Red Rice Glycemic Index – Is It Safe for Diabetes?

If you are looking for promising alternatives to white rice, red rice has the chance to take over.

The low glycemic index value of red rice makes it suitable for use in many diseases including diabetes.

The main aspect that we will be dealing with this article, is red rice safe for diabetes based on its glycemic index data.

Rice is the prime source of carbohydrates so it shouldn’t be skipped entirely. The wittiness lies in replacing rice with diabetes-friendly varieties rather than quitting.

Quick Summary of Red Rice

Scientific name – Oryza punctata 

Places of origin – Africa and Madagascar

Dimensions – 3-4 mm in length and 1-2 mm wide

Color variation – red, dark red, light red, pinkish-red

Calories – 400 kcal per 100 grams

Taste – nutty and delicious

Nutrients – carbs, fibers, proteins, iron, zinc, fats, and potassium

Benefits – weight-loss, diabetes control, stronger bones, fights asthma, lower heart and cancer diseases, and eliminate harmful free radicals

What is Red Rice?

One of the best remedies produced by nature with innumerable medicinal properties. We are talking about the core topic of this article – Red Rice.

Red rice is a russet colored variety with healthier grains. The red color is imparted to these grains by a pigment called anthocyanin.

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Nature has nurtured red rice with a plethora of health benefits. The nutrient-rich grains acquire the nutty flavor that adds to the taste of vegetables and non-veg dishes as well.

Red yeast rice is a special variety produced from a specie of mold after fermentation.

Nutritional Profile of Red Rice

Every 100 grams of red rice are likely to contain;

Nutritional Profile of Red Rice

Nutrients Amount
carbohydrate 86g
fats 5g
proteins 7g
fibers 3g
water 1.8g
iron 6mg
zinc 4mg
potassium 256mg
sodium 6mg

A Brief History of Red Rice

The production of red yeast rice dates to the ancient Chinese culture of making medicines out of it. Hence, one thing is clear, the medicinal potential of red rice was known to people for a long time.

To cultivate this rice variety, Chinese people used to the hull and polish rice grains and then place them in an environment of molds. These molds resulted in the formation of red coating over the rice grains.

Besides the medicinal purpose, it was also utilized for food coloring. A rich red color that oozes out of the rice after it is cooked uplifts everyone’s cravings.

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However, red rice has another story for one of its varieties in Asia. A variety of red rice started growing like a weed along with traditional rice crops creating havoc for many farmers across the nations. Researches were performed on this weed like the variety of red rice in order to make it more beneficial food grain.

As of today, red rice is available in manifold varieties in many countries including India. Such are:

  • Rakthashali
  • Red cargo rice
  • Bhutanese red rice
  • Camargue red rice
  • Matta Rice

Glycemic Index of Red Rice

The glycemic index of red rice is estimated to be around 55. This is a good score.

Any food whose glycemic index value is more than 69 is not at all preferable for diabetes. All the foods with glycemic index value less than this get a sanction to enter your diabetes diet. Though, few restrictions with respect to serving size might be required in every case.

Red Rice – Health Benefits for Diabetes

Red Rice - Health Benefits for Diabetes

Red rice is a whole grain. It retains outer husk along with fiber-enriched bran layer, germ, and endosperm.

Unlike white rice, red rice is either partially hulled or un-hulled. This means that outermost husk is left untouched. This red husk is loaded with nutritious perks.

The healthy red grains are packed with antioxidants and magnesium. Antioxidants flush out toxins from the body whereas magnesium is good at controlling blood pressure and migraines. It keeps a check on heart attacks too.

Another wonderful thing is the presence of fibers. Fibers assist weight loss and suppress unnecessary cravings. They also prevent postprandial blood sugar spikes.

Red rice is further enriched with natural vitamins, calcium, zinc, iron, selenium. Not to miss, anthocyanin itself is a powerful antioxidant known for reducing inflammation, allergy, and cancer risk.

Manganese found in these grains will strengthen your metabolism. Calcium promotes healthy teeth, stronger bones, and joints.

When calcium levels in the body are optimum, diseases like osteoporosis and arthritis stay away.

Selenium is also a part of the nutritional package of red rice and helps the body to fight against infection.

Whole grains reduce arterial plaque, prevent cardiovascular disease, tame high cholesterol, and regulate blood sugar.

Wondering how red rice makes a difference to your health. Here is the array of things it does for you.

  • Control of diabetes
  • Controls blood pressure
  • Keeps cholesterol levels under control
  • Minimize the risk of heart dysfunctions
  • Keeps Cancer at Bay
  • Supports people with asthma
  • Help in weight loss
  • Aid to digestion
  • Maximizes oxygen content of the body

A little extra knowledge is no harm. Let’s dig deeper into this discussion.

Dr. Aithal, who is managing director at Birla Ayurveda Health Care lists numerous benefits of red rice.

Control of diabetes

The reason why doctors prefer red rice over the white one to diabetics is that it is more adept at controlling diabetes.

Not only your insulin levels are regulated well, the fibers in them make sure your blood sugar levels are not entering a dangerous zone.

Improves oxygen-consuming capacity

We all breathe. But the oxygen reaching out body may vary. Some people have better lung capacity than others.

Lung capacity can be best boosted through yoga practices, but red rice also has the potential to escalate oxygen consumption rates of the body.

Oxygen reaches every tissues and cell in the body, keeping you energetic all day long. This activates the mind and elevates your mood spilling away all the stress and anxiety.

Regulate asthma

Magnesium present in red rice regulates asthma by improving the oxygen content of the body. When enough oxygen reaches your body, your lungs function better.

This helps to tackle asthma, bronchitis, and other lung-related disorders.

