Replacing white rice with brown rice and wholemeal bread could cut the risk of Type 2 diabetes by a third, US researchers claim.
Harvard researchers say that white rice increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes because it causes steep rises in blood glucose levels. They claim that brown rice and other wholegrain foods are a healthier option as they release glucose more gradually.
The study of nearly 200,000 people found that white rice consumption could be linked to Type 2 diabetes. After adjusting for age and other diabetes risk factors, those who ate five or more 150g servings of white rice per week had a 17% increased risk of Type 2 diabetes compared with people who consumed less than one serving – about a cup of rice – per month.
Dr Victoria King, Research Manager at Diabetes UK, said: "We already know Type 2 diabetes is strongly linked to an unhealthy lifestyle, which means that many cases could be prevented. However, this study does not prove that changing your lifestyle by eating more brown rice protects against Type 2 diabetes.
"The way the results of this study are communicated is slightly misleading. It claims to look at how substituting brown rice for white rice in the diet affects the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, when it actually compares people who eat more brown rice with those who eat white rice and their risk of Type 2 diabetes. As the results are from self-reported food diaries and questionnaires, the researchers cannot make conclusive recommendations on how much of certain foods, such as brown rice, protect against Type 2 diabetes at this stage.
"The best way to prevent Type 2 diabetes is by keeping active and eating a healthy balanced diet that is low in fat, salt and sugar with plenty of fruit and vegetables."