Cut the calories in rice by using this cooking method

Wary of all the calories in rice? Try out this cooking method.

15 Apr 2015

We've seen a few articles lately on the internet about how to make certain foods less fattening by using specific cooking methods. One that keeps cropping us is the re-heating of certain foods.

According to this article: re-heating pasta can make it a lot healthier - and now we hear that cooking rice with a bit of coconut oil (1tsp for every half-cup of rice added to boiling water before adding the rice), letting it cool down and re-heating it can also cut the calories enormously. But how?

Rice is one of the world's staple foods. It's easy to cook, cheap and very versatile. It also contains around 200 calories, most of which comes in the form of starch, which turns into sugar, and often thereafter body fat.

According to this article on ABC News, an undergraduate and his mentor at the College of Chemical Sciences in Sri Lanka found the method which converts starch into a form the body can't easily turn to glucose and cuts calories more than 10% in the most fattening kind of the 38 varieties of rice they looked at. And they believe it could reduce starch by up to 60% in other kinds of white rice.

A bit of food chemistry

Not all starches are the same. Digestible starches take only a little time to digest and are quickly turned into glucose, and then later glycogen. Excess glycogen ends up adding weight to our bodies if we don't expend enough energy to burn it off.

Resistant starches take a long time for the body to process and aren't converted into glucose or glycogen because we lack the ability to digest them, and add up to fewer calories.

A growing body of research, however, has shown that it might be possible to change the types of starches found in foods by modifying how they are prepared.

And rice, depending on the method of preparation, undergoes observable chemical changes. Most notably, fried rice and pilaf style rice have a greater proportion of resistant starch than the most commonly eaten type, steamed rice.

(Read the full article on ABC News).

Huge impact

"If you can reduce the digestible starch in something like steamed rice, you can reduce the calories," said Dr. Pushparajah Thavarajva, a professor who is supervising the research. "The impact could be huge."

There is precedence for this theory, Thavarajva added. Work done on potatoes at Harvard University and studies at Indian Universities using legumes and cereals noted similar starch-and-calorie reductions using similar preparations, he said.

Well we are all for giving it a go here at Food24 - and we look forward to more research being done to help rice lovers enjoy their favourite staple with healthier consequences.

Article sources: Washington Post, ABC News

Very important things to always remember when cooking rice:

- Cool the rice as quickly as possible (ideally within one hour). If left to cool slowly to room temperature, bacillus cereus bacteria begin growing on the grains, which can lead to a mild case of food poisoning. Not fun!

- Keep rice in the fridge for no more than one day until reheating.

- When you reheat any rice, always check that the dish is steaming hot all the way through! 

- Don't reheat rice more than once!

Here are some nice rice recipes, and recipes that go with rice, to tuck into:

Mexican green rice

Quick mince with rice

Chicken curry and rice

Quick braised meatballs with rice

Please let us know in the comments below if you find these articles on latest scientific studies interesting or not.

- Food24


NEXT ON FOOD24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.