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The Truth About Rice – Part 2

Jasmine rice with raw rice

In the first part of The Truth About Rice, you discovered the concerning compounds found in rice, as well as how consuming this everyday grain may have a negative impact on blood sugar levels, inflammation and digestion.

By, Kelley Herring

In today’s article, you’ll discover the simple hacks for making rice healthier including:

  • Two simple ways you can dramatically reduce the toxins found in rice
  • The easy technique to make the healthiest (and tastiest) rice
  • Two delicious ways to reduce rice’s impact on your blood sugar (and waistline)
  • PLUS, how to make rice a superfood for your microbiome (while saving time in meal prep!)

Two Culinary Techniques to Reduce Toxins in Rice

In today’s modern world, it’s vital to reduce our body’s toxic burden. And one of the best ways we can lighten our toxic load is with the foods we choose… and the ways we prepare them.

The first way to help reduce the toxins naturally present in rice is simply to rinse it well.

A recent study published in Food Chemistry found that rinsing significantly decreased the levels of pesticides and heavy metals on rice surfaces. Use a ratio of six (6) cups water to one (1) cup rice for optimum residue removal. And remember – every time you rinse your rice with this simple 1-minute method, you’re reducing your body’s exposure to harmful contaminants, which accumulate over time, increasing disease risk.1

The second way to reduce the toxins in rice is to use a pressure cooker.

Study upon study shows the pressure cooker is one of the healthiest ways to prepare your food. Pressure cooking involves using steam and high pressure, which has been shown to alter the chemical composition of rice, specifically when it comes to anti-nutrients and contaminants.

The second way to reduce the toxins in rice is to use a pressure cooker.

Study upon study shows the pressure cooker is one of the healthiest ways to prepare your food. Pressure cooking involves using steam and high pressure, which has been shown to alter the chemical composition of rice, specifically when it comes to anti-nutrients and contaminants.

A study in the Journal of Food Science and Technology investigated the impact of different cooking methods, including pressure cooking, on the reduction of phytic acid in rice. The findings revealed that pressure cooking led to a significant reduction in phytic acid levels compared to other cooking methods. This is important as phytic acid can hinder the absorption of essential minerals, like magnesium and potassium, of which many of us are critically deficient.2

Another study published in the Journal of Food Science, evaluated various cooking methods and their impact on lectin content. The researchers found that pressure cooking resulted in a substantial reduction in lectin levels compared to other cooking methods.3 This cooking hack is especially significant as lectins can have adverse effects on nutrient absorption, as well as harmful digestive and immune effects in certain people.

What’s more, pressure cooking also helps to cut arsenic levels in rice – once again, better than any other cooking method tested! A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that pressure cooking was more effective in reducing arsenic levels than boiling or traditional Asian rice cooking methods.4

Cooking rice in a pressure cooker for 20-25 minutes at high pressure is sufficient to reduce anti-nutrient levels effectively while ensuring the rice is properly cooked. This cooking duration allows for thorough hydration and gelatinization of the rice grains, which not only helps break down anti-nutrients such as lectins and phytic acid, but also promotes the formation of resistant starch (which you’ll learn about in the next section).5

Now that you know how to make your rice “safer” in terms of contaminants and anti-nutrients, let’s talk about its safety as it relates to your blood sugar and insulin levels…

The “Uncarb” in Rice: Maximizing Blood Sugar
+ Microbiome Benefits of Functional Carbohydrates

We often think of rice as a food that increases blood sugar. And as a moderate-to-high glycemic carbohydrate, it does in many people.

But did you know that rice that has been cooked and cooled– like sushi rice – can actually help to stabilize blood sugar and even improve insulin sensitivity?

This is due to a special kind of “functional carbohydrate” called resistant starch (RS) that is formed during the cooling process. I previously coined resistant starch “the uncarb” as it behaves almost completely opposite of the traditional carb counterparts.

Here’s how resistant starch is formed with culinary chemistry and the way it works in the body…

When rice undergoes the process of cooking and cooling, its starch transforms much like a slinky that has been stretched and then allowed to return to its original shape. Initially, the starch molecules in rice are tightly packed, akin to a compressed slinky. However, when rice is cooked and subsequently cooled, the starch molecules undergo a structural change, forming a starch molecule that “resists” digestion.

