more analysis is needed to get a more accurate picture of why the diabetes risk is expanding now after so many have eaten this grain for so long, but the answer really might be very simple.


What has changed in recent decades worldwide is a shift to more sedentary lifestyles, more availability of food, and the consumption of other processed “white” food – bread, sugar, sodas, and pastries.


White rice is stripped of its hull, which holds the fiber and nutrients that make brown rice a better choice for a healthy diet. Although even white rice varieties differ, and cooking methods have an impact, all processed rices have a higher glycemic index than brown rice and other whole grains.


What you should do: Try brown rice. Short grain brown rice cooks faster than long grain, and if you’re eating out in an Asian restaurant, ask the owner if they offer brown rice. More and more do, and the more you ask, the more likely it is the rest will do so sooner.

About Jim Healthy

Jim Healthy™ is a prolific health writer with a life-long dedication to researching and publishing the most important health discoveries of our time -- and creating practical “action plans” that help readers incorporate these new medical findings in their daily lives. He is the co-author of The Healthy Body Book, Arthritis Interrupted, The 30 Day Diabetes Cure, and The Healing Kitchen.
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