Which Rice is Best for People with Diabetes?

2012-07-11 07:50

If you have type 2 diabetes, you may be familiar with the glycemic index and that foods with a low glycemic index are best for managing your disease. Knowing which foods have a low value can be confusing at times, but now a new study my help consumers make a choice concerning at least one food: rice. Which rice is best for people with diabetes?

People with diabetes can eat rice

The glycemic index is a tool to measure a food's effect on blood sugar. Generally, foods with a glycemic index of 55 or less are considered low (good), while values of 56 to 69 are medium and those 70 or higher are high (bad) glycemic index values.

Foods with a high glycemic index make a person's blood sugar levels rise and fluctuate, which can increase the chance of getting diabetes and also make managing type 2 diabetes a challenge. Some of the items typically placed in the high glycemic index category include white bread, baked goods, pasta, and rice. However, not all rice has a high glycemic index value, and indeed some varieties fall into the low category.

Investigators from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and CSIRO's Food Futures Flagship evaluated 235 varieties of rice and discovered that the glycemic index values ranged from 48 to 92. That means people with diabetes have healthful options when it comes to choosing rice as part of their diet.

Investigators also discovered that the main gene associated with glycemic index in all the varieties is the Waxy gene. This information will allow rice breeders to develop more varieties of rice with low glycemic index values and expand the options for people with type 2 diabetes.

According to Dr. Melissa Fitzgerald, who headed the IRRI group, "Rice varieties like India's most widely grown rice variety, Swarna, have a low GI and varieties like Doongara and Basmati from Australia have a medium GI."

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A closer look at rice
Generally, brown rice has a lower glycemic index (55) than white rice, as well as slightly more fiber and more nutritional value. Brown, short-grain japonica rice reportedly has a value of 62.

But not all white rice is the same. Long grain white rice tends to have a lower glycemic index (56) than other white varieties, such as short grain (72). Basmati rice has a glycemic index of about 58. The rice with the highest glycemic index value (90s range) is sweet or sticky rice, which is the variety usually served in Asian restaurants.

Factors that have an impact on the glycemic index of rice are its dietary fiber level and amylose content. Amylose is a polysaccharide that makes up starch. In a study just published in the International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition, the authors reported on their evaluation of milled and brown rice and their glycemic index values.

They found that the glycemic index and glucose response of different varieties of rice depended on their fiber content and amylose content. Generally, the rice with the lowest amylose content had a high glycemic index (75) while rice with the highest amylose content had a low glycemic index (50). Low fiber was associated with a high glycemic index while rice with higher fiber had a lower glycemic index.

In the most recent study, Dr. Fitzgerald explained that "Understanding that different types of rice have different GI values allows rice consumers to make informed choices about the sort of rice they want to eat." For people with diabetes, knowing there are healthful choices of rice may expand their dietary options.

Read about other foods and diabetes:
Diabetes and pomegranates
Diabetes and mangoes
Fitzgerald M et al. Identification of a major genetic determinant of glycaemic index in rice. Rice 2012; 4(2): 66-74
Trinidad TP et al. The effect of apparent amylose content and dietary fibre on the glycemic response of different varieties of cooked milled and brown rice. International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition 2012 Jul 4

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Updated April 2, 2014



I am a diabetic patient so i want to know which rice basmati or brown which basmati brand I use suggest me please
I cannot recommend any specific brand. The glycemic index may differ depending on where the rice is grown and the growing conditions. I suggest choosing a brown basmati rice, organic if possible.
This Brown Rice i eat is TSURI MAI this is a GMO free rice. Gluten Free, Vegan. It is grown in California. I feel this is the best brown rice to eat if you are a Diabetic.
I recommend that Samo rice means varicha bhat,bhagar rice (rice for fast) is best for diabetes i use same and also broken wheat can be use it taste same like rice.G.I of samo rice is very low.
I am diabetic- type- ii for the last 12 years, which type of basmati rice you recommend for me?
Please suggest me what type of rice I should have.
Why in blazes cannot all the rice varieties be put on a chart, highest to lowest Gi rating so anyone,, EVERYONE can look at it and make up their own bloody minds!?? I an Type 2 Diabetic and MCS, cannot take any meds or insulin for it, and fight constantly for this kind of information, only to be run around like a dog after it's tail, and get no where!! Nelson.
I would like to see something like that myself on all items and have it posted with the nutritional value chart on the packaging. I can remember back when there was no nutritional chart on anything purchased as food and it took lobbying and consumers to finally force the FDA to require those values to be listed. Very hard to find items like cheese with low carb, low fat, and low sodium. Takes a bit of searching and comparing. Would like to see those ratings on all items.