Rice is an important staple food for more than half of the world's population. Especially in Asian countries, rice is a major contributor to dietary glycaemic load (GL). Sustained consumption of higher-GL diets has been implicated in the development of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes mellitus. Given that a reduction in postprandial glycaemic and insulinaemic responses is generally seen as a beneficial dietary change, it is useful to determine the variation in the range of postprandial glucose (PPG) and insulin (PPI) responses to rice and the primary intrinsic and processing factors known to affect such responses. Therefore, we identified relevant original research articles on glycaemic response to rice through a systematic search of the literature in Scopus, Medline and SciFinder databases up to July 2014. Based on a glucose reference value of 100, the observed glycaemic index values for rice varieties ranged from 48 to 93, while the insulinaemic index ranged from 39 to 95. There are three main factors that appear to explain most of the variation in glycaemic and insulinaemic responses to rice: (1) inherent starch characteristics (amylose:amylopectin ratio and rice cultivar); (2) post-harvest processing (particularly parboiling); (3) consumer processing (cooking, storage and reheating). The milling process shows a clear effect when compared at identical cooking times, with brown rice always producing a lower PPG and PPI response than white rice. However, at longer cooking times normally used for the preparation of brown rice, smaller and inconsistent differences are observed between brown and white rice.
Keywords: Blood glucose; Glycaemic index; Insulin; Processing; Rice; Starch.