Scientists have discovered a way of cooking rice that could dramatically reduce the calorie content in it. The discovery was made by researchers from The College of Chemical Sciences in Sri Lanka. They found that by adding coconut oil to the cooking rice, the amount of calories can be reduced by an astounding 40-50%.
A cup of rice contains roughly around 200 calories, and consuming such a high amount of calories on a daily basis is not good for our health. It is believed that excessive consumption of rice can lead to diabetes and other diseases.
To understand what is going on, you need to understand a bit of food chemistry.
Not all starches, as it happens, are created equal. Some, known as digestible starches, take only a little time to digest, are quickly turned into glucose, and then later glycogen. The excess glycogen ends up adding to the size of our guts if we don't expend enough energy to burn it off. Other starches, meanwhile, called resistant starches, take a long time for the body to process, aren't converted into glucose or glycogen because we lack the ability to digest them, and add up to fewer calories.
“If you can reduce the amount of digestible starches in something like steamed rice, you can reduce the calories,” said Dr. Pushparajah Thavarajah, one of the researchers leading and supervising the experiment.
“What we did is cook the rice as you normally do, but when the water is boiling, before adding the raw rice, we added the coconut oil- about 3 percent of the rice we’re going to cook,” said Sudhair James, an undergraduate student at The College of Chemical Sciences, who, along with Dr. Thavarajah, was leading the experiment.
When the rice has finished cooking, they put it into the refrigerator and kept it there for 12 hours.
“The oil interacts with the starch in rice and changes its’ architecture,” said James. “Chilling the rice then helps foster the conversion of starches.”
So what actually happened was that the oil interacted with the rice molecules changed its’ internal structure and converted the digestible starches into resistant starches. The amount of digestible starches, then decreased by as much as 10 times, and the calorie content reduced by about 12%.
The prospect of lower calorie rice is a big deal. Obesity rates are rising around the world, particularly in our part of the world, where people rely more heavily on rice. Rice, of course, is not the sole cause of weight gain. But reducing the amount of calories in a cup of rice by even as little as 10 percent could have an enormous impact on us.