Rice, which is the basis of many traditional cuisines, is perhaps the most common food worldwide. It is estimated that people in Asia consume 90 percent of all rice which is produced. Rice is particularly popular because it is easily combined with various types of food and it is relatively cheap.
But on the other hand, it has a bad side — frequent consumption of white rice is associated with increased risk of diabetes. A of cooked rice contains 200 calories, most of which come from the starch, which is then converted into sugar and eventually ends up as fat deposits.
But scientists recently discovered a simple trick with the help of which rice depletes the calories and thus becomes healthier for consumption. It is pure chemistry.
Namely, a student at the College of Chemistry in Sri Lanka and his mentor were trying to find a way of cooking rice that would reduce its caloric intake by 50 percent, and also will add some additional benefits to health. This ingenious method that is actually simple chemical manipulation includes only a few easy steps.
— What we did was boil rice in the usual way, but when the water was already boiling, we added coconut oil, before we added the raw rice, about 3% of the rice weight which we wanted to cook.
Once boiled, leave it to cool in the refrigerator for about 12 hours. That is all said by Sudair James, who presented his preliminary study of National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
This loss of calories is explained by the behavioral change of the starch. Namely, there are types of starch that can be easily converted into glucose and then glycogen and they need less time to digest because they are called easily digestible kinds of starch.
Excess glycogen is deposited in our body in the form of fat, if we don’t perform enough physical activity. On the other hand, there is resistant starch, which the body takes longer to process.
Due to the lack of ability of the body for its digestion-resistant starch isn’t converted into glucose or glycogen, and thus it’s poorer in calories. Studies show that depending on the way they are cooked and processed, the starch can be changed from one to another type.
For example, studies have shown that heating certain food, such as potatoes and peas, change the amount of resistant, i.e. good starch.
If of easily digestible starch is reduced, the number of calories is also reduced. Impact could be huge, said Dr. Pushparajah Tavarajah, professor and supervisor of the study.
To achieve this, the student and the professor studied many different recipes of preparing rice. Found that by adding lipids (in this case — coconut oil, which is widely used in Sri Lanka) in the water before adding the rice, and then instantly cooling the boiled rice, it drastically changes its composition, but in a good way.
— The oil reacts with the starch and alters its structure. Cooling of the rice, though, facilitates the conversion of starch into digestible resistant. The result is a healthier meal, even if it’s reheated, says James.