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Rice can be the perfect compliment to almost any meal, but don’t you wish it wasn’t so high in calories?

If you didn’t already know, an average cup of the cooked grain usually contains about 200 of them, most of which come from the starch. Your body then converts that starch into sugar, and if you don’t expel that energy quickly enough, it will be converted into fat. White rice, in particular, has also been associated with a heightened risk of diabetes.

That’s not to say rice is bad for you, per se, but an undergraduate student in Sri Lanka has found a way to cut those calories down by half and make it even healthier. And all it takes is two changes in your normal rice-cooking routine. Here’s what to do:

1. Begin by preparing the rice as you normally would
2. When the water is at a boil, add a little coconut oil (about 3 per cent of the weight of rice being cooked)
3. After it’s done, let the rice sit in the refrigerator for 12 hours

Voila! Your rice has 50 per cent fewer calories now.

So how does adding more fat to the mix actually reduce calories? Well, there are different types of starches, but we’ll only be focusing on two: Digestible starches and resistant starches. Digestible starches are the ones that are worse for our health, because our bodies can quickly convert them into sugar (and then fat). Resistant starches, however, can’t be converted into the sweet stuff because our bodies lack the ability to digest them properly.

New research is beginning to show, however, that it might be possible to change the types of starches in food by modifying the way you prepare them. So the process of adding coconut oil and then letting the rice sit in the fridge helps reduce the amount of digestible starches while maximizing the amount of resistant ones.

“The [coconut] oil interacts with the starch in rice and changes its architecture,” Sudhair James, who recently presented his findings at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, told The Washington Post. “Chilling the rice then helps foster the conversion of starches. The result is a healthier serving, even when you heat it back up.”

Now excuse us while we go buy some coconut oil.

Now that you know how to cook rice with fewer calories, here are some dishes to try: