White Rice Linked to Diabetes Risk

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jun 19, 2012

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White Rice Linked to Diabetes RiskWhite rice, the staple food of several Asian countries, has been found to increase the chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes mellitus is closely related with inappropriate dietary pattern and obesity. White rice is a kind of milled rice from which husk, bran and germ are removed. After milling, the rice is polished to extend the duration of storage and prevent spoilage.

A study published in the BMJ journal linked white rice consumption with diabetes. Researchers compared consumption pattern of Asian countries (China and Japan) and Western countries (U.S. and Australia). The risk of developing diabetes was significantly high in Asian countries where individuals had four servings of white rice daily. On the other hand, western nationals had less than five servings a week and did not develop type 2 diabetes.

White Rice and Diabetes

  • The reason why white rice triggers diabetes is its high glycaemic composition, which leads to sudden surge in blood sugar levels.
  • High on glycaemic index, white rice induces rapid insulin response, which disrupts the body processes and mechanisms.
  • White starchy foods such as white rice raise diabetes risk when eaten frequently or in excess.
  • Refining of white rice before preparing them takes off vitamins, fibre, magnesium, minerals (lignans, phytoestrogens and phytic acid) and other nutrients. As a result, the starch’s ability to affect blood sugar increases.
  • Starchy carbohydrates such as white bread, white pasta and white potatoes also trigger diabetes just as how white rice does.
  • A period of inappropriate blood sugar levels may stimulate the appetite, leading to overeating.

Dietary Changes

  • Health experts recommend swapping white rice with brown rice to maintain normal blood sugar and insulin levels.
  • This doesn’t mean that you have to proscribe white rice from your dietary chart. You may eat white rice in moderation i.e. twice in 2—3 days.
  • Individuals vulnerable to diabetes must take measures to restrict its development by tracking the calorie count, food options and ensuring weight control with healthful foods.
  • Whole grains such as brown rice are not only healthy but also provide more energy than white grains.
  • White rice has now been enriched with nutritional elements such as B1, B3 and iron. Despite the boost in nutrition, the nutritional value of white rice cannot match that of brown rice (or other whole grains).
  • Whole grains also benefit pregnant women and growing children, serving their special nutritional needs.
  • Besides diabetes, several health complications and nutritional deficiencies can be prevented with healthy whole grains.


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