Harvard Study Says Brown Rice Twice Weekly Can Reduce Diabetes Risk by 10 Percent

The study was the first of its kind to distinguish between white and brown rice.

| Jun 28, 2010

White rice and brown rice are reminiscent of those old dramas about identical twins, wherein one turns out to be angelic and the other turns out to be bad news.

A Harvard/Brigham and Women's Hospital study says that if you eat two or more servings of brown rice per week, you can reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes by about 10 percent compared to people who eat it less than once a month.

That's the good twin.

If you eat white rice five or more times a week, however, you are about 17 percent more likely to acquire type 2 than a person who eats white rice less than once a month.

That's the bad twin.

The study, which tracked 39,765 men and 157,463 women, was the first of its kind to distinguish between white and brown rice. White rice has been processed to polish its appearance by removing its nutrient-rich, high-fiber bran covering. While the refined grain is more palatable and flavor-neutral to many diners than brown rice, it is also high on the glycemic index. Because the body quickly converts it into glucose, large quantities of white rice can contribute to insulin resistance and the eventual onset of type 2 diabetes.

Brown rice is much lower on the glycemic scale, which means that the body takes longer and works harder to convert it into glucose. That delay in metabolization allows the body to more easily maintain normal blood sugar levels and properly utilize insulin.

The Harvard study also found that whole grains as a group, when replacing white rice, lowered the risk of developing type 2 by an average of 36 percent in the study cohort. Its authors, who published their findings in the Archives of Internal Medicine, say that their data support the recommendation that people's carbohydrate intake should come primarily from whole, not refined, grains.

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Eating Brown Rice to Cut Diabetes Risk


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