Eating Brown Rice to Cut Diabetes Risk

Eating Brown Rice to Cut Diabetes Risk

November 28, 2016

Brown rice is a whole grain — white rice before it has been refined and polished and stripped of the bran covering, which is high in fiber and nutrients. Brown rice also has a lower glycemic index than white rice, which means it doesn’t cause blood glucose levels to rise as rapidly. 

Now a new study from researchers at Harvard reports that Americans who eat two or more servings of brown rice a week reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by about 10 percent compared to people who eat it less than once a month. And those who eat white rice on a regular basis — five or more times a week — are almost 20 percent more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who eat it less than once a month. 

Just replacing a third of a serving of white rice with brown each day could reduce one’s risk of Type 2 diabetes by 16 percent, a statistical analysis showed. A serving is half a cup of cooked rice. 

The study, which was published in The Archives of Internal Medicine and used data from two Harvard nurses’ health studies and a separate study of health professionals, isn’t the first to point a finger at foods like white rice as a culprit in Type 2 diabetes. A 2007 study of Chinese women in Shanghai found that middle-aged women who ate large amounts of white rice and other refined carbohydrates were also at increased risk for diabetes compared to their peers who ate less. 

The researchers who did the study analyzed rice consumption among 39,765 men and 57,463 women who participated in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and the Nurses’ Health Study I and II; participants in the three groups ranged in age from 26 to 87. 

They had filled out food frequency questionnaires when the studies started — in 1986, 1984 and 1991, respectively — and updated their diet information every four years subsequently, through 2005 and 2006. They were also asked about their medical histories. During the course of the studies, more than 10,000 participants developed Type 2 diabetes.