Rice for Diabetes – Busting the Myths

Parul Dube

January 8, 2023

Rice gets the central place in daily meals amongst billions of people worldwide. It is a staple diet for many communities. From rice with curries to stir-fry with rice, sushi to risotto to sweet rice treats, this essential item reflects global diversity and inherent cultural essence.

Rice poses a significant challenge for people with diabetes because it is a carb. Simple carbohydrates are foods that cause glucose levels to spike quickly.

In addition, it can produce unpredictable fluctuations in glucose levels. If you have diabetes, you may wonder how to regulate your glucose when faced with this nutritional staple.

Unpleasant truth, but the most straightforward strategy to keep your glucose levels consistent regarding rice is to avoid eating it as much as possible.

This piece of advice stands true for most high-carb items, such as white bread, pasta, and cake, for diabetics. However, there is always a silver lining, and one can eat it in moderation.  

So this article will look at what varieties of rice are appropriate. Also, how to choose and cook rice for diabetes.

Rice and Diabetes – Can Diabetics Eat Rice?

When a person with diabetes consumes carbs, they are broken down into glucose, causing the body’s blood sugar to rise. So, it is crucial to understand how diabetics’ bodies react when they consume rice. 

Carbohydrate counting and the glycemic index of foods help with diabetes management. For example, rice is abundant in carbohydrates and may have a high GI rating. 

If a person has diabetes, they can skip it during supper. In addition, they must refrain from eating rice in large quantities or too frequently.

According to studies, eating a lot of white rice raises your risk of diabetes by 11%. As a result, people with diabetes should look out for other types of rice for better diabetes treatment.

Diabetes Friendly Rice Varieties

The type of rice matters when determining what to eat. It is preferable to consume rice that is high in nutrients. You should constantly examine the GI score of the rice you choose because it significantly impacts your blood sugar level.

Short-grain white rice has a high GI (70 or more). Therefore, avoid it as much as possible. In addition, it has the least nutritional value of other types of rice.

Instead, you should keep your rice consumption under check and choose wisely from the available options. Furthermore, you can balance your selection with low-GI items such as protein and non-starchy veggies.  

Here are some diabetic-friendly rice options to consider:

Brown Rice

Brown rice is a wholesome food because of its high germ and bran value. On the other hand, white rice lacks nutrient-rich germ and includes the starchy endosperm. As a result, brown rice has a medium GI making it more favourable for people with diabetes than white rice. 

Read more: Brown Rice – Is It Beneficial to Our Health?

Brown rice has a lot of fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Studies have found that it dramatically reduces post-meal blood sugar levels in persons with excess weight and type 2 diabetes.

It occurs due to its high fibre content. In addition, delayed absorption benefits digestive health and generates a feeling of fullness. Therefore, it can help reduce hunger pangs and induce weight reduction.

According to one study, its higher magnesium content can lower the incidence of type 2 diabetes.

Red Rice

The majority of the health benefits of red rice, also known as Navara Rice, are derived from anthocyanin. It is a flavonoid and potent antioxidant that produces the rice’s characteristic red colour. 

One study shows flavonoids can help reduce inflammation and control free radical levels. As a result, it may lower your risk of chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes. In addition, it has a low GI value, making it helpful in reducing blood sugar shoot-ups.  

Red rice’s high fibre content aids with weight management. It creates a feeling of fullness, which combats appetite and prevents mindless snacking. Also, fibre is healthy for your digestive tract and helps to reduce blood sugar absorption.

Black Rice

Black rice variants have a rich black colour that often turns purple when cooked, such as Indonesian black rice and Thai jasmine black rice. It gets its colour from anthocyanins, just like red rice. According to one study, anthocyanin-containing meals help reduce blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. 

Read more: Black Rice – Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

It is abundant in protein, having the most significant protein concentration of any rice type. Its low GI and high fibre content (three times that of white rice) make it an excellent choice for people with diabetes.

In addition, it is a naturally gluten-free whole grain. As a result, it is a safe and healthful choice for anyone, even if you merely want to reduce your gluten intake.

Wild Rice

Wild rice is technically the seeds of aquatic grasses. However, it is commonly used in the kitchen in the same way as other rice varieties. Wild rice is a deliciously balanced diet with a good amount of protein and fibre. Furthermore, it is relatively low in calories. 

Read more: Wild Rice – A Superfood with Numerous Health Benefits

Manganese is one micronutrient that is abundant in wild rice. Manganese is an antioxidant that helps to keep the mitochondria in your cells healthy and helps to maintain a healthy metabolism.

In addition, it contains a lot of Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA). Some study suggests that ALA is beneficial to patients with type 2 diabetes. It may improve the body’s ability to manufacture insulin and alleviate diabetic nerve damage symptoms.

The HealthifyMe Note

If you have diabetes, it is generally safe to consume rice in moderation. But first, ensure you understand the carbohydrate count and GI score of the rice you want to eat. Selecting one rice variety over another might be a straightforward approach to improving your diet. Some rice kinds, such as brown rice, red rice, and others, have a lower GI score than others and are, therefore, particularly good for diabetes treatment.

Other Grain Alternatives to Consider

Experiment with several types of grains instead of relying on rice as a lunchtime staple. They can assist you in managing your diabetes and adhering to a balanced diet. Most have additional nutritional value as well. These may satisfy you for a more extended period than more refined starches.

