According to the Daily Mail, new research has found that “eating white rice could raise your risk of type 2 diabetes”, a condition in which the body finds it difficult to regulate blood sugar. White rice can potentially release high levels of sugar into the blood when the starch it contains is digested. This has led to the speculation amongst researchers of the link between white rice and type 2 diabetes.
This is potentially bad news for me as an Asian because white rice is a staple within the Indian and Asian diet. What’s more, studies have shown Asian people also have a greater risk factor for developing diabetes. Interestingly, the above research found the link between white rice and the risk of developing diabetes was evident in Asian but not Western participants. Is there a link therefore between the diet of Asian people and the fact that they are more prone to developing diabetes? Does this signal the end of the Great British favourite “Rice and curry” for me? As is often the case, the answers are not straightforward since there are several risk factors for developing diabetes. Furthermore, this research suggests consumption of white rice is linked with diabetes but doesn’t establish white rice as a definitive cause of the condition.
On the positive side, white rice is low in fat and according to the NHS guidance The Eat Well Plate, foods we should be eating more of are starchy foods i.e. bread, pasta, potatoes and rice. However, “brown” and “wholemeal” carbs do keep you fuller for longer and help reduce the temptation to overeat when compared with “white” carbs. This helps with weight control and is an important benefit since obesity is also a risk factor for developing diabetes. So a sensible option for me would be to switch to brown rice. However, I personally think it doesn’t taste great with Indian food. Furthermore, the research involved participants eating four portions of white rice per day which doesn’t quite fit with the concept of a varied and balanced diet. So a sensible compromise would be for me to eat small amounts of white rice and more wholemeal chappatis and rotis (equally delicious and minus the butter when watching my weight) with my curry. Once again, I am reminded of the catchphrase “Everything in moderation” – it seems I can’t say it enough!