Scientists Discover Trick to Cut Rice Calories in Half

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Lovers of rice, prepare to buy new pants because your waistline is about to get smaller.

According to a Washington Post story, scientists in Sri Lanka have developed a way to cut down the calories of white rice by up to 50%. It involves a whole lot of science regarding starch, sugar, and the digestive process. I won’t pretend I’m anywhere close to smart enough to explain the glycogen creation process, but I think I somewhat understand what the scientists are doing to cut down on all of those calories. Allow me to (attempt to) explain…

Rice is filled with a type of starch that gets converted to sugar (glucose) as we digest it. Rice is also filled with another type of starch that doesn’t convert to glucose and doesn’t get absorbed into our giant, fat guts. If you can convert the starch that winds up as sugar into the other type of starch, you don’t gain those calories because you’re not digesting them. That’s exactly what Sudhair James and Dr. Pushparajah Thavarajva of the University of Sri Lanka have figured out.

By adding a small amount of coconut oil (3% of the rice weight) to the water used to boil raw rice and then cooling the rice for twelve hours, the researchers found that they were able to strip the rice of a serious amount of calories by converting one type of starch into the other. I have no idea how that works, but apparently it does.

This is great news for pretty much everyone. Since rice is consumed at a massive clip basically everywhere in the world, this could cut down on obesity in the world by a tremendous amount — assuming it’s a method that gets adopted by rice cookers the world over.

So many flights heading to Asia and elsewhere feature rice on their in-flight menus. I wonder if the caloric savings would be enough for any airlines to swap out their own white rice recipe for this new cooking method. It certainly adds time to the process, but if flyers demand this new “Diet Rice,” I could see it becoming a staple on flights worldwide. In the meantime, it may just help those of us looking to lose a few pounds without sacrificing rice from our meal plans.

No matter what, I’m buying new pants.

Photo:Attribution Some rights reserved by cookbookman17


  1. How about this other trick? Um, eat half as much. So many fat-a@s# walking around and then they wonder how they got fat.

  2. That’s well and good for us overweight Americans but most of the world eats rice precisely because these are the only calories they are consuming.

    • I was waiting for someone to make this point. I thought the same thing, Michael, but the more I considered it, the more I realized that it most likely is not going to affect that live on rice for the majority of their daily caloric intake. If you’re living well below the poverty line and rice is your only option, there’s a very tiny chance that you’d waste whatever source of fat you have (oil, butter, etc.) to decrease your rice’s calorie count. Basically, I think for those with greater resources, it’ll change things for the better and for those with less, it won’t change anything at all.

      • But you specifically said that this is good news for people all over the world! It would’ve been good if you phrased it as directed toward people interested in cutting calories. But you didn’t. You specifically framed it as good for people all over the world,which it is not.

  3. Actually, he said “lovers of rice…” And “this is good news for PRETTY MUCH everyone. No need to get upset just because you’re not a member of “pretty much.”

    • So… The majority of people who eat rice in the world don’t need more calories? Yeah, that’s totally correct and reflects rates of malnutrition in the world. And nice name, making fun of a sincere issue such as people dying of starvation.

  4. Now if they could just figure out how to do this for chocolate cake with chocolate icing, I would be a happy lady.

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