Rice consumption and diabetes

You probably heard recently that white rice consumption is linked to type 2 diabetes. This has likely made some people terrified of rice, giving men afraid of commitment yet another reason to not walk down the isle. Others are just apathetic due to conflicting health news headlines. People who eat high protein or “paleo” grain-free diets feel vindicated.

The news media very often misrepresents the findings from scientific studies, often to sensationalize or over-simplify things to boost ratings. So people can’t be blamed for being cynical of what they hear in the media. What really has to be examined is the scientific evidence behind the head-lines.

Now I am not an expert by any means, but I prefer going to the source to see what is really going on. As far as I can tell, researchers found a correlation between white rice intake and type 2 diabetes; this means they are linked, but the evidence does not suggest that white rice actually causes type 2 diabetes. So it looks like what was said in the media had a lot of truth to it.

According to: BMJ. 2012; 344: e1454.

Pooled data suggest that higher white rice consumption is associated with increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in comparison with lower intake levels
This association is stronger for Asian (Chinese and Japanese) populations than for Western populations
Overall, there was a dose-response relation between higher intake of white rice and increasing risk of diabetes

It appears the association is much stronger for east Asians than for westerners(mostly caucasian, I will assume). And east Asians eat a lot more white rice than westerners. Why white rice consumption is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in east Asians, but not as much in westerners, we do not know. I don’t even think we can rule out genetic factors. There are so many confounding factors that need to be sorted out.

White rice wasn’t found to be the cause of type 2 diabetes, but it may play a role in it somehow. This isn’t surprising considering white rice’s high glycemic value(which means it rapidly converts to sugar), and due to the fact that it is almost nothing but empty calories, since it was stripped of its husk, bran, and germ. It has little fiber, protein or minerals as a result. Brown rice, which still has the nutritious germ layer on it is much more healthful, though it tends to spoil faster than white rice due to the oily germ. Keep this in mind when buying brown rice.

Better yet, you can try eating other, more nutritious grains instead of rice, like rye, barley, amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa or millet. Quinoa and amaranth are loaded with protein, fiber and important minerals. This is not surprising, considering that quinoa, and amaranth are in the same family as spinach. This, in turn means that quinoa and amaranth aren’t “real” grains – real grains are grasses, and spinach and its relatives are not a type of grass.

This doesn’t mean you can’t eat them like grain.

Advertisements

3 responses to “Rice consumption and diabetes

  1. And then of course one should be “moderate” in their food choices. I eat a brown rice but also other whole grains (wheat, corn, oats, barley, and wild rice) plus various legumes. The price of quinoa and amaranth is too high for me so I am trying to figure out how to grow them. One thing people should know is that darker colored varieties of quinoa and amaranth are less digestable so choose light colored seeds. Also, quinoa has saponins on the seed coat that should be rinsed off or they will interfere with digestion.

  2. Interesting! I did not know this! We have white rice in our household everyday. I already don’t eat wheat-based products, so now I guess I will play around with brown rice, brown rice pasta, and quinoa! Any other suggestions for good carbs?

    • A little white rice every now and then isn’t necessarily bad, but if you want more nutritious grains, I would recommend buckwheat(not related to wheat), amaranth, millet, barley, and rye. There are others, but these are the most easily available.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s