Is Brown Rice Good For Diabetes? Glycemic Index

One of the most common questions asked by diabetic individuals is whether brown rice is safe to eat. Brown rice is having a Glycemic Index of 64 and comes in the Medium Glycemic Index foods category. So Brown rice is good for diabetes if taken in moderation, but can lead to blood glucose spikes if consumed in excess.

How good is Brown Rice for Diabetes?

The glycemic index is the measure of how fast food is digested and released into the bloodstream. The faster the food is absorbed, the more will be the rise in blood glucose levels. Therefore, to maintain blood sugar levels within safe limits, foods with a low glycemic index are a must and worth eating.

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Fibers present in brown rice slow down the digestion and absorption process making the release of food into the bloodstream less readily to stabilize blood sugar levels. Always add food rich in fibers along with your meals to ensure no blood sugar spikes after meals. Not only this, fibers avoid the chances of obesity by keeping the check over bodyweight as well.

The medium glycemic value will support you with controlled blood sugar and fibers will not let you turn obese serving you with wonderful dual benefits. Not to forget, obesity increases the complexities of the disease and strict measures must be taken to manage body weight sufficiently.

Vitamin B found in brown rice enhances carbohydrate metabolism. Excess of glucose in the bloodstream can pave the way for digestion-related disorders but fortunately, frequent consumption of brown rice can significantly prevent constipation, acidity and help the body to increase the efficacy of the excretory process.

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Magnesium, a mineral present in a potent amount in brown rice increases the efficiency of enzymes involved in the utilization of glucose by the body. It activates certain enzymes required for insulin secretion and promotes optimal uptake of glucose by the cells.

How to incorporate brown rice into your Diabetic diet?

Brown rice is a very flexible food that will easily become compatible with every dish. In fact, you can replace white rice entirely with brown one in all your preferred dishes and meals.

Rice is the staple diet of people worldwide and is cooked in varied forms. It can be any form upma, poha, string hoppers (sevai), idli, dosa, biryani, and much more. You can have it with salad or eat it with vegetables and pulses. Not to forget the popular pulav which delights everyone.

A pulav is generally a complete meal in itself when garnished with veggies like carrots, cauliflower, potatoes, onion, peas, tomatoes, and all that suits your taste. Use brown rice to make pulav and even toss it into your soups for a healthy turnover. Even a simple khichdi made with brown rice proves to be wholesome food. Switch from unhealthy white pasta to nourishing brown rice pasta.

There are myriad exotic recipes to try with brown rice especially the fried brown rice for diabetes which is the most loved recipe by every diabetic person. This recipe was curated by Diabetes Nutrition specialist Tami Ross with an emphasis on the good health of diabetic people. A yet another fascinating delicacy is spicy cabbage fry with brown rice. The oil recommended for frying purposes is olive oil keeping in mind the additional perks it offers to your health. Combining all three, it becomes a new delicious and healthy meal for your diabetic menu. A blend of beans, avocados stuffed with brown rice can do a lot of wonders to your health in alignment with good taste.

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Brown rice takes a little longer time to cook, up to 40-45 minutes in an open pan or other similar utensils, and takes 10-15 minutes when cooked in pressure cookers. It is probably due to the fibrous nature of its bran layer which is rigid and stronger. The process is more or less similar to the one used for cooking white rice. For cooking simple Brown rice, take a pan filled with two parts of water. Then add one part of soaked flakes of rice to the boiling water. Now turn the flame to medium and cover the lid for 40 minutes. Your healthy rice will be ready.

Brown rice vs White rice in Diabetes

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  • Brown rice is richer in fibers than white rice. As a result, they contribute to well-maintained blood sugar and body weight.
  • Vitamin B6 found in brown rice is known to have supplementary effects on carbohydrate metabolism but vitamins are absent in white rice.
  • White rice has a higher glycemic index than brown rice and therefore not suitable for diabetes.
  • Brown rice is gluten-free. Gluten is a protein that causes allergic responses in the majority of people. These can be stomach pains, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and bloating. White rice is sticky mainly due to the presence of gluten protein.
  • It takes a longer time to cook brown rice.
  • White rice has a greater shelf life than brown rice. This is prominently due to the presence of natural oil in bran which cut short the shelf life of brown rice.
  • White rice lacks thiamin and folates needed as a part of a healthy diabetes routine.
  • White rice comes with plenty of starch which causes a rapid rise in your blood sugar levels but this is not the case with brown rice.

What is the nutritional value of Brown rice?

Every 100 gram of long-grained brown rice contains varied nutritional constituents;

    • Calories – 111
    • Fats – 0.9 g
    • Cholesterol – 0 mg
    • Carbohydrates – 23 g
    • Fibres – 1.8 g
    • Proteins – 2.6 g
    • Sodium – 5 mg
    • Potassium – 43 mg
    • Calcium – 1%
    • Iron – 2%
    • Vitamin B6 – 0.3 mg
    • Magnesium – 78.8 mg
    • Thiamin – 0.4 mg
    • Niacin – 5.2 mg
    • Folates – 18 mcg
    • Phosphorus – 208 mg
    • Zinc – 1.4 mg
    • Selenium – 12 mcg
    • Copper – 0.2 mg
    • Manganese – 2 mg

 Ample researches were performed on men and women between the age of 26-87 years to interpret the effects of brown rice on health in a long term basis. The execution of the experiment began when no one among the chosen people had diabetes. Careful continuous monitoring was done at regular intervals of two years to four to five years. The results conveyed that people who ate white rice increased the chances of developing type 2 diabetes. While the whole ate brown rice daily or thrice a week were found to curtail the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

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Many pieces of research were performed by Harvard and Japanese research institutes arriving at the same conclusion.


Dr Sharon Baisil MD

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