This transformation is comparable to the elongation and relaxation of a slinky as it returns to its original coiled shape after being stretched. Just as the slinky retains some of its stretched properties even after recoiling, cooled rice maintains a portion of its newly formed resistant starch, which confers various health benefits, namely improved gut health and enhanced insulin sensitivity.

jasmine Rice with bamboo bowl

Resistant starch acts similarly to dietary fiber, resisting digestion in the small intestine and instead fermenting in the colon. During fermentation, unique compounds called short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are produced, which have long been associated with improved insulin sensitivity and reduced risk of insulin resistance.6

A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition investigated the effects of cooled rice on post-meal glucose and insulin responses in healthy individuals. The researchers found that eating cooled rice with meals led to lower post-meal glucose and insulin levels compared to freshly cooked rice, indicating improved insulin sensitivity. The researchers attributed these beneficial effects to the increased resistant starch content in the cooled rice, which slowed the digestion and absorption of carbohydrate.7

A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition investigated the glycemic and insulin impact responses to different types of resistant starch. They found that resistant starch can significantly reduce the glycemic and insulin responses of a meal.8

A large meta-analysis in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition examined the impact of resistant starch on glycemic control. Researchers found that eating resistant starch can be a practical approach for improving glycemic control, particularly in individuals with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes.9

In addition to improved blood sugar metabolism, resistant starch also has powerful effects on gut health. In fact, resistant starch acts as a prebiotic, a substance that promotes the growth of healthy gut bacteria.

A study published in PLoS One investigated the impact of resistant starch on the composition of the gut microbiome. The research demonstrated that resistant starch promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria, such as Bifidobacteria, while inhibiting the growth of potentially harmful bacteria.10

So, maybe you’re wondering: What’s the best way to cook and cool rice to maximize its resistant starch content?

A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition investigated the effects of various cooking and cooling methods on the resistant starch content of rice. The researchers found that freezing cooked rice led to a substantial increase in resistant starch levels compared to freshly cooked rice.11

Because eating rice with higher levels of resistant starch can have a multitude of beneficial effects on health, including improved gut health, enhanced insulin sensitivity, and better blood sugar control, enhancing your rice with this easy “freezer trick” may add both convenience and health benefits to your rice regime.

Now, if you like to enjoy your rice drizzled with olive oil, or a pat of melted grass-fed butter, I have some even better news…

Further Reduce the Glycemic Impact of Rice with These Two Ingredients

Eating carbohydrates with fats is a well-known method for reducing the overall glycemic impact.12

That’s because fat slows down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, leading to a more gradual release of glucose into the bloodstream.

An early study published in the 1987 edition of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition investigated the glycemic response to rice when consumed with different fats, including butter and coconut oil. They discovered that the addition of fats significantly reduced the glycemic response to rice, by slowing down gastric emptying, leading to a slower rise in blood sugar levels.13

The amount of fat that should be added to reduce the glycemic impact of a meal will depend on various factors, including the type of fat used, the amount of carbohydrates in the meal, and of course, individual metabolic and genetic factors.

Research suggests that even small amounts of fat can have a significant impact on reducing the glycemic response to carbohydrates. I aim for about 1 tablespoon of healthy fat – grass-fed butter, ghee, coconut oil, or olive oil – per serving of quick-digesting carbs, like rice, to optimize flavor and nutritional profile.

Another culinary trick to reduce the blood sugar impact? Acid!

Two studies published in European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that adding acidic ingredients – like lemon and vinegar – during the cooking process can increase the overall resistant starch content of rice. This is because acids promote “retrogradation”, the chemical process that leads to the formation of resistant starch.14,15

It’s important to experiment with different amounts of fat and acids to find what works best for you in terms of taste, texture, and glycemic control. If you have concerns about blood sugar control, be sure to consult with a functional nutritionist for personalized guidance on optimizing meal composition for your unique health needs.

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The Healthiest Way to Eat Rice

Often considered a “safe starch”, rice seems to have some distinct advantages over other grains, such as wheat.

With that said, eating rice doesn’t come without its potential risks…

In this article you discovered the importance of choosing the right type of rice, preparing it in a way to minimize anti-nutrients and toxins, and the specific ingredients you can use to balance its typically high glycemic impact.

