Development of more nutritious rice types.

Dr Alison Lovegrove
Rothamsted Research
New types of rice in which high energy content is combined with low GI, high fibre and micronutrients.

Rice is mainly consumed after polishing to remove the outer nutritious layer (bran) and germ. Consequently, white rice comprises over 90% starch with only low contents of protein, dietary fibre and micronutrients. It is therefore mainly a source of energy in the diet and, because it is rapidly digested in the human gastro-intestinal tract, has a high glycaemic index (GI). The consumption of foods with a high content of rapidly digested carbohydrates and low content of dietary fibre (DF) is associated with increased risks of a range of chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes, CVD and some types of cancer. Furthermore, the incidence of these conditions are increasing dramatically in areas where rice is the staple food, notably SE Asia, India and China. Therefore, it is necessary to develop new types of rice in which high energy content is combined with low GI and high contents of DF and micronutrients. The research project ‘EnRicH’ with partners in the Philippines (International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Department of Agriculture Phil Rice (DA-PhilRice) have carried out detailed analyses of grain composition in diverse rice genotypes to identify lines with altered levels of resistant starch and dietary fibre. We are in the process of linking these to GI measurements and organoleptic properties to identify lines that can be taken forward into national rice breeding programmes in the Philippines.