Scientists have come up with a new way to cook rice, that reduces the calories absorbed by the body by more than half, leading to decrease in obesity rates.
This simple way to cook rice, which has about 240 calories per cup, is especially important in countries where the food is a staple.
Team leader Sudhair A. James, at the College of Chemical Sciences in Sri Lanka, said that because obesity was a growing health problem, they wanted to find food-based solutions, and found that increasing rice resistant starch (RS) concentrations was a novel way to approach the problem. By using a specific heating and cooking regimen, the scientists concluded that "if the best rice variety is processed, it might reduce the calories by about 50-60 percent."
The team experimented with 38 kinds of rice from Sri Lanka, developing a new way of cooking rice that increased the RS content. In this method, they added a teaspoon of coconut oil to boiling water. Then, they added a half a cup of rice. They simmered this for 40 minutes, but one could boil it for 20-25 minutes instead, the researchers note.
Then, they refrigerated it for 12 hours. This procedure increased the RS by 10 times for traditional, non-fortified rice.
Explaining how can a simple change in cooking result in a lower-calorie food, James said that the oil enters the starch granules during cooking, changing its architecture so that it becomes resistant to the action of digestive enzymes. This means that fewer calories ultimately get absorbed into the body. The cooling was essential because amylose, the soluble part of the starch, leaves the granules during gelatinization. "Cooling for 12 hours will lead to formation of hydrogen bonds between the amylose molecules outside the rice grains which also turns it into a resistant starch." Reheating the rice for consumption, he notes, does not affect the RS levels.
The presentation will be held at the 249th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).