Here’s a research-backed recipe that puts it all together for preparing the healthiest rice:

The Healthiest Rice Recipe

  1. First, start with a low contaminant rice varietal, such as basmati or jasmine.
  2. Rinse rice well using a ratio of 6 cups filtered water to 1 cup rice. Drain and discard the excess water.’
  3. Pressure cook rice in filtered water according to manufacturer’s instructions and rice varietal specifications. Add lemon juice or vinegar to the cooking water to enhance the amount of resistant starch formed.
  4. Allow rice to cool after cooking.
  5. Place cooled rice into freezer-friendly containers. (I like silicone molds to create perfectly portioned rice, which I then transfer into larger freezer zip-top bags)
  6.  Freeze rice.
  7. Reheat and serve with a healthy fat (grass-fed butter, ghee, coconut oil, olive oil are preferred)

Because rice is a low nutrient density food with potential downsides, it should be enjoyed in moderation (if tolerated), prepared properly, and enjoyed in the context of a nutrient-rich, ancestral diet.

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Here are a few of my favorite meals that include optimized rice:

kelley herring

Kelley Herring

Looking for healthy and delicious, keto-friendly holiday recipes? From sumptuous appetizers… to meltingly- tender meats… comfort- food side dishes… as well as low-carb cocktails and desserts, you’ll find everything you need to bring festive and delicious, low-carb and keto-friendly holiday meals to the table that will delight your family and guests. Grab your copy of Keto Holidays, 100% free.


  1. Zhao, X., Liu, Y., Wang, L., & Zhan, J. (2017). Rinsing rice before cooking: A useful and simple way to reduce arsenic exposure from rice-based food. Food Chemistry, 218, 152-15
  2. Ahmed, S., Rao, A. S., & Yadav, D. N. (2012). Phytic acid and nutrient content of Indian pulses. Journal of Food Science and Technology, 49(6), 662-6
  3. Sharma, A., & Goyal, R. (2017). Effect of soaking and cooking on the lectin content of pulses. Journal of Food Science, 82(9), 2157-2162.
  4. Signes-Pastor, A. J., Deacon, C., Jenkins, R. O., Haris, P. I., & Carbonell-Barrachina, Á. A. (2018). Influence of cooking method on arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury levels in rice. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 66(13), 3397-3405.
  5. Jaminet, P., & Jaminet, S. C. (2012). Perfect Health Diet: Regain Health and Lose Weight by Eating the Way You Were Meant to Eat. Simon and Schuster
  6. Nugent, A. P. (2005). Health properties of resistant starch. Journal of AOAC International, 88(3), 769-774
  7. Behall, K. M., Scholfield, D. J., & Hallfrisch, J. (2006). Diets containing high amylose vs amylopectin starch: effects on metabolic variables in human subjects. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 61(6), 1167-1175.
  8. Haub, M. D., Hubach, K. L., Al-Tamimi, E. K., & Ornelas, S. (2005). Different types of resistant starch elicit different glucose responses in humans. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 59(6), 776-778.
  9. Jenkins, D. J., Kendall, C. W., Augustin, L. S., Mitchell, S., Sahye-Pudaruth, S., Blanco Mejia, S., … & Anderson, J. W. (2016). Effect of legumes as part of a low glycemic index diet on glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes mellitus: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA Internal Medicine, 176(7), 921-930.
  10. Martínez I, Kim J, Duffy PR, Schlegel VL, Walter J. Resistant starches types 2 and 4 have differential effects on the composition of the fecal microbiota in human subjects. PLoS One. 2010 Nov 29;5(11):e15046. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0015046. PMID: 21151493; PMCID: PMC2993935.
  11. Englyst, H. N., Kingman, S. M., & Cummings, J. H. (1992). Classification and measurement of nutritionally important starch fractions. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 46(Suppl 2), S33–S50.
  12. Franz, M. J., Bantle, J. P., Beebe, C. A., Brunzell, J. D., Chiasson, J. L., Garg, A., … & Wheeler, M. (2002). Evidence-based nutrition principles and recommendations for the treatment and prevention of diabetes and related complications. Diabetes Care, 25(1), 148-198.
  13. Jenkins, D. J., Wolever, T. M., Taylor, R. H., Barker, H., Fielden, H., Baldwin, J. M., & Collier, G. R. (1987). Glycemic index of foods: a physiological basis for carbohydrate exchange. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 45(3), 704-714.
  14. Englyst, H. N., Kingman, S. M., & Cummings, J. H. (1992). Classification and measurement of nutritionally important starch fractions. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 46(Suppl 2), S33–S50.
  15. Leeman, M., Ostman, E., & Bjorck, I. (2013). Vinegar dressing and cold storage of potatoes lowers postprandial glycaemic and insulinaemic responses in healthy subjects. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 67(12), 1281–1287.