Can Chilling Your Rice Cut Calories in Half?

Scientists announce a new way of cooking rice that could reduce calories by up to 60%.  But this method may also increase your risk of food poisoning if you're not careful. Nutrition Diva reports.

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
4-minute read
Episode #328

Improperly Cooled Rice Carries Food Poisoning Risk

In discussing this research on the Nutrition Diva Facebook page last week, I learned something new from the smart folks who congregate there. Uncooked rice can harbor spores of Bacillus cereus. These critters are heat resistant and are not killed by normal cooking. This is not a problem if you eat the cooked rice immediately. But if cooked rice is left to sit at room temperature for a few hours, these spores can grow into bacteria and multiply. These bacteria and the toxins they create can cause nausea and diarrhea.

See also: Why do I Get Food Poisoning When Others Don’t?


I have to admit that I've been improperly handling rice for my entire life - letting it slowly cool to room temperature in the pot before refrigerating leftovers - and have somehow lived to tell the tale. Indeed, food poisoning caused by Bacillus cereus is not very common; it's responsible for only 2-5% of all cases of food poisoning. And, although unpleasant, it's rarely severe enough to be life-threatening. 

Nonetheless, I'm grateful to those Nutrition Diva listeners for educating me about this risk and I'll be more careful from now on. The best way to cool hot rice is to spread it in a shallow pan, such as a casserole or baking sheet, where it will cool more quickly. As soon as it is luke warm (which shouldn't take more than 5-10 minutes), pack it into an air-tight container and keep it in the fridge or freezer until you're ready to eat it. 

Bottom line: Adding a bit of oil to the cooking water and chilling your rice before eating (or reheating) it can boost the amount of resistant starch it contains. But I wouldn't count on more than a modest impact.

In other words, don't start doubling your portion sizes on the grounds that the calories have been cut in half - because they probably haven't. And make sure to chill that rice quickly in order to minimize the chances of illness.

Have you tried this cooling method of preparing rice? Share your thoughts with us in Comments below or on the Nutrition Diva Facebook page.


About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.