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Indonesian professor discovers new, healthy breed of rice

An Indonesian professor working at an American university has discovered a new variety of rice that carries a low glycemic load, which many consider to be crucial in the fight against diabetes and obesity.

Herry Utomo, a professor at Louisiana State University's Rice Research Station and his team of researchers made fundamental changes to the rice grain to allow slower digestion of carbohydrates into glucose, making it safe for diabetic people to eat.

"The team of researchers also increased the rice grain's protein content to 50 percent more than the protein content of typical rice," Herry said in a statement.

As a result, the newly invented rice has an average GI index of 41, which was determined based on human clinical trials on cooked white rice.

There are three groups of glycemic ratings for food: low with a glycemic index of 55 or less, medium with a glycemic index of 56-69, and high with a glycemic index of 70 or more.

In general, high carbohydrate food, such as wheat, has an average glycemic index of 74; potatoes, 78; and corn, 55. Rice has an average glycemic index of 73 and, therefore, is categorized as a high glycemic food source.

Given this glycemic index, rice, which is the main staple food in Asia and Indonesia in particular, has been blamed for diabetes and obesity.

Worldwide, more than 463 million people, 9.3 percent of the world's population, suffer from diabetes. In Indonesia, more than 10.7 million people or 6.2 percent of its population have diabetes.

By 2045, the prevalence of diabetes is estimated to rise to 10.2 percent (578 million) by 2030 and 10.9 percent (700 million) by 2045.

"Consumption of lower glycemic foods can help prevent unnecessary snacking and excessive calorie consumption. This makes low glycemic rice an important factor in obesity prevention," Herry said.

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