Assist weight loss goals

Diabetes and obesity might go hand in hand. Hyperglycemic individuals must be vigilant towards their weight.

Red rice can assist you to keep up with your resolution of being fit with low weight. Again, fibers in them will keep your stomach engaged for long hours. Eventually, you will be eating less.

Helps digestion

Being a great source of fibers, stimulate digestive activities. Harmful free radicals and toxic chemicals are spitted out easily.

When you have a meal rich in fibers, you eat less frequently. Your digestive machinery gets time to relax.

Reduce inflammation

Flavonoids present in red rice help reducing inflammation. Free radicals are washed away, and oxidative stress levels are decreased.

Substituting white rice with the red one can promote better kidney health by declining the number of proteins responsible for inflammation.

Low-fat food

Be carefree as only good fats are reaching your body. No overweight, no more cholesterol rising, and no such issues.

Since fats are essential for the proper functioning of your muscle tissues, particularly adipose tissues, you need adequate fats in your daily diet.

But this doesn’t mean you will turn on to junk foods. They only provide unhealthy fats that are of no advantage to the body.

Healthy fats that promote positive growth are provided in the right amount by sources like red rice. Luckily!

Cholesterol levels

Fats can prove fatal to the heart. But at the same time, fats are necessary for adipose tissues.

There is a need to satisfy the body’s need for healthy fats without letting the cholesterol levels soar to a terrible extent. Fortunately, red rice helps to balance this beam.

Surprisingly, red rice contains an active compound called monacolin K. This compound is employed in the manufacture of cholesterol-lowering medicines.

Be assured. Only appropriate fats are reaching your body.

Heart diseases

Poorly controlled cholesterol levels give rise to heart-related disorders. The key to prevent heart diseases is by preventing cholesterol levels to rise.

And how do you keep cholesterol levels under check? By choosing and eating the right kinds of fats with the right amount.

It’s all connected.

How to Cook Red Rice the Right Way?

How to Cook Red Rice the Right Way

When suffering from diabetes, it is recommended to cook rice in a pan instead of a pressure cooker. Also, the cooking should be done at a slower rate with an adequately large amount of water.

Basically, everyone cup of rice demands three cups of water. Washing rice before cooking is essential.

Follow the four given steps and prepare a bowl of delightful red rice to be served on the platter.

  1. Wash red rice three times and soak in water for one hour
  1. Drain soaked rice and transfer to pan
  1. Close the lid. Let grains to cook at the moderate flame for 30 minutes
  1. Close the gas but leave the pan on the gas for 5 more minutes to set the rice well.

And that’s all. You are done with preparing tasteful red rice.

You can couple this rice with other vegetables, meat, or pulses or make many more dishes using the same. This can be:

  • Red rice pulao
  • Red rice khichdi
  • Red rice poha
  • Red rice pudding

The internet is loaded with countless recipes of the same. Just a few efforts are required by your side for searching them.

Red Rice vs White Rice

White rice is a topic of hot debate among fitness fanatics. It is an enemy of weight loss and diabetes management. Rice can also give an open invitation to diseases like diabetes and obesity.

The main culprit is the glycemic index score of rice which is high. With a glycemic index of 78, and even more when cooked, rice is nothing but poison for diabetes.

Moreover, a big number of people all over the world are allergic to the gluten protein found in rice.

On the other side of the court is red rice with a lower glycemic index value, fewer carbs, and more health-boosting fibers.

If we compare the two, we can conclude the following postulates:

  1. Red rice ranks low on the glycemic index chart and is excellent for diabetes while white rice has a high glycemic index value and bad for diabetes.
  2. Red rice is gluten-free but white rice contains a considerable amount of gluten.
  3. Red rice has more fibers than white rice
  4. The nutritious bran layer is preserved by red rice whereas white rice has been robbed off all the nutritious elements by removal of the bran layer.

Can We Eat Red Rice Daily?

Several studies find that regular consumption of whole grains has no harm to human health, rather it’s beneficial for them. Varieties such as red rice and brown rice being whole grains are the eminent choice for diabetics.

These rice types will keep you miles away from certain chronic ailments – cancer, high blood pressure, bad cholesterol levels, and so on.

The above arguments give you a green signal to eat red rice on a daily basis even during diabetes. But as an extra layer of care, it is extremely advised to consult your dietician about the permitted calorie levels your body can safely imbibe.

Every diabetic person will have a different permissible calorie range. You just need to be watchful towards your portion size and you will be enjoying the rich aroma of red rice guilt-free.

When anything is done excessively, it ultimately becomes a disaster! Even you drink excessive amounts of water than required by the body, you will be facing problems.

Excessive consumption of red rice is linked with indigestion and bloating. Keep the size of your plates such that safety checks aren’t crossed.

Red rice is also made available in form of capsules. These capsules often contain rice properties in combination with other substances.

You can open out to such capsules but take in the right dose. Of course, your doctor who knows your medical history and current body situation is the best person to suggest you the right dose to be taken.

Concluding words

Red rice is endowed with myriads of health benefits. They are effective in controlling diabetes.

Other medicinal properties they possess prove to be boon for diabetes patients. From better weight management to better heart health, they can manage it all.

Being low in glycemic index value, they are a great meal choice for millions of diabetics who struggle to find promising alternatives to satiate their rice cravings.

Only consume them in the right amount as prescribed by your doctor. When you will take care of all precautions enlisted, you can continue eating such healthy rice grains throughout your life.



Dr Sharon Baisil MD


2 thoughts on “Red Rice Glycemic Index – Is It Safe for Diabetes?”

  1. I’d started eating red rice for a month now, & I was very delighted that IAM now reversing from pre-diabetic to normal glucose level…


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