Diabetes mellitus is a chronic condition that affects the worldwide population. It is estimated that approximately 463 million (9.3%) people have diabetes globally. [1]

If you have diabetes, it’s completely understandable to be concerned about how certain types of foods can affect your blood sugar levels and condition.

In this article, we’ll explore how different types of rice can affect your blood sugar levels. We’ll look at which types are best for people with diabetes and which are better avoided if you wish to manage your blood sugar levels well.

Diabetes Mellitus and Diet 

Diabetes Mellitus is a condition in which the individual has persistently elevated blood glucose levels.

It occurs because the body is unable to produce insulin to control these glucose levels (Type I) or because there is an unexplained insulin resistance developed inside the body, which makes the glucose become unresponsive to insulin (Type II). [2]

With elevated blood glucose levels, you’ll have to stay vigilant of all the factors that elevate these levels. The primary source of concern is a person’s diet. Stress, obesity, and other options come secondarily. 

A healthy diet that has been carefully selected is important for a person with diabetes mellitus because it then ensures that there would not be any unwanted blood sugar level spikes.

This way, a person can steer clear of all the complications that arise due to diabetes, such as elevated blood pressure, heart disease, and nerve damage. 

Diabetes Mellitus Type II and High Glycemic Index (GI)

To ensure that your blood glucose levels are kept in check, it’s crucial to know the Glycemic Index (GI) of the foods you take. 

The GI index shows how quickly each type of food you consume will raise your blood sugar levels.

A high-value glycemic index is only achieved when foods rich in glucose are eaten. But glucose-rich or high-sugar foods are not the only possible culprits.

Carbohydrates are also broken down into glucose once they enter the digestive tract and are considered equally responsible for raising the glycemic index in the body. 

Therefore, people who have diabetes are usually advised to opt for a balanced and healthy diet plan, which is based on consuming food items that range from low to moderate on the glycemic index scale.

Foods with a low glycemic index tend to raise blood glucose levels slower than high GI foods.

Diabetes Mellitus and Rice – Is Rice High in Carbohydrates? 

Rice is a staple food across the world, and you may enjoy incorporating rice in your daily meals due to cultural or personal preferences.

But when it comes to health, rice is a carbohydrate-rich food. This means that once its digestion begins in the body, it gets broken down into simpler sugars or ‘glucose’, which then elevates your blood sugar levels.

In people with diabetes, a high glycemic index means that there is an excess amount of glucose present in the body. This glucose can cause an unwanted load on the body and diabetes-related complications.

Moreover, research has found that some crops of rice are also associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in people who are pre-diabetic.

So, you may be wondering if rice is safe to consume, and if so, which types are best. Let’s dive right in!

What is the Best Type of Rice for Diabetics? 

Since several types of rice are cultivated and harvested all over the world, there is a bright chance that some crops could prove to be a healthier option for prediabetic and diabetic patients. 

To start off, is rice safe for people with diabetes?

Yes, if you have diabetes, you can still consume rice, unless your doctor has advised you strongly to avoid it. You will have to watch how much and how often you have rice and preferably opt for the healthier types. We’ll explore them below!

Brown Rice In Diabetes 

Brown grains in diabetes

In simple terms, brown rice is just white rice, but with all its coatings intact. They are whole grain rice, with only their outermost, inedible part called the ‘hull’ removed. 

Given the nutritional benefits of brown rice, it is considered to be a great source of essential nutrients. It is a rich source of flavonoids, which are antioxidants proven to reduce the risk of several chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. It is also high in fiber, potassium, and vitamins.  

Brown rice has both protective and preventive effects on people who are predisposed to developing diabetes and those who already have it.

Research has revealed that if people with prediabetes consume brown rice instead of conventional white rice, they may experience a much lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This is due to the high fiber content of brown rice. [3]

Similarly, people with Type II diabetes may experience significant benefits from brown rice consumption as their blood glucose levels wouldn’t rise as high as they would have with normal rice.

This is, again, due to the high fiber content of brown rice. Moreover, brown rice also aids with weight loss. In terms of the GI index, it is ranked as a medium GI food. 

White Rice in Diabetes

white rice in diabetes

White rice is the most commonly cultivated and consumed rice worldwide. These are the rice that you commonly see in restaurants and on your dining table. But is white rice better than brown rice for diabetics? Is it as healthy as we suppose it to be? 

Well, it turns out that eating white rice is not exactly a good option for diabetic people. White rice is a carbohydrate-rich food source, implying that it is a high GI index food that raises blood glucose levels to an unfavorable extent. It can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. [4]

Therefore, from a healthy perspective, short-grain white rice is considered a bad choice for people with diabetes. It also is not a great source of nutrition, so it is better to look out for healthier alternatives instead. 

