Scientists have established a new way to cook rice, which reduces the number of calories by at least half with the use of coconut oil--and this could subsequently shrink obesity rates.

The 249th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), held in March, welcomed the new cooking method, alongside nearly 11,000 other reports on advancements in science and other topics. The research was one of many reports to comprehensively address the reduction of obesity, by offering food-based solutions.

Arroz con pollo could not be possible without the world's favorite staple food, rice. Latino homes thrive on the frequently inexpensive grain, which is one of the base ingredients for countless key dishes in many nations. Unfortunately, starchy carbohydrates, like rice, have 240 calories per cup. The new heating and cooking regimen, whereby scientists increased rice resistant starch (RS) concentrations, produces a calorie reduction of 50-60 percent.

According to Sudhair A. James, a team leader at the College of Chemical Sciences, Colombo, Western, Sri Lanka, starch can be digestible and indigestible. RS isn't broken down in the small intestines, where carbs are metabolized into glucose and non-complex sugars to be absorbed into the bloodstream. Scientist found that transforming digestible starch into RS could lower calories, and rid rice of unusable calories.

The researchers experimented with nearly 40 types of rice from Sri Lanka as they developed the new cooking regimen. By adding one teaspoon of coconut oil to boiling water, then a half of cup for a 20-25 minute cook, followed by a 12-hour refrigeration session, this changes the resistant starch. The RS for traditional, non-fortified rice is increased ten-fold.

This works because the coconut oil enters the soluble part of starch during the cooking process and changes its resistance to digestive enzymes, resulting in fewer calories. The next steps for the researchers are to learn which types of rice are best suited for calorie reduction, and which oils best benefit this process.