Is Brown Rice Good For Diabetes?

People with ongoing diabetes or pre-diabetes need to be ultra conscious regarding their diet and healthcare. Before eating anything whose nutritional value is unknown, a diabetic person usually has a second thought about whether to go forward and eat it or avoid it for the sake of their good health.

Similarly, one of the most common dilemmas of diabetic people is that is brown rice good for diabetes?“. If yes, then in what sense is brown rice superior to common white rice and in what ways it can prove beneficial to people suffering from diabetes. This is exactly going to be the center of today’s article.

How Brown rice is different from white rice

Literally, every white rice kernel we see today was once a brown rice before it had undergone some industrial process. Although both brown rice, as well as white rice, have nearly similar calorific values and carbohydrate amounts but yet brown rice surpasses the white rice in terms of more enriched nutritional composition. Brown rice is the whole grain rice with only outermost husk layer removed from it keeping the inner bran and germ layers intact. Among all three, the germ layer is innermost and the most nutritious of all.

On the other hand, white rice loses all three layers – husk, bran and germ while undergoing through a process of polishing. This is the reason white rice is termed as refined grain and not whole grain. Further, polishing detaches the protein-rich aleurone layer which contains essential fats and nutrients. So, in a way white rice is just brown rice with bran and germ layer detached making it less favorable for a healthy diet. White rice eventually loses all the health benefits after going through the series of processing but these remarkable benefits are however are retained in healthier brown rice.

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Brown rice as a healthy meal enveloped with vast nutrients

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.

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

How good is brown rice for diabetes

The most important thing to cherish about brown rice is that it has a low glycemic index with high fiber input and this makes the most beneficial combination ever for any and every diabetic person.

The glycemic index is the measure of how fast food is digested and released in 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 low glycemic index are a must and worth eating.

Fibers present in brown rice slow down the digestion and absorption process making the release of food into bloodstream less readily to stabilize blood sugar levels. Always add a 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 low 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.

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.

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What else to know about

Diabetes can be the root cause of acquiring many other diseases. Likewise, several other diseases, if not managed properly, can lead to diabetes. To illustrate a bit, high cholesterol and high blood pressure can be in close proximity to diabetes. A person with high blood pressure has greater chances of falling prone to diabetes in the long term. A person with prolonged diabetes is most likely to develop various cardiovascular disorders.

Brown rice comes with multifarious properties that can help in the successful prevention and monitoring of a wide array of diseases. Selenium present in it aids to thyroid glands and boost up the immunity. Powerful phytochemicals reduce the risk of cancer. Manganese possess antioxidants and support the functions of mitochondria in the generation of energy-rich ATP molecules.

Our body needs iron for better blood circulation which is too provided through this rice. Those natural oils present in the bran of brown rice lessen their shelf life but they also impart a cholesterol-lowering ability to it, metabolizing both glucose and lipids optimally. Apart from this, considerable amounts of niacin and folates are reviving solutions to cardiovascular malfunctioning and keeps away the circumstances for heart strokes.

The only threat imposed on our health linked with the eating of brown rice is due to arsenic contamination in its grains. Although the amount is quite low but the situation can become fatal if arsenic gets accumulated in the brain. More researches are required at this point in time to reveal the complete truth about this fact and find suitable alternatives to cope up with the problem.

Brown rice vs White rice

  • Brown rice is richer in fibers than white rice. As a result, they contribute towards 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 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.

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How to incorporate brown rice to your 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 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.

Brown rice takes a little longer time to cook, up to 40-45 minutes in open pan or other similar utensils and takes 10-15 minutes when cooked in pressure cookers. It is probably due to fibrous nature if it’s 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.

Concluding words

Diabetes is taking its possession at an alarming rate with 69 million people fighting with the disease in India. The number of people diagnosed with prediabetes accounts for an average of 72 million. It is justifiably said that ” prevention is better than cure.” A complete awareness regarding lifestyle and food for the prevention of diabetes is a must.

As we have seen, brown rice is indeed a good option to choose for diabetes routine. Brown rice is rightfully included in the list of world’s healthiest foods. It can fairly help the people who are just on the verge of developing diabetes and also benefit the people fighting with the disease from years. The rice is very convenient to be included in the nutriment and can be taken with other regular meals. Being loaded with minerals, fibers, vitamins, and natural oils they help you a long way in getting control over your elevated blood sugar levels with no apparent side effects. Unlike white rice, they sustain initial bran and germ layers which is dominantly responsible for innumerable advantages they infer.

Arsenic contamination remains the topic of concern but no substantial cases of such kind have been reported to date and brown rice is considered safe to a highly appreciable extent. The advantages are not only limited to diabetes but also expanded to other prevalent diseases such as hypertension, high cholesterol, heart strokes, and cancer. All these attributes make it an extremely considerable food for diabetes management and other critical health issues.

Dr Sharon Baisil MD
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