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August, 2010

Brown Rice Cuts Diabetes Risk For Your Patients

By DCPI Staff

One easy way to help your patients be more healthy and cut their risk for diabetes is to suggest that they ask for brown rice instead of white rice the next time they order take-out from their favorite Chinese restaurant. Brown rice is the whole grain before it has been stripped of its bran outer layer, which is high in fiber and nutrients. Once that layer has been removed, the white rice that remains is mostly starch. Brown rice also has a lower glycemic index than white rice, so it does not raise blood sugar levels as rapidly, thereby lowering the risk for developing diseases such as diabetes.

Now, a recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine by a team of researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health adds even more to the data that shows why brown rice is the healthier choice as compared to white rice.1 The researchers started by looking at questionnaire data from three large studies that asked participants about lifestyle practices, food choices and chronic diseases. The data from a total of 39,765 men and 57,463 women were analyzed.

Participants were divided into several groups with regard to their rice intake. For white rice, the groups were divided as follows: less than one serving (one cup cooked rice) per month, one to three servings per month, one serving per week, two to four servings per week and five or more servings per week. For brown rice, the groups were divided into: less than one serving per month, one to four servings per month and two or more servings per week. This dietary information was then correlated with incidence of type 2 diabetes.

The researchers found that those people who ate two or more servings of brown rice per week reduced their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by about 10 percent. Furthermore, those who ate greater amounts of brown rice were also more likely to be physically active, leaner, and have a higher intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and a lower intake of red meat and trans fats. They were also less likely to have a family history of diabetes or to be smokers compared to those who ate brown rice less often.

In comparison, those subjects who ate white rice five or more times per week were almost 20 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who ate white rice less than once a month. In addition, they were more likely to have a family history of diabetes and to consume a lower amount of whole grains and fibers.

The researchers also found that by replacing one-third of a serving (one-third cup of cooked rice) of white rice with the same amount of brown rice each day could reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes by 16 percent.

According to primary researcher Dr. Qi Sun, an instructor in medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School, the problem with many food studies is that they simply lump brown and white rice together into one category.

Sun added, "The bottom line is we showed evidence that increased consumption of white rice, even at this low level of intake [one-third cup], is still associated with increased risk. It's really recommended to replace white rice with the same amount of brown rice or other whole grains."

Reference

  1. Sun Q, Spiegelman D, van Dam RM, et al. White rice, brown rice, and risk of type 2 diabetes in US men and women. Arch Intern Med 2010 Jun 14;170(11):961-9.

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