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New rice cooking method can help tackle obesity

New York March 24 (IANS) Are you avoiding rice to control your weight? You may soon get to relish your favourite rice delicacies as introducing a little change in cooking methods can cut calorie content by half, researchers say.

Scientists from Sri Lanka have found that adding a teaspoon of coconut oil while cooking and refrigerating it for 12 hours after it is cooked more than halves the number of calories absorbed by the body. They added that reheating the rice does not alter the benefits.

The findings were presented at the 249th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Denver.

“Because obesity is a growing health problem, especially in many developing countries, we wanted to find food-based solutions,” said team leader Sudhair James from College of Chemical Sciences, Colombo, Western, Sri Lanka.

“We discovered that increasing rice resistant starch (RS) concentrations was a novel way to approach the problem,” James added.

By using a specific heating and cooking regimen, the scientists concluded that “if the best rice variety is processed, it might reduce the calories by about 50-60 percent”.

He explained that starch can be digestible or indigestible. Starch is a component of rice, and it has both types. Unlike digestible types of starch, RS is not broken down in the small intestine, where carbohydrates normally are metabolised into glucose and other simple sugars and absorbed into the bloodstream.

Thus, the researchers reasoned that if they could transform digestible starch into RS, then that could lower the number of usable calories of the rice.

The team experimented with 38 kinds of rice from Sri Lanka, developing a new way of cooking rice that increased the RS content.

In this method, they added a teaspoon of coconut oil to boiling water. Then, they added a half a cup of rice.

They simmered this for 40 minutes, but one could boil it for 20-25 minutes instead, the researchers noted.

Then, they refrigerated it for 12 hours. This procedure increased the RS by 10 times for traditional, non-fortified rice, they added.

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