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Is Basmati Rice Good for Diabetics? Decoding the Facts

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Rice is a vital food source for half of the world’s population, providing up to half their daily calories. For centuries, people in the Asia-Pacific region have eaten rice as a staple.

However, in recent times, white rice, particularly Basmati rice, has taken over the place of other rice variants, particularly in the Indian subcontinent and other Asian countries.

Basmati is a long-grained rice, with a 6.61mm length. Basmati rice may only be ideal for some. It has a relatively low score on the glycemic index scale. But, its high carbohydrate content can disrupt blood sugar levels. The body’s response to this can be the production of insulin, which can then lead to insulin resistance.

Basmati rice is a type of rice popular for its unique taste, aroma, and length. But, a significant confusion is whether rice suits people with diabetes.

This article addresses the same and puts light on the scientific aspects.

Diabetes and Foods – The Relationship

The risk of type-2 diabetes has been increasing globally, with chronic high blood sugar being one of the primary symptoms. A poor diet is a major contributing factor to this, making it a significant lifestyle choice. Hence, an individual’s food choices are vital in managing their blood sugar levels.

If you have diabetes, your body may not be able to effectively produce insulin due to sudden changes in blood sugar levels. Insulin resistance can range from mild to severe. It can prevent glucose from being taken up by muscles and fat cells.

Research suggests that consuming a diet high in whole grains can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It is due to their high fibre and other protein content. Hence, they could become the healthiest alternative to refined grains.

The National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) recommend that at least half of your daily consumption of grains be whole grains.

These grains include wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, and quinoa. It means that people with diabetes can have rice in their meals. However, one should eat them in moderation. 

Types of Basmati Rice

Basmati rice is an excellent source of carbohydrates and they do not have a high Glycemic Index score. Thus, people with diabetes can eat them as a part of their balanced meals but in moderation.

Basmati rice has decent nutritional content with plenty of amino acids, fibre and a small number of proteins. However, a lot depends on the type of Basmati rice. It is because the nutritional composition varies depending on the kind of rice.

The carb content per quarter-cup serving of uncooked rice is as follows: 

  • White basmati has 39 grams of carbs, including 0.9 grams of fibre. 
  • Organic white basmati has 41 grams of carbs, including 0.9 grams of fibre. 
  • Organic brown basmati rice has 34 grams of carbs, including 4 grams of fibre.

The HealthifyMe Note

Organic brown basmati rice is healthy as it is unmilled, preserving its bran layer and nutrient-rich germ. As a result, consuming brown basmati rice can help you meet the diabetes dietary recommendations. With no cholesterol, fat or sugar, it has fewer carbohydrates and more nutrients than white basmati rice.

Is Basmati Rice Good for Diabetics?

Rice is a staple food in most kitchens across Asia and Africa. Due to its familiarity, rice is considered a comforting and homely food. Given below is the effect of Basmati rice on people with diabetes.

Carbohydrates in Basmati Rice

If you have diabetes, you may wonder if you should eat foods high in carbohydrates, such as rice, to get the glucose your body needs. The type and quantity of carbohydrates you eat can affect your blood glucose levels and diabetes management.

Since basmati rice is a whole grain, one can consume it. However, since white basmati rice is a high-carb and high-calorie food, people with diabetes should always consume them in moderation. 

According to this study, rice, specifically white rice, has higher levels of carbohydrates and glycemic index. Both of which will promote glucose production in humans.

And increased levels of glucose are potential threats to diabetic patients. So instead, one can replace white rice with brown basmati rice, as it has relatively low carbs and calories. 

The Fibre in Basmati Rice

Incorporating basmati rice into your diet can be beneficial for many reasons. Its high-fibre content helps slow down sugar absorption in your system, preventing blood sugar spikes for those with diabetes. 

Fibre is also essential for regulating bowel health, as it lubricates the gastrointestinal tract and can reduce the risk of bowel cancer in the future. However, it is important not to overindulge, as too much rice can cause bloating, temporary weight gain, loose stools, and back pain.

Basmati Rice and Blood Pressure Management

Incorporating rice into your diet may help to maintain normal blood pressure levels. Whole grains relax blood vessels, promoting healthy blood flow to your heart. Lower blood pressure can reduce the risk of heart diseases such as unstable angina and cardiomyopathy. It is crucial for those with type 2 diabetes. 

Rice is a low to medium-glycemic food which can support the cardiovascular system. If you’d like advice on other heart-healthy foods, an expert nutritionist at HealthifyMe can provide further guidance.

The Glycemic Index

Glycemic Index measures how certain foods affect your blood sugar levels. Foods that score above 55 are not recommended for people with diabetes, such as potatoes and white bread, since they contain too many carbohydrates that can lead to increased levels of cholesterol in the blood.

The glycemic index (GI) of basmati rice can range from 50 to 58, depending on the type of rice. It also depends on the preparation. For instance, cooked white basmati rice may have a higher GI score due to the presence of refined starch. The same is true for fried rice cooked with fat-based oils. 

