Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Combating obesity with new Okinawan rice

Date:
March 27, 2014
Source:
Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology - OIST
Summary:
In recent years, Okinawa has recorded the dubious distinction of having the highest obesity rate in Japan. Preventing obesity-related diseases is an urgent issue. A new research project has been launched to develop a new strain of rice that produces digestion-resistant starch to prevent these diseases. The project involves three activities by the medical, agricultural, and food industries: development of the new rice strain, nutritional and physiological analyses, and processing and sales.

Rice with digestive-resistant starch grown in Nago.
Credit: Image courtesy of Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology - OIST

In recent years, Okinawa has recorded the dubious distinction of having the highest obesity rate in Japan. Preventing obesity-related diseases is an urgent issue. Professor Hidetoshi Saze of the OIST Plant Epigenetics Unit is leading a new research project to develop a new strain of rice that produces digestion-resistant starch to prevent these diseases. The project, fostered by the Okinawan government, involves three activities by the medical, agricultural, and food industries: development of the new rice strain, nutritional and physiological analyses, and processing and sales.

Nanshoka-Mai, or rice with digestion-resistant starch is a new breed of rice rich in starch that does not as readily break down into glucose. This rice strain was first developed by a research team at Kyushu University 30 years ago. The starch from most grains, which consist largely of an unbranched glucose polymer known as amylose, is normally broken down into glucose during the digestive process and serves as our primary energy source. However, excessive consumption of sugars (simple carbohydrates) can cause life-style-related diseases, such as obesity and diabetes. This new strain of rice is expected to serve as an alternative preventative measure. In addition to its anti-obesity effect, gathering evidence suggests that the rice with digestion-resistant starch may also provide other benefits, such as lower blood sugar levels, reduced neutral fat, and harmful cholesterol levels, and prevention of lipid accumulation in the liver.

Despite its great promise, when researchers planted the original strain of resistant-starch rice in Okinawa, the yield per hectare was about half that achieved in mainland Japan. Prof. Saze and his team then started hybridizing the resistant-starch rice with local strains to genetically design a new strain of rice suited to Okinawa's climate. Using OIST's next-generation sequencing machines, Prof. Saze is analyzing genomes of these rice strains. He is also using plant incubators in his unit to shorten the vegetation period of the new rice. It is important to obtain the support of rice producers in Okinawa by demonstrating a clear economic, as well as health benefits of the resistant-starch rice. "The resistant-starch rice can be used in many food products. I hope that our project will improve people's health," said Prof. Saze.

In order to assess the effects of the resistant-starch rice, the project also involves medical and physiological studies by the University of the Ryukyus, Osaka Prefectural University, and Ishikawa Prefectural University. Moreover, some local companies are working together to develop processed foods with rice powder produced from the resistant-starch rice. Whether they are staples or regional specialities, in the near future, we may be able to see many more healthy local products on store shelves.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology - OIST. The original article was written by Mayumi Nishioka. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology - OIST. "Combating obesity with new Okinawan rice." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140327100326.htm>.
Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology - OIST. (2014, March 27). Combating obesity with new Okinawan rice. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140327100326.htm
Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology - OIST. "Combating obesity with new Okinawan rice." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140327100326.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
California University Designs Sustainable Winery

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) Amid California's worst drought in decades, scientists at UC Davis design a sustainable winery that includes a water recycling system. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Argentina Worries Over Decline of Soybean Prices

Argentina Worries Over Decline of Soybean Prices

AFP (Sep. 27, 2014) The drop in price of soy on the international market is a cause for concern in Argentina, as soybean exports are a major source of income for Latin America's third largest economy. Duration: 01:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mama Bear, Cubs Hang out in California Backyard

Mama Bear, Cubs Hang out in California Backyard

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) A mama bear and her two cubs climb trees, wrestle and take naps in the backyard of a Monrovia, California home. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins