White rice is, by default, what most people eat in their sushi, with their stir-fries, and in their creamy Italian risotto, but switching to brown rice has big benefits: Brown rice has more fiber and a nutritional value than white, and according to research, it even reduces risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Qi Sun, MD, and other researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health say that replacing 50 grams of white rice with brown rice (uncooked), would reduce risk of developing diabetes by 16%, while eating five or more servings of white rice per week is associated with an increased risk of developing the disease.
The researchers analyzed results of three major studies, the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study and the Nurses’ Health Study I and II, which tracked the health and habits of thousands of men and women with questionnaires every four years. They found that people who consumed five or more servings of white rice per week had a 17% higher risk of diabetes than those who ate less than one serving per month. Eating brown rice, on the other hand, showed a reduced risk: Those who ate two or more servings per week had an 11% lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who ate less than one serving per month.
The study also found that white rice eaters were likely to have European ancestry or to smoke, and had a higher incidence of diabetes in their family histories, while eating brown rice was associated with a generally healthier lifestyle.
So should you stop eating your favorite sushi for lunch, and ditch your healthy stir-fries? No, but if you can get brown rice sushi and request that restaurants replace white rice with brown, you’ll be doing your body a favor.