Replacing as little as a third of a daily serving of white rice with an equal amount of brown rice may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, a study suggests. And replacing white rice with other types of whole grains can cut the risk even more.
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health say their study is the first to look at the relationship between rice intake and diabetes in a U.S. population. The authors based their findings on diet, lifestyle and health information from three studies covering 197,228 health-care workers, 80% of them women.
They found that eating five or more servings of white rice per week was associated with a slightly higher risk of type 2 diabetes than eating less than one serving a month. Eating two or more servings a week of brown rice, however, was associated with slightly lower risk.
The researchers conclude that replacing 50 grams of cooked white rice, equivalent to about a third of a serving, with an equal amount of brown rice seems to cut the risk of type 2 diabetes by 16%. Replacing white rice with other whole grains such as whole wheat and barley appears to lower risk by an estimated 36%, the paper says. The findings were published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
The study didn’t prove that eating brown rice cuts the risk of diabetes. And it is possible that brown rice eaters are simply healthier in other ways. But the study’s lead author, Qi Sun, now an instructor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, says that researchers adjusted for factors such as physical activity, body mass index and alcohol consumption that might have skewed the results. “After we adjusted for those, you still see an association,” he says…
Dr. Sun says rice intake is increasing in the U.S., but that people are mostly eating white rice. “The message for the public is that they should try to avoid refined carbohydrates, no matter if it’s [in the form of] rice or bread, and replace them with whole grains.”
Let’s face it, brown rice is the safe bet. But I’d be lying if I told you that I don’t indulge in white rice also, simply because I enjoy it.