Should you be eating Cold Rice?

can we eat cold rice

Rice is one of the oldest and most popular food worldwide. People consume it in many ways. Some have them as a part of their dishes, some have it as their sole food along with curd. Rice is most popular in Asian, African, and Latin American countries.

Now let us come to the main point of concern.

Are there really any benefits of having Cold Rice?

Cold rice has a greater resistant amount of starch than freshly cooked rice. Starch resistant is a type of fibre that your body cannot digest. Still, it can be fermented by the bacteria in your gut, and it serves as a prebiotic, or food for the bacteria.

A particular type of resistant starch is called retrograded starch and is used in cooked and refrigerated starchy foods. Reheated rice actually appears to have the highest amounts.

The fermentation process produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which power the appetite by affecting two hormones — glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and peptide YY (PYY). Because of their association with increased insulin sensitivity and decreased abdominal fat they are also known as antidiabetic and anti-obesity hormones.

One study in 15 healthy adults found that eating cooked white rice that had been cooled for 24 hours at 39°F (4°C) and then reheated significantly reduced blood sugar levels after the meal, compared with the control group.

Additionally, a study in rats who were fed retrograded rice powder determined that it considerably improved blood cholesterol levels and gut health, compared with a control group.

Despite these findings seemingly promising, however, further human studies are needed to confirm these effects.

Are there any Risks involved in eating Cold Rice?

Eating cold or reheated rice increases your risk of Bacillus cereus food poisoning which can cause abdominal cramps, diarrhea, or vomiting within 15–30 minutes of ingestion. Bacillus cereus is a bacterium that can contaminate raw rice, typically found in soils. It has the ability to form spores which act as a shield and enable cooking to survive. Thus, even after cooking at high temperatures cold rice may still be contaminated. The issue with cold or reheated rice, however, isn’t bacteria, but how the rice was cooled or stored.

Pathogenic or disease causing bacteria, such as Bacillus cereus, are rapidly growing at temperatures between 40–140 ° F (4–60 ° C), a range known as the hazard zone.

While anyone who eats infected rice can get food poisoning, those with weakened or poor immune systems, such as infants, older adults or pregnant women, may have an increased risk of infection.

How to Eat Cold Rice Safely

Since cooking does not remove the spores of Bacillus cereus, some claim you should treat cooked rice close to how you would handle any perishable food. Here are a few important guidelines to follow on how to treat and store rice safely.

  • Cool it within 1 hour to cool freshly cooked rice, by separating it into several shallow containers. Place the containers in an ice or cold bath of water to speed up the process.
  • Place the leftovers in airtight containers to refrigerate. Avoid stacking them to allow sufficient airflow around them and ensure quick refreshment.
  • The remaining rice should not be left over for more than 2 hours at room temperature. If so, then throwing it away is safe. 
  • Care should be taken to refrigerate the rice below 41oF (5oC) to prevent spore formation. 
  • You can refrigerate your rice for up to 3–4 days.
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