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Chemistry students in Sri Lanka recently demonstrated a way to cook rice that purportedly reduces its caloric value. Their experiment involved adding 1 teaspoon coconut oil to boiling water; once the oil dissolved, they added 1/2 cup rice and simmered it for 40 minutes. The cooked rice was then refrigerated for 12 hours. The supposed result? A drop in the number of calories absorbed by the body. Cooking and cooling starchy foods like rice does cause chemical changes that result in easily digestible starches becoming indigestible, or “resistant starches.”
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The presence of resistant starch does reduce caloric value somewhat – what the body can’t break down through digestion, it can’t absorb as energy (aka calories). By cooking rice this way, you could likely expect a small calorie reduction and a slightly lower glycemic value. Beware, however, that claims of a dramatic drop in calories – 50% or more – have yet to be demonstrated scientifically. The best nutritional strategy for incorporating starchy foods into your diet is to consume them in moderation and to limit portion sizes.