New research from a department within Harvard University has linked the consumption of white rice with an increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. The Harvard School of Public Health recently stated that each large serving of white rice increased an individual’s risk of contracting the disease by 11 percent. The conclusions were based on studies performed in China, Japan, Australia and the United States.
Type 2 Diabetes is a disease in which tissues become desensitized to insulin created by the pancreas and the body has a harder and harder time controlling blood glucose levels. It is linked with many other dangerous diseases such as kidney failure and retinopathy that are often due to decreased blood flow to important organs.
The researchers were quick to point out that these study results seem to report a stronger correlation for Asian populations than in the West. This is particularly interesting due to the high amount of rice that Asian populations are known to typically consume as part of their regular diet. Asian communities typically eat rice at least three or four times each day, while Western communities eat it much less, on average one to two servings per week.
White rice is the most common type of rice eaten around the world but, compared to brown rice, has a much lower level of many important nutrients. Fiber, vitamins and magnesium are all lower in white rice than brown rice. Fiber and magnesium are thought to be very protective against diabetes.
As with all research studies, there will need to be further experiments done to correlate results. Over 22 years in the four countries, over 350,000 people were followed and 13, 000 developed Type 2 Diabetes. The initial study also took into consideration lifestyle factors and other diet choices that may have influenced the correlation.