Researchers have detected presence of very high Glycemic Index (GI) in BRRI-28 and BRRI-29, the two popular varieties of rice developed by the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), which pose a threat of diabetes as it causes steep rise in blood sugar.
GI is a scale used to measure how fast carbohydrates in different food items break up and release glucose into the bloodstream. Food items having GI range of 70 and above are considered high GI foods, those between 56 and 69 are considered medium GI foods and those falls below 55 are low GI foods. Glucose has a GI of 100.
The research paper titled "Screening for the nutritionality of rice and low glycemic index Bangladeshi rice varieties" by a senior academic and a researcher from Dhaka University and BRRI have found that the presence of GI in these specific two varieties are 70.5 and 76.3 while the acceptable level of GI in rice is less than 50.
Rice is commonly believed to be a high GI food. However, new research which analyzed 235 varieties of rice from different parts of the world has revealed that most varieties of rice fall in the low to medium GI range. Scientists found that some varieties of rice have a high GI range of 92. On the other hand, there are varieties of rice that have a GI of around 48 as well.
Dhaka University Professor of Bio-Chemistry and atomic science Dr M Jakir Hossain Hawlader and BRRI's Fellow Sunil Kumar Biswas have conducted the study and submitted the report to policymakers for action.
Dr Jakir told the daily Observer that there are many causes of diabetes but the presence of GI in daily food intake is now the parameter of diabetes. Harvard researcher in Archives of Internal Medicine says that white rice poses a diabetes threat because it causes steep rise in blood sugar.
About 11 per cent of our population is diabetic patients and 23 per cent is in the border line and they have diabetic symptoms, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Diabetes Federation.
"We are spending 10 to 15 per cent from our health budget on diabetes, we need to take measure to change our food habits and go for further study in this regard," the professor said.
Harvard researcher in Archives of Internal Medicine says the people are reversing the threat of diabetes by up to 42 percent simply by trading white rice, white bread and sugary breakfast cereal for hearty dark loaves, brown rice and oatmeal. Brown rice and other wholegrain foods are a healthier option as they release glucose more gradually, he added.
The DU teacher said we need to focus on the issue as excess body weight is the number one predisposing factor for type 2 diabetes and Bangladeshi prevalence is 23 per cent of the population aged 20 to79 years has type 2 diabetes, compared to a global average of 8.4 per cent, which roughly coincides with the incidence in Asia Pacific overall.
According to the BRRI, it developed about 76 types of rice varieties, off it 8 types are salt tolerant, 6 are drought resistant, two are flood tolerant, two are zinc-enriched and three varieties are very special for export. However, the country is producing around 3.5 crore tonnes of rice of which 56 per cent comes from BRRI-28 and BRRI 29.