Blame the starch.

Rice, as far as side dishes go, seems healthy enough. But if you’re on a diet, adding 200 calories from a cup of white rice to the rest of a meal can tip the scale in the wrong direction. The rub: a lot of these calories come from the starch in the rice.

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In rice, there are two types of starch, one the body can digest, and one that is resistant. Since the body has trouble digesting resistant starch (hence the “resistant” designation), it isn’t transformed into sugar and absorbed into the bloodstream like digestible starch. This means that there are fewer calories in resistant starch.

Therefore, as far as keeping your calorie count low, resistant starch is good.

As detailed by Time, the College of Chemical Science in Sri Lanka wanted to figure out a way to change digestible starch — which adds calories — to resistant starch — which adds few calories. Their research, revealed at the American Chemical Society’s national meeting, is promising.

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It showed that you can drastically cut the calories in rice with coconut oil. By adding the oil to a pan of boiling water and rice, then refrigerating it for half a day, researchers were able to increase the resistant starch in rice by 10, meaning that the rice had 50-60% fewer calories.

The oil and cold of the refrigerator combine to help rearrange the molecules into tighter bonds, making them more resistant to digestion.

Science! Pretty darn cool, right?

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