 The glycemic index of these grains is low:

  • Rolled and steel-cut oats
  • Barley
  • Bulgur
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Buckwheat

Tips to Consider Eating Rice Without Increasing Your Blood Sugar

Change the Way You Cook It

Instead of a pressure cooker, cook the rice in a vessel with extra water. Once the rice has cooked, drain the excess water to remove some starch.

Control Portion Sizes and Frequency

Reduce the amount and frequency with which you eat rice at each meal.

For example, you can gradually reduce your frequency from twice daily to once daily to a few times per week. Slow modifications are simple to implement and aid in forming long-lasting habits.

Maintain a Healthy Diet

Once you have lowered the amount of rice in your meal, make up for it with protein sources and fibre-rich vegetables.

For example, use less rice, more lentils, and millet to make your khichdi and pulao recipes healthier.


Regarding remaining healthy and maintaining sugar levels in people with diabetes, nutrition is vital. It is all about balance, and you have to be careful.

You can determine the influence of rice on blood sugar by the type of rice you eat, how much you eat, and what you combine it with. So, proceed with caution and enjoy your rice meals!

You must monitor your blood glucose for better diabetes management, which is simple with HealthifyMe’s Biosensor System with a Continuous Glucose Monitor.

It provides you with the knowledge to track and control your diabetes independently, whether you manage it with daily insulin injections, oral medications, or through diet and exercise. 

The CGM monitors your blood sugar levels around the clock using a tiny sensor attached to your arm. It can sync with your smartphone, laptop, or PC, depending on your preferences.

The qualified coaches will provide you with the best-personalised diet plan for your health. Remember that having more stable glucose levels will make you feel better and benefit your overall health in the long run.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

Q. Can rice increase blood sugar?

A. The straight answer is yes. However, people with blood sugar complications like diabetes can eat rice as part of a healthy diet in moderation and with caution. Spread out your rice and other carbohydrate consumption throughout the day. Choose rice that is low in carbs and has a low GI score, as this will not raise their blood glucose.

Q. Which rice will reduce sugar?

A. Wholegrain Basmati rice has the lowest GI rating of any rice kind. It signifies that after rice gets digested, it gradually releases its energy. As a result, this also helps to keep blood glucose levels stable. Therefore, this is a crucial aspect of diabetes care.

Q. Which rice is best for diabetics?

A. Diabetic individuals should consume rice with a low glycemic index. Rice with less starch has a lower glycemic index and is, therefore, the best option. Keeping this in mind,  Basmati, Brown, and Wild Rice have very low glycemic indexes and thus are good options for diabetics. 

Q. How much rice can a Type 2 diabetic eat?

A. Diabetics may include rice as part of a balanced diet. They must, however, consume rice in moderation. You must know that one cup of rice contains 45 grams of carbohydrates. Therefore, they must distribute their rice consumption evenly throughout the day. Choose a rice variety that is low in carbs with a low GI value.

Q. Is Basmati rice OK for diabetics?

A. Basmati rice is a low to medium glycemic index food, with a glycemic index of 50 to 58. Therefore, small amounts of basmati rice can be part of a healthy diet if you have diabetes.

The Supporting Resources

1. Van Dam RM. A Global Perspective on White Rice Consumption and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2020 Nov;43(11):2625-2627. doi: 10.2337/dci20-0042. PMID: 33082242.


2. Panlasigui LN, Thompson LU. Blood glucose lowering effects of brown rice in normal and diabetic subjects. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2006 May-Jun;57(3-4):151-8. Doi: 10.1080/09637480500410879. PMID: 17127465.


3. Hata A, Doi Y, Ninomiya T, Mukai N, Hirakawa Y, Hata J, Ozawa M, Uchida K, Shirota T, Kitazono T, Kiyohara Y. Magnesium intake decreases Type 2 diabetes risk through the improvement of insulin resistance and inflammation: the Hisayama Study. Diabet Med. 2013 Dec;30(12):1487-94. doi: 10.1111/dme.12250. Epub 2013 Jun 29. PMID: 23758216.


4. Xu H, Luo J, Huang J, Wen Q. Flavonoids intake and risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus: A meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Medicine (Baltimore). 2018 May;97(19):e0686. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000010686. PMID: 29742713; PMCID: PMC5959406.


5. Ghosh D, Konishi T. Anthocyanins and anthocyanin-rich extracts: role in diabetes and eye function. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2007;16(2):200-8. PMID: 17468073.


6. Ebada MA, Fayed N, Fayed L, Alkanj S, Abdelkarim A, Farwati H, Hanafy A, Negida A, Ebada M, Noser Y. Efficacy of Alpha-lipoic Acid in The Management of Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Iran J Pharm Res. 2019 Fall;18(4):2144-2156. doi: 10.22037/ijpr.2019.1100842. PMID: 32184879; PMCID: PMC7059057.


About the Author

Parul holds a Masters of Medical Science in Public Health Nutrition from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and has worked across the globe from the U.K to New Zealand (NZ) gaining her License with the Health Professionals Council (HPC, UK) and the NZ Nutrition Council. From being a Gold medalist in Clinical Nutrition to being awarded an internship with World Health Organisation (WHO, Cairo, Egypt) and Contracts with CDC Parul has had a wide spectrum of work experiences. She is very passionate about Nutrition and Fitness and holds strong to her guiding mantras ‘ Move more’ and ‘Eat Food that your grandmother can recognize’!

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