Confession: as much as I know brown rice is the healthier option, I find it hard to pass up a bowl of perfectly steamed white rice. The problem: white rice is stripped of nutrients and high in starch, which converts to sugars that your body uses for energy (glycogen) that can turn to fat if you don’t burn it off. Luckily, scientists may have found a way for white-rice-lovers like me to have a bowl without the guilt by reducing the amount of starches and calories in rice just by how you cook it.
The science behind it is this: white rice is made up of two different starches, digestible starch (glucose, which is what turns into glycogen) and resistant starch, which takes a long time to digest and isn’t converted into simple sugars. Cooking certain foods like rice, potatoes, and peas can alter how much of each type of starch exists in a food; in this study, researchers in Sri Lanka found a simple method for cooking rice that may increase the amount of resistant starches and therefore reduce the amount of calories in rice. Their simple solution? Add oil, which interacts with the starches in the rice to convert them to resistant starch, and then chill the cooked rice, which further changes its composition for the better.
More research needs to be done on this method, but the scientists hope that this slight modification in how people cook rice will help combat obesity rates around the world. They note that the reduction in calories depends on the type of rice you use. Also, while they tested 38 different varieties of rice, they only measured the results in one variety so far, in which they found a 10 to 12 percent reduction in calories. But the scientists are optimistic that this method may reduce calories by 50 to 60 percent ¡ª and since the cooking method sounds both easy and delicious, I’m willing to give it a shot.
Note that the chilling time is 12 hours but is a crucial step in converting the starches, so make a batch ahead of time that you can store in your fridge.