Many people are consuming white rice every day. Whether it be visiting Asian and Latino restaurants or adding it to home cooked meals, white rice use has increased. It’s a common food in soups, entrées, desserts and sides and the taste and low cost make it a convenient choice. Additionally, much of the rice today is more processed in order to decrease the cooking time. Recent research suggests this high-starch grain may be linked to type 2 diabetes.
In a recent study by the British Medical Journal, researchers examined data of an estimated 353,000 people. They looked at the data to measure white rice consumption and cases of type 2 diabetes. The research found that those individuals that ate the most amount of white rice (four servings per day) were 27 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who ate the least amount of white rice. The researchers also found that for every large bowl of white rice (5.5 ounces) a person ate per day, the risk for type 2 diabetes rose 10 percent.
Health advisors address these research findings by explaining how glycemic index is the main cause: white rice is rapidly converted to sugar in your blood stream. White rice isn’t the only culprit with a high glycemic index, other high-starch carbohydrates (and highly processed food) include white bread, white pasta and white potatoes. Essentially, eating high glycemic foods that are quickly converted to sugar can leave you feeling hungry thereby increasing the probability of overeating and developing type 2 diabetes.
Diabetics typically have a fasting blood glucose level higher than 126 mg/dl. This is done by testing the blood after fasting for 12 or more hours and taking a blood glucose test. A better indicator is the hemoglobin A1c test that provides the average blood glucose levels during the previous 8-12 weeks. When blood sugar gets this high, the body doesn’t produce enough insulin to convert glucose into energy.
People at risk for developing type 2 diabetes can improve their ability to regulate blood sugar by
- losing weight,
- exercising, and
- modifying diet.
If their blood sugar levels remain high, despite behavior modification, medication may be necessary.
White rice is popular, tasty, but may not be the best dietary choice. The good news is there are healthy alternatives that are just as tasty and easy to make. For instance, brown, rice, whole grain pasta, quinoa and other grains. These types of grains have more bran and fiber than white rice, and contain additional nutrients. Naturally, we all know that eating more fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains combined with regular exercise can also prevent diabetes and help regulate blood sugar levels. Just another friendly reminder to try an establish good habits.
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