RICE & DIABETES: Expert addresses 5 Common Concerns

Dt. Tanvi Chipkar

Dietitian and Assistant Professor at SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai.

This blog is by Dt. Tanvi Chipkar, Dietitian and Assistant Professor at SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai. She is a Certified Diabetes Educator and is currently pursuing her Ph.D.
Tanvi has also worked at esteemed institutions like Sion Hospital, Nair Hospital, and Global Hospital at Mumbai. Tanvi had also conducted a FB live session on this topic recently that was hosted on the Acti Diabcare Facebook community https://www.facebook.com/groups/actidiabetescare

Rice is one of the most satisfying foods, especially for Indians, is an integral part of our culture and every meal in India. But once you are diagnosed with Diabetes, you’ll hear a lot of opinions and advice on whether rice is good or bad for you, how much you can consume, when you can consume it and so on. So, as a Nutrition expert, let me help you unravel the truth and address 5 common queries about Rice and Diabetes.

Rice consists of carbohydrates, with B-complex vitamins and minerals like magnesium, selenium present primarily in the outer layer-bran. There are around 6000 varieties of rice grown across the nation, and varieties like Kolam, Ambemohar, Basmati, Brown rice are commonly used.

1. I have Diabetes. So, should I stop eating Rice?

As per Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), an adult needs to consume 100-130 grams carbohydrates/ day for energy management. If rice is your staple food, you need not completely stop eating rice. Other cereals such as Wheat, Bajra etc give us carbohydrates and provide energy by releasing glucose into blood and prevent Hypoglycemia. Thus, it is necessary to consume either Rice or Chapati in controlled amounts.

2. How much Rice can I consume safely?

It is advised not to eat more than 1 cup Rice (200g cooked rice, 30g raw rice) at a time, if roti is included then rice has to be further reduced. The amount of Dal/ Pulses/ Sprouts consumed should be equal to Cereals and the amount of your Salads and Vegetables should be twice than your Rice.  Not maintaining this portion control will increase your blood sugar level, and eventually affect the HbA1c levels at the end of 3 months.

3. Which type or variety of Rice is better for Diabetics?

  • Certain varieties such as Ambemohar, Dubraj, Mogra, Indrayani, and Gobindobhog are used in daily household cooking. They contain moderate to high amounts of starch.
  • Basmati is a traditionally aged rice known for its delicate fragrance and used for pulao and biryanis. The Ageing process reduces the starch content of the rice.
  • Black rice is an exotic variety which contains antioxidants and is nutritious.
  • Red rice is grown in North eastern states like Assam and Manipur, also has beneficial properties like high fibre, anthocyanin antioxidants and other nutritional contents which gives it the red colour and balance the starch content due to less milling.
  • Rajamudi rice grown in south India also has many nutritional benefits, such as high antioxidants, and Zinc stores.
  • Brown rice gets its colour due to the presence of bran, hull, less milling and has more fibre and therefore is healthier.
  • Other Indian varieties such as Sona Masuri rice and Ponni rice have lower starch content.
  • Parboiled rice (Ukda Tandul) and rosematta rice have even lower starch and high vitamins - minerals due to the process of parboiling.

 Remember minimally processed rice is always better.

4. Which variety of Rice is better for managing my blood sugar spikes?

All these different types of rice will have different effects on blood sugar level due to their starch content. Glycemic index is a measure of how fast your blood sugar level rises after eating any food.

  • Short grain rice such as Mogra and white polished rice has high starch and high GI (70-92), so it raises blood sugar levels rapidly.
  • Medium grain rice has moderate GI (56-70) while long grain rice, brown rice, brown Basmati rice has lower starch content and lower GI (< 55) which does not raise blood sugar level rapidly.
  • Parboiled rice is a good option, GI – 50 to 60.

5. How can I reduce the blood sugar spike that happens after I consume Rice?

  • Parboiling at home, open vessel cooking instead of pressure cooking reduces the GI.
  • Combining rice with Dal/ Pulses/ Sprouts or any protein source in equal amounts (such as Dal Rice, Idli/ Dosa Sambhar, Dal Paratha, Paratha and Curd, Paneer Paratha, Rice and grilled paneer, Poha and Milk, Rice and Grilled Fish/Chicken, etc). This will also balance the GI of your meal.
  • Adding vegetables in the form of Sabji and Salads increases the fibre reducing the blood sugar spike. Sautéing rice in a small amount of oil (as in pulao) reduces the GI.
  • Include Poha, which has lower starch content due to its method of preparation. Add Vegetables & groundnuts to further reduce the GI, increase fibre and give
  • Have Rice puff or Murmura, combine it with roasted chana and other vegetables to consume in limited portions as a snack.
  • Dosa and Idli has a GI of 87, combining dosa/idli with sambar reduces GI.
  • Addition of millet such as bajra/ kangni further reduces the GI to 60.

Also, for your next meal, you can add a sachet of  a 100% natural ActiFiber Natural Sugar Control to reduce blood sugar spikes. Add a sachet of ActiFiber to each of the 2 main meals to help regulate blood glucose levels and manage your diabetes better. Adding ActiFiber into your regular diet is effortless because it dissolves easily into any food or drink with no taste, odour or colour.

So, consume your meals attentively, bear these considerations in mind, and enjoy your rice while effectively managing your blood sugar levels.

Join Acti DiabCare Community https://www.facebook.com/groups/actidiabetescare for Direct Interactions & Practical Advice from Diabetes Experts such as Dt.Tanvi Chipkar. Let’s share & learn together to stay healthy.

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