Basmati Rice vs Brown Rice for Diabetics

Brown Rice and Diabetes

Experts have attested to the proven benefits of brown rice and its potential to provide many advantages when consumed in the right amount.

One example is that brown rice has a lower glycemic index than white rice, which can benefit those looking to manage their diabetes levels. Additionally, brown rice has more fibre than white rice, which can help you feel fuller for longer when you eat a smaller portion. 

Studies indicate that brown rice is high in fibre, contributing to lower blood sugar levels in those with type 2 diabetes. As regulating blood sugar levels is essential to avoid developing diabetes, adding brown rice to your diet can be a great way to manage type 2 diabetes.

Which is Better: White Basmati or Brown Basmati Rice?

White basmati rice may not be a healthy choice for those managing diabetes, as it can raise blood sugar levels and contain high levels of saturated fat.

Instead, try incorporating brown basmati rice into your diet, as it contains essential nutrients like fibre, protein, and healthy fats. Dietary fibre is vital for keeping blood sugar low and maintaining blood glucose levels after meals. 

Wild rice and brown rice are excellent sources of fibre and resistant starch, which helps improve insulin sensitivity and manage blood glucose concentrations. Steer clear of white basmati rice if you’re trying to maintain a balanced diet.

The HealthifyMe Note

You don’t have to give up the taste of a delicious meal to lead a healthy lifestyle. Basmati rice is a great way to enjoy an aromatic flavour without sacrificing well-being. This type of rice comes in white and brown varieties, with the latter being a better choice for those with diabetes. In addition, Basmati rice has a low glycemic index, making it a safe option for people with diabetes.

The Final Word

Basmati is a type of rice with many health benefits, such as supporting weight management and helping improve bowel function. However, white rice varieties are not as healthy due to the starch they contain. 

Eating rice with every meal could lead to symptoms of hyperglycemia, such as shortness of breath, abdominal pain, nausea, weakness, and dry mouth.

Rice is best when consumed in moderation, with no more than one serving (half a cup) per week and even better when combined with proteins and fibre.

People with diabetes should speak to healthcare experts to plan a customised meal plan for managing diabetes. Remember to keep a balanced diet and practice moderation for optimal health.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Does basmati rice raise blood sugar?

A: Basmati rice is known to have a relatively low glycemic index, making it a good option for those with diabetes. However, the type of rice chosen is important, as white basmati rice has more carbs and calories than its brown counterpart. Thus, brown basmati rice may be the best choice for those with diabetes.

Q: Which rice is better for diabetic patients?

A: For diabetic patients, it is best to choose whole grain and low glycemic index (GI) rice varieties. Brown rice is an excellent option as it is high in fibre and low GI. Basmati rice is also a good choice as it has a lower GI than other varieties of white rice. Additionally, red and black rice are great alternatives to white rice, as they have a low GI and are also high in fibre.

Q: How much basmati rice should a diabetic eat?

A: Basmati rice is a nutritious and low-glycemic food that can benefit people with diabetes. However, monitoring portion size and limiting intake are essential to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Generally, people with diabetes should aim to eat no more than 1/2 cup of cooked basmati rice per meal. 

Cook your basmati rice with plenty of vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. It will be a balanced meal. In addition, eating basmati rice in combination with other low-glycemic foods can help reduce the meal’s glycemic load, which is beneficial for people with diabetes.

Q. Which is better for diabetics, brown rice or basmati rice?

A: When it comes to deciding which type of rice is better for people with diabetes, both brown rice and basmati rice offer nutritional benefits. Brown rice is lower in calories and carbohydrates than white rice, making it a better choice for those with diabetes. Additionally, brown rice is high in fibre, magnesium, and other essential minerals that help regulate blood sugar levels. Ultimately, the best type of rice for diabetics will depend on individual needs, but brown rice can be more beneficial.

Q. What type of rice lowers blood sugar?

A: Brown rice is a type of rice that is known to help lower blood sugar levels. It is high in fibre, which helps slow digestion, resulting in a slower release of glucose into the bloodstream. Brown rice also has a high glycemic index, which breaks down more slowly than other types of rice, providing a more gradual release of glucose. Therefore, eating brown rice regularly can help improve blood sugar control and overall health.

The Research Sources

1. Ghanbari-Gohari F, Mousavi SM, Esmaillzadeh A. Consumption of whole grains and risk of type 2 diabetes: A comprehensive systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Food Sci Nutr. 2022 Mar 10;10(6):1950-1960. doi: 10.1002/fsn3.2811. PMID: 35702290; PMCID: PMC9179146.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9179146/

2. Diabetes Diet, Eating, & Physical Activity by the National Institute of Diabetes Digestion and Kidney Diseases

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/diet-eating-physical-activity#whatFood

3. Hu EA, Pan A, Malik V, Sun Q. White rice consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis and systematic review. BMJ. 2012 Mar 15;344:e1454. Doi: 10.1136/BMJ.e1454. PMID: 22422870; PMCID: PMC3307808.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3307808/#:~:text=In%20the%20total%20population%2C%20the,for%20linear%20trend%3C0.001).

4. 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.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17127465/

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