Boston researchers followed more than 197,000 US adults for up to 22 years and found that eating more refined white rice was associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, while eating more brown rice was associated with a lower risk of the disease.
The Boston team assessed rice intake and diabetes risk among nearly 40,000 men and more than 157,000 women in three long-running studies of doctors and nurses. Altogether, 10,507 people developed type 2 diabetes during follow up.
Across all three studies, having more white rice in the diet was associated with an elevated risk of type 2 diabetes.
When researchers pooled the data and took into account various diet and lifestyle factors that might influence the results, the doctors and nurses who ate the most white rice, at least 5 servings per week had a significant 17 percent higher risk of developing diabetes than those who ate the least white rice, less than 1 serving a month.
In contrast, eating 2 or more servings of brown rice each week, as opposed to less than 1 serving a month, was associated with an 11 percent reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Again, this was after accounting for other diet and lifestyle factors that might influence the results.
Researchers estimate that replacing one third of a serving of white rice daily with the same amount of brown rice could lower a person's risk of getting type 2 diabetes by 16 percent.
They further estimate that replacing white rice with whole grains could be associated with a risk reduction as great as 36 percent.
The findings aren't entirely surprising, whole grains are often linked to a lower risk diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancers. The findings were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Canada's Food Guide recommends making at least half of your grain products whole grain each day.
Wondering how to make the switch to brown rice, and other whole grains such as barley and quinoa? Click here to learn more about Leslie Beck's book Foods That Fight Disease; it includes preparation advice for a variety of whole grains and more than 100 easy-to-prepare healthy recipes.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.