A method of cooking rice to cut calories. Really?



Back in March 2015, many major media organisations were reporting on a rice cooking method which would reportedly
reduce calories of rice by “up to 50 percent”. This was based on the presentation of a scientific abstract at the 2015 American Chemical Society.

James S, et al. New low-calorie rice could help cut rising obesity rates. 249th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). 2015. 

The recipe is as follows

Add a half cup of uncooked rice to boiling water with a teaspoon of coconut oil. Let the rice simmer for 40 minutes and then refrigerate the rice for 12 hours.

The underlying principle of the recipe is that heating and cooling digestible starches can change their chemical composition to a fiber-like, hard-to-digest so-called “resistant starch.” Resistant starch is a starch that is largely unaffected by human digestive enzymes. As a result, it is unable to be digested and thus we cannot extract energy or calories from it.

However the original research was only a scientific abstract. It was not a published study in a peer-reviewed publication where its methods and findings were subject to the scrutiny of others. Although it has not been outright disproved (and there has been no peer-reviewed research paper produced since), it would be highly unlikely that this recipe (after so much media attention) truly cuts calories to the extent stated.

This is an example of science research that is geared towards generating headlines rather than hard experimental data, The significance of moderate preliminary results were far overblown in the media release.

In fact the media generally reported a “50-60% reduction in calories” which was merely speculated, not proven. The original abstract actually reports a much more modest 10-12% reduction in calories. Hardly enough to cut ‘rising obesity rates’ of the world’s population.

I would suggest that a more effective method of reducing 10-12% calories from your rice would be to eat 10-12% less rice.

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