Although people in many Asian countries regularly consume white rice, a new study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) shows a link between consumption of white rice and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Study participants who ate between three and four servings of white rice each day experienced a 10 percent increase in their risk of developing the disease for each serving consumed, compared with those who ate only one or two servings each week.
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston evaluated data from four separate studies that varied in length from four to 22 years and included a total of 352,000 people, with 13,284 of the participants developing diabetes throughout the course of the study. Two of the studies were conducted in China and Japan, and two that took place in the United States and Australia.
None of the participants had diabetes when the studies began, and those who lived in Asian countries consumed an average of four servings of rice daily, compared to those in Western countries, who consumed an average of five servings per week or less. The research showed that a person’s likelihood of contracting Type 2 diabetes, which is linked closely with obesity, rose dramatically depending on the number of servings of white rice that were consumed each day.
According to researchers, the study was not intended to show a direct link between consuming white rice and being diagnosed with diabetes. However, it does show a correlation between consuming starchy carbohydrates that are low in fiber and high on the glycemic index, which causes a sudden spike in blood sugar levels, and contracting the disease.
“It’s not just white rice, either,” stated Qi Sun, MD, a researcher on the study. “Other white starchy carbohydrates, such as white bread, white pasta, and white potatoes, will likely have the same effect if eaten often enough.”
To avoid this, opt for whole grains more often than white carbs, which should be consumed in moderation. Since all starchy foods are believed to increase the risk for diabetes when consumed regularly, those who are at high risk for diabetes should aim to reduce the number of calories from this area and increase the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables that are eaten each day.
The research showed a close link between instances of Type 2 diabetes and white rice consumption among participants regardless of their ethnicity or place of residence, but women were found to have a greater likelihood than men of suffering from the disease.
Keep in mind that genetics also play an important role in determining whether or not you are at a significant risk for being diagnosed with diabetes, but obesity is also an important factor. Thinking about your food choices and understanding the role that carbohydrates play in your diet is also a key factor.
According to researchers, controlled studies will need to be conducted in order to determine whether or not consuming white rice every day can actually lead to being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Until then, eating healthy and getting plenty of exercise is a proven way to reduce your risk.
Sources: MSNBC Vitals