Photo Credit: Redchopsticks/Getty Images
If you’re at all health conscious, I assume you’ve done as I have, and pretty much banished white rice from your cupboards. After all, every study coming out these days suggests that refined carbohydrates are about as good for you as bacon. Last month, we reported that bagels are bad for our heart. And today, a new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that eating white rice on a regular basis can seriously up your risk of diabetes. Eating brown rice, on the other hand, can lower it.
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) found that eating five or more servings of white rice per week was associated with a 17 percent greater risk of type 2 diabetes–even after adjusting for other lifestyle factors such as age, BMI, family history and other dietary habits. That’s because white rice, and other refined carbohydrates, turns immediately into sugar once they hit our bloodstream. This catapults glucose levels, wreaks havoc on the pancreas, and over time, can lead to diabetes.
According to the USDA, one serving is equal to half a cup of cooked rice. That means eating just two and half cups of white rice a week on average could up a person’s risk. The good news for rice lovers? The study also found that people could actually lower their risk of diabetes by the same amount just by subbing in brown rice one-third of the time. If you're one of those who doesn’t love the taste of whole-grain rice, you can ease your way into it by cooking a white-and-brown-rice mix.
I never think about the implications of eating too much rice because I am not a fan of the stuff–brown, white or otherwise. The only rice I eat regularly is what’s in my sushi rolls. Even though I am a voracious sushi eater–I put back three or four specialty rolls a week–I always assumed the amount of rice in each one was negligible. But, after reading this study, I wanted to make sure. So I took a culinary tour through a few recipe web sites, and discovered I couldn’t have been more wrong. Turns out, the typical inside-out roll has three-quarters to a full cup of rice in every roll, which means I’m one of those people in the study who is eating at least five servings of the stuff every week!
Though I doubt many people eat as much sushi as I do, it is a good reminder of how quickly the little things add up. Since, while writing this, I got a craving for sushi (funny how that happens, isn’t it?), I’ve already amended my ways. When I called for takeout, I asked them to make mine with brown rice. And just like that, I’ve just reduced my risk for diabetes. If only all lifestyle modifications could be so easy!
Do you ever choose brown rice over white? Chime in below!
Want some brown rice recipes? Try These:
Peppered Salmon Served With Rice and Tangy Sauce