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Diabetes Diet: Can I Eat Rice?

Ravi was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at the age of 46 years. He is from Karnataka and rice with rasam for lunch is his favorite meal of the day. As his doctor explained the implications of a high carbohydrate diet, Ravi was perplexed with one nagging question ‘can I eat rice, now that I have diabetes’?

Rice is a high glycemic index food but it can be included in a diet that improves overall carbohydrate and insulin metabolism in individuals with diabetes (J B Miller, E Pang, L Bramall; Rice: a high or low glycemic index food?, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 56, Issue 6, 1 December 1992, Pages 1034–1036).

BeatO diabetes educators preach “Yes, you can eat rice if you have diabetes but let us teach you to eat it right.”

The Best Rice For You

India is a nation of diversity which extends itself into varieties of rice grains as well. We are a land of rice and about 6000 varieties are available to us today (The Hindu, April 02, 2012, Mysore).

Brown rice, red rice and white rice are the three commonly eaten variants in India.

With the advancement of grain-processing technology through the refining processes, the outer bran and germ portions of intact rice grains which is the brown rice is removed. This produces white rice.

According to few studies, consumption of white rice indicates a stronger postprandial blood glucose response as measured by the glycemic index (GI) with respect to consumption of the same amount of brown rice.


A noteworthy review mentioned that the mean GI was 64 for white rice and 55 for brown rice. This is a marginal difference making brown rice a better choice of carbohydrate in diabetes meal plan in comparison to white rice.

It has always been observed in cohort studies that higher dietary GI has been consistently associated with elevated risk of type 2 diabetes.

BeatO nutritionists also prefer recommending brown rice to the individuals on diabetic diet plan as it is high on fiber, vitamins, minerals, lignans, phytoestrogens and phytic acid, most of these may be protective factors for diabetes risk. It is observed that the unpolished rice grains contain insoluble fiber that is absent in polished white rice due to refining and milling processes.

A remarkable observation on Asian population study indicated that high intake of white rice was directly associated with a monotonically elevated risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Our collection of data and understanding of several studies made us to conclude that regular consumption of white rice is certainly associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Having said, BeatO diabetes educators will also like to add that replacement of white rice by brown rice or red rice which have lower glycemic index and more nutrition is associated with a lower risk (Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(11):961-969).


Rice Facts From BeatO:

  1. Red Rice is better than brown rice as the former has more antioxidants, more fiber and lesser glycemic index.
  2. Brown rice has more fiber and takes longer to digest so is a better choice than white rice.
  3. Basmati rice is a better choice than Jasmine rice or broken small grain rice as it comparatively has better glycemic index.
  4. While eating white rice always have same amount of salad with it to increase fiber intake.
  5. Rinsing and throwing away of the water does not reduce the starch content of rice. You are actually throwing away all the healthy water soluble vitamins and minerals down the drain.


Hope you enjoyed this blog as much as the teatime read along munchies-bhel. Always remember to add a fist of roasted channa to a fist of mumurra to give it the protein punch. Add chopped onion, coriander leaves and kalonji seeds for extra punch.






Content Support By Tina Khanna

Certified BeatO Diabetes Educator

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