New study finds many rice varieties are low-to-medium GI

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 10th July 2012

New research from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has found that rice can help maintain a healthy, low glycemic index (GI) diet, even for diabetes sufferers.

The study was published in a recent issue of online peer-reviewed biomedical science journal, Rice.

GI is a measure of the relative ability of carbohydrates in foods to raise blood sugar levels after eating. Dr Melissa Fitzgerald, who led the IRRI team, said, “Understanding that different types of rice have different GI values allows rice consumers to make informed choices about the sort of rice they want to eat.”

The study found that most varieties of rice have a low-to-medium GI score. Researcher analysed 235 types of rice from around the world and discovered that the GI of rice ranges from a low of 48 to a high of 92, with an average of 64. Low-GI foods are those measured at 55 or less. Foods with a score between 58 and 69 are considered medium GI, while high-GI foods measure 70 and above.

Low-GI rice varieties include India’s most widely grown variety, Swarna. Australian Doongara and Basmati are medium-GI rices.

During the study, researchers also managed to identify the key gene that determines the GI of rice. This new discovery will offer rice breeders the opportunity to develop varieties with different GI levels. Future developments of low-GI rice could enable food manufacturers to make innovative low-GI food products based on rice.

Dr Tony Bird, CSIRO Food Futures Flagship researcher, said that low-GI diets can reduce the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, and also enable diabetics to better manage their condition.

FoodLegal Symposium

Dr Lynne Cobiac, the newly appointed head of the CSIRO Preventative Health Flagship, will be speaking about food claims of the future at the upcoming FoodLegal Symposium on 21 August 2012.  Registration online is available here.

The full CSIRO and IRRI study may be read here.