Scientists from the College of Chemical Sciences in Sri Lanka have figured out a way to make the starchy stuff less high in calories. And the best part? It’s totally simple to do at home:
Add a little coconut oil to the cooking process, then let it cool.
According to research presented at the American Chemical Society’s national meeting, these two steps can reduce the calories in the dish by up to 60 per cent.
“Because obesity is a growing health problem, especially in many developing countries, we wanted to find food-based solutions,” Sudhair A. James, the study’s team leader explained.
“We discovered that increasing rice resistant starch (RS) concentrations was a novel way to approach the problem.”
So, how does such a tiny step – that involves fat, no less – make it healthier?
Put simply, when rice begins to cook, its glucose molecules form tight bonds (aka, resistant starch.) As its name implies, this type of starch isn’t easily digested, meaning our bodies can’t absorb as many calories or as much of the glucose from each molecule.
“The cooling is essential because amylose, the soluble part of the starch, leaves the granules during gelatinisation,” James continued. “Cooling for 12 hours will lead to formation of hydrogen bonds between the amylose molecules outside the rice grains which also turns it into a resistant starch.”
Plus, when you add a teaspoon of coconut oil to the boiling water, the fat molecules find their way into the rice, doubling as a digestion barrier.
“After your body converts carbohydrates into glucose, any leftover fuel gest converted into a polysaccharide carbohydrate called glycogen,” James added.
“Your liver and muscles store glycogen for energy and quickly turn it back into glucose as needed. The issue is that the excess glucose that doesn’t get converted to glycogen ends up turning into fat, which can lead to excessive weight or obesity.”
And great news: this method works for leftovers too – the research team found that reheating the rice didn’t change the levels of resistant starch (as it the case with pasta and potatoes.)