BACKGROUND: Coronary heart disease (CHD) is highly prevalent amongst the South Asian communities in Britain. The reasons for this excess CHD risk are multifactorial, but in part relate to a susceptibility to diabetes mellitus - where the aberrant metabolism of non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) and glucose are likely to underpin vascular disease in this population. Dietary intervention is an important and first line approach to manage increased CHD risk. However, there is limited information on the impact of the South Asian diet on CHD risk.METHODS/DESIGN: The Diabetes Health, Residence & Metabolism in Asians (DHRMA) study is a blinded, randomised, placebo controlled trial that analyses the efficacy of reduced glycaemic index (GI) staples of the South Asian diet, in relation to cardio-metabolic risk factors that are commonly perturbed amongst South Asian populations - primarily glucose, fatty acid and lipoprotein metabolism and central adiposity. Using a 10-week dietary intervention study, 50 healthy South Asians will be randomised to receive either a DHRMA (reduced GI) supply of chapatti (bread), stone ground, high protein wheat flour and white basmati rice (high bran, unpolished) or commercially available (leading brand) versions chapatti wheat flour and basmati rice. Volunteers will be asked to complete a 75g oral glucose tolerance test at baseline and at 10-weeks follow-up, where blood metabolites and hormones, blood pressure and anthropometry will also be assessed in a standardised manner.DISCUSSION: It is anticipated that the information collected from this study help develop healthy diet options specific (but not exclusive) for South Asian ethnic communities.Trial registrationCurrent Controlled Trials ISRCTN02839188.