Basmati Rice in Diabetes

basmati rice for diabetes

‘Jasmine Rice’ or white basmati rice is a healthy and nutrition-filled rice crop. It is rich in several important nutrients – fiber, B vitamins, copper, magnesium, and other mineral compounds. All in all, this long-grain rice can benefit you if you consume this variety of rice.

Basmati Rice has the lowest GI index among the rest on this list, and hence, it is completely safe for consumption if you have diabetes. [5]

Moreover, it also helps with early satiety, which helps a person keep their weight in check. It also improves gut health and bowel function.

Black Rice in Diabetes

Black Rice for Diabetes

Although considered physically undesirable because of their color, black rice or ‘wild rice’ is an important ingredient for some sweet dishes that are popularly prepared in India. 

Their black color is due to the high quantity of anthocyanins contained in them. These anthocyanins have antioxidant properties, which means that they help combat inflammation and cell damage in the body. Anthocyanins also have a protective effect against heart diseases.

Once cooked, they assume a purple color. 

Black rice has low carbs, and hence, it is unlikely to increase your blood glucose levels significantly post-consumption. They help prevent any kind of sudden spikes in blood sugar levels and lead to early satiety, which promotes weight loss. [6]

What is the Best Type Of Rice for Diabetes?

To conclude, all the types of rice discussed here, apart from white rice, are safe choices for you if you have diabetes.

Brown rice, black rice, and basmati rice are all low GI foods and have protective effects against diabetes and its complications

However, it is best to exercise portion control when eating rice to avoid any unexpected spikes. Additionally, you may also wish to steer clear of other high-carb foods and pair rice with veggies, tofu, or chicken to maintain satiety.

And, of course, be sure to consult your healthcare professional for dietary advice before making drastic changes to your diet!

Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your own healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional.

Editorial References And Fact-Checking

  • Saeedi, P., Petersohn, I., Salpea, P., Malanda, B., Karuranga, S., Unwin, N., Colagiuri, S., Guariguata, L., Motala, A. A., Ogurtsova, K., Shaw, J. E., Bright, D., Williams, R., & IDF Diabetes Atlas Committee (2019). Global and regional diabetes prevalence estimates for 2019 and projections for 2030 and 2045: Results from the International Diabetes Federation Diabetes Atlas, 9th edition. Diabetes research and clinical practice, 157, 107843. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.diabres.2019.107843
  • Sapra, A., & Bhandari, P. (2022). Diabetes Mellitus. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing.
  • Malik, V. S., Sudha, V., Wedick, N. M., RamyaBai, M., Vijayalakshmi, P., Lakshmipriya, N., Gayathri, R., Kokila, A., Jones, C., Hong, B., Li, R., Krishnaswamy, K., Anjana, R. M., Spiegelman, D., Willett, W. C., Hu, F. B., & Mohan, V. (2019). Substituting brown rice for white rice on diabetes risk factors in India: a randomised controlled trial. The British journal of nutrition, 121(12), 1389–1397. https://doi.org/10.1017/S000711451900076X
  • Hu, E. A., Pan, A., Malik, V., & Sun, Q. (2012). White rice consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: meta-analysis and systematic review. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 344, e1454. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e1454
  • Boers, H. M., Seijen Ten Hoorn, J., & Mela, D. J. (2015). A systematic review of the influence of rice characteristics and processing methods on postprandial glycaemic and insulinaemic responses. The British journal of nutrition, 114(7), 1035–1045. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114515001841
  • Helmyati, S., Kiasaty, S., Amalia, A. W., Sholihah, H., Kurnia, M., Wigati, M., Rohana, A. J., Ishak, W., Hamid, N. A., Malik, V., & Hu, F. (2020). Substituting white rice with brown and black rice as an alternative to prevent diabetes mellitus type 2: a case-study among young adults in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Journal of diabetes and metabolic disorders, 19(2), 749–757. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40200-020-00555-8
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Dr Andleeb Asghar, Pharm.D

Dr Andleeb is a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D) graduate with real-life experience working in health and wellness-related companies. She has also published various research papers in the health and medical field. Currently, she takes joy in creating health-related content for a wide range of audiences, which is a craft she has been perfecting for over five years. She enjoys diving deep into published research papers and journal articles to source helpful content for her readers. LinkedIn

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  • Dr Andleeb is a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D) graduate with real-life experience working in health and wellness-related companies. She has also published various research papers in the health and medical field. Currently, she takes joy in creating health-related content for a wide range of audiences, which is a craft she has been perfecting for over five years. She enjoys diving deep into published research papers and journal articles to source helpful content for her readers. LinkedIn

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Dr Andleeb is a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D) graduate with real-life experience working in health and wellness-related companies. She has also published various research papers in the health and medical field. Currently, she takes joy in creating health-related content for a wide range of audiences, which is a craft she has been perfecting for over five years. She enjoys diving deep into published research papers and journal articles to source helpful content for her readers. LinkedIn