Making rice healthier through chemistry

Discussion in 'Survival of the Fittest' started by CATO, Mar 25, 2015.

  1. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

    Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories - The Washington Post

    Rice, the lifeblood of so many nations' cuisines, is perhaps the most ubiquitous food in the world. In Asia, where an estimated 90 percent of all rice is consumed, the pillowy grains are part of almost every meal. In the Caribbean, where the starch is often mixed with beans, it's a staple too. Even here in the United States, where people eat a comparatively modest amount of rice, plenty is still consumed.

    Rice is popular because it's malleableit pairs well with a lot of different kinds of food—and it's relatively cheap. But like other starch-heavy foods, it has one central flaw: it isn't that good for you. White rice consumption, in particular, has been linked to a higher risk of diabetes.A cup of the cooked grain carries with it roughly 200 calories, most of which comes in the form of starch, which turns into sugar, and often thereafter body fat.

    But what if there were a simple way to tweak rice ever so slightly to make it much healthier?

    An undergraduate student at the College of Chemical Sciences in Sri Lanka and his mentor have been tinkering with a new way to cook rice that can reduce its calories by as much as 50 percent and even offer a few other added health benefits. The ingenious method, which at its core is just a simple manipulation of chemistry, involves only a couple easy steps in practice.

    "What we did is cook the rice as you normally do, but when the water is boiling, before adding the raw rice, we added coconut oil—about 3 percent of the weight of the rice you're going to cook," said Sudhair James, who presented his preliminary research at National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) on Monday. "After it was ready, we let it cool in the refrigerator for about 12 hours. That's it."

    How does it work?
    To understand what's 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. 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 less 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. At the very least, we know that there are observable changes when certain foods are cooked different ways.

    [This surprisingly tough quiz will make you second guess how well you know food]

    Potatoes, for instance, go from having the right kind of starch to the less healthful kind when they are cooked or mashed (sigh, I know). The process of heating and cooling certain vegetables, like peas and sweet potatoes, can also alter the amount of resistant (see: good) starches, according to a 2009 study. 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, as strange as that might seem.

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

    Understanding this, James and Thavarajva tested eight different recipes on 38 different kinds of rice found in Sri Lanka. What they found is that by adding a lipid (coconut oil in this case, because it's widely used in Sri Lanka) ahead of cooking the rice, and then cooling the rice immediately after it was done, they were able to drastically change its composition—and for the better.

    "The oil interacts with the starch in rice and changes its architecture," said James. "Chilling the rice then helps foster the conversion of starches. The result is a healthier serving, even when you heat it back up."

    So far they have only measured the chemical outcome of the most effective cooking method for the least healthful of the 38 varieties. But that variety still produced a 10 to 12 percent reduction in calories. "With the better kind, we expect to reduce the calories by as much as 50 to 60 percent," said James.

    Cooking that can change the world
    The prospect of less caloric rice is a big deal. Obesity rates are rising around the world, particularly in the developing world, where people rely more heavily on cheaper food staples. China and India, which are already seeing rising obesity problems, are huge consumers of 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 for future generations.

    "Obesity has been a problem in the United States for some time," said Thavarajah. "But it's becoming a problem in Asia, too. People are eating larger and larger portions of rice, which isn't good."

    [Why many restaurants don't actually want you to order dessert]

    The researchers still have to test the remaining varieties of rice, including Suduru Samba, which they believe will produce the largest calorie reduction. They also plan to experiment with oils other than coconut oil, like sunflower oil.

    A world where commercially sold rice comes pre-cooked and with much fewer calories might not be that far off. People should already be able to replicate the process at home, although James warns the results might vary depending on the type of rice used. And there's good reason to believe the chemistry could be applied to many other popular but less-than-healthy foods.

    "It's about more than rice," said Thavarajah. "I mean, can we do the same thing for bread? That's the real question here."
  2. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    Our way of making rice healthier involves a head of cauliflower and the grater blade on a food processor.
    Mindgrinder and Cruisin Sloth like this.
  3. vonslob

    vonslob Monkey++

    Thanks Cato, I will give this a try. We have started using coconut oil and are finding new uses for it everyday
  4. Cruisin Sloth

    Cruisin Sloth Special & Slow

    Im buying pure rice with full grans husk etc, Hard to find , but we have found a few bags .
    We will take one bag to see if it will sprout out & grow. Since Scientists altered food ,, It tastes like CRAP !!
    Mindgrinder likes this.
  5. Mindgrinder

    Mindgrinder Karma Pirate Ninja|RIP 12-25-2017

    Good info....but the "immediate cooling" afterwards will likely deter me from ever putting this into practice. Not crazy aboot rice to begin with...even less so when I have to re-heat it like leftovers. In a survival situation....we'll want every gram of carbs and calories anyway.
    Brokor, T. Riley and CATO like this.
  6. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

    My thoughts exactly. My initial thoughts were "Sure it's healthier . . . because no one will eat it after it's been in the fridge for 24 hours."
    Mindgrinder likes this.
  7. Georgia_Boy

    Georgia_Boy Monkey+++

    Interesting news and coincidental for us as we have been using coconut oil in our cooking lately for the benefits of the coconut oil versus other oils. We have been significant users of olive oils over the years but recently shifted to some cooking with coconut oil.
  8. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    Of course they assume that everyone has access to a fridge.

    Or that they want less calories in their meager food supply.

    Or that they can afford coconut oil that is not tainted or rancid.

    Ever been to a place that had flush toilets, that hadn't flushed in days? I have and I'll never forget it.

    In short, having something and having something that can help you is two different things.
    tulianr, Tully Mars and kellory like this.
  9. T. Riley

    T. Riley Monkey+++

    Thats what I was thinking. That's why We store rice. The cheapest calories you can buy.
  10. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

    My intent of this post wasn't really aimed at prepping and I doubt the authors even know about "preppers." Rather, it was intended to be more in the "Nutrition, Health and Fitness" category. It was an interesting article and I just passed it along for those who eat rice as a part of their regular diet (e.g., @Hanzo ). Obviously, if there was an EMP or a CME, this knowledge would be worthless.
  11. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    Cato what was interesting to me about this article was the flavor similarity components. Swiss cheese, beer and chocolate (in the quiz) all had similar flavor compounds. ewww!

    I'm a really great cook from a family of great cooks and my grandmother always said. "don't cook for flavor, cook for contrasting color and similar texture in a meal and the flavor will take care of itself"

    I have a difference of tastebud opinion than the scientists and this was still a great article. txs for sharing
    Mindgrinder likes this.
  12. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    My reply was not interned to rock your boat. Just that many "Reports" are so one sided and are used as Proof" to a good diet. Good diet means to me a balanced nutritious food source that provides what the Human Body Needs.
    Bad diets, IMO, usually consist of just too much to eat of the wrong things that leave the body hungry and under nourished in Min, Vit, Protein and carbs.
    Ganado likes this.
  13. Mindgrinder

    Mindgrinder Karma Pirate Ninja|RIP 12-25-2017

    Needs moar saffron if u ask me... :)
    Ganado likes this.
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