New "designer" rice could prevent diabetes, cancer and obesity: Aust'n study

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 MELBOURNE, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- Australian researchers have discovered a way to genetically engineer rice which would provide significant health benefits to more than half the world's population.

A study undertaken at the University of Tasmania, published in respected journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, discovered a method to increase the resistant starch content in rice, making it more digestible and leading to lower rates of diabetes and obesity.

Steven Smith, the lead author of the study and a foreign expert for the Chinese Government who has been appointed to work on crop improvement projects by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said increasing the higher resistant starch content gave this "designer" rice many added health benefits.

"We have discovered that we can increase the amount of resistant starch in cooked rice, which could provide health benefits for a large number of people in Asia and beyond," Smith said in a media release on Friday.

"The same approach can be adapted for use in other cereals, including wheat. Not only can it have benefits for diabetes and obesity, but also for disorders of the bowel including cancer."

Rice is the staple for more than half the world's population, providing much of the world with most of their calories.

Smith said that as the rate of diabetes and obesity in Asian countries continued to grow, his "designer" rice could provide a way to limit health problems.

He said starch was a complex carbohydrate made up only of glucose, a naturally occurring sugar, which can provide a "sugar hit" if digested too rapidly.

"Not only does resistant starch reduce the likelihood of a 'sugar hit' but it also reduces the appetite and promotes the growth of the healthy microbes," Smith said.

Smith splits his time between the University of Tasmania and his research lab in Beijing where he hopes to make significant advances in sustainable living.

Source: Xinhuanet

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