Best rice for Diabetes - Semi polished rice
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Which is the best rice for diabetic patients – Brown rice or red rice or black rice or wild rice or unpolished rice? It’s very confusing.

The moment you are diagnosed with diabetes, the first thing probably your doctor has told you to avoid white rice, potato, and sweets.

But if you are someone grown-up by eating white rice twice a day, it’s difficult on various levels.

Let me guess your situation –

You are comfortable with white rice but people are suggesting shifting to brown rice or millets for extra fiber.

Now, Indian dal/ sabzi does not taste that good with brown rice/ millets/ quinoa compared to white rice.

The quantity of rice has been markedly reduced.

Ever since you have switched to brown rice/ millets, you are probably experiencing gas, acidity, bloating, and stomach aches sometimes.

But brown rice/ millets are supposed to be healthy, so you are not in a position to complain.

In fact, now people are suggesting you try red rice/ black rice, etc for even higher fiber content.

If you can relate to these problems, then this blog is for you.

Which is the best rice for diabetic patients -planning to switch to black/red rice?

Knowledge is power. Before you get more confused, you got to understand the basics. This blog is going to be all about –

  • What happens in your body when you have diabetes?
  • What should be the goal of your diabetic diet?
  • What are the pros and cons of various type of rice available in the market?
  • Rice and glycemic index
  • Which is the best rice in diabetes?
  • How to eat rice in diabetes?

Before finding which is the best rice for diabetic patients – Let’s understand what happens in your body when you have diabetes?

We eat food and then our body digest, absorb and metabolize it to get energy and nutrition.

The carbohydrate present in your food gets digested and form glucose. Ideally, after digestion glucose should get absorbed by the cells and start the metabolism to release energy.

Insulin is the hormone that assists glucose to get into the cells. However, in type 2 diabetes, cells become resistant to insulin. Therefore even after the presence of insulin, cells keep their door shut and do not allow glucose to enter. As a result glucose level in your blood rises above the normal range. Your cells remain deprived of energy. You often feel fatigued and may start losing weight.

If the situation is not treated, then your body keeps producing extra insulin to reduce the blood glucose level though it’s not working anymore. There is a chance that your body is worn out to produce any further insulin leaving you left with no choice but to get insulin shots.

Therefore if you are diabetic, the sooner you address the problem is better.

Which is the best rice for diabetic patients -rice before removing the husk- the outer layer

What should be the goal of your diabetic diet?

Since your cells are not responding to insulin and not accepting glucose effectively, you got to be very careful with your diet.

You need to avoid foods rich in simple carbohydrates. It will digest quickly and shoot your blood glucose level fast.  Rather you should modify eating to ensure a steady blood glucose level throughout the day.

Which is the best rice for diabetic patients – the pros and cons of various types of rice

Rice can be largely classified based on its –

  • Colour (sometime based on the presence of concentration of pigment anthocyanin) – eg- red rice, black rice etc.
  • Post harvest handling ( based on boiling – raw or parboiled rice, degree of milling – single polished or polished white rice)
  • Structure of the grain – long grain white rice, short grain white rice, broken rice etc. Note that, structural difference in rice does not affect the nutritional value much. More or less they contain similar nutrients.

The market is loaded with various types of rice. Picking the right one is going to be easy once you know its pros and cons.

Which is the best rice for diabetic patients – Table 1: Pros and cons of different types of rice

Type of rice About Pros Cons
Brown rice After harvesting, only the inedible outer coating (husk) is removed. It is whole grain rice.   As it is less processed, contains high fiber, and retains maximum nutrients. Difficult to digest,   Take time to cook,   Chewy in texture   Less shelf life compared to white rice  
Germinated brown rice Popular in Korea and Japan. Brown rice is germinated with prolonging soaking. Germination improves the texture & nutrients availability.   Rice becomes soft and less chewy than brown rice.      
Yellow/ parboiled rice Brown rice is soaked in hot water and then boiled & dried. Then the outer coat (bran) is removed. These rice grains are translucent and yellowish in color.   Nutrients from the bran (outer layer) get into the inner space.   Nutritive value is close to brown rice. The outer coating (bran) is removed so contains less fiber than brown rice.
Semi polished rice Brown rice is taken for further little more processing. When it is half milled or half processed called semi-polished or single polished rice.   Contain better nutrition compared to polished white rice.   Moderate in fiber content so easy to digest.   Contain fewer nutrients compared to brown rice
White rice Brown rice is taken for further complete processing and polishing. The edible brown inner layer (bran) is removed. The rice is shiny white in color.   Easy to digest.   Take less time to cook. Lack of fiber and other nutrients.   Comparatively high on the glycemic index.
Red rice Red in color due to the presence of the pigment anthocyanin. Generally eaten without or after partially removing the outer coating (hull). It has a nutty flavor.   High in fiber Low on the glycemic index Has a typical nutty flavor, may not be acceptable for everyone.   Difficult to digest   Takes time to cook  
Black rice Contain the highest amount of anthocyanin, thus the color is black. There are various types of black rice. It has a mild nutty taste.   High in fiber Low on the glycemic index Has a typical nutty flavor, black in color, which may not be acceptable for everyone.   Difficult to digest   Takes time to cook
Wild rice It is not actually rice. It is the seed of a specific grass.   High in fiber Low on the glycemic index Has a typical nutty flavor, may not be acceptable for everyone.   Difficult to digest   Takes time to cook
Which is the best rice for diabetic patients -brown rice

Now let’s understand the nutritive value of the different types of rice getting popular these days. Table 2 and Table 3 will give you a clear picture of the nutritional profile of uncooked and cooked rice.

Which is the best rice for diabetic patients – Table 2: Comparison of nutritive value of the various types of rice (uncooked 100g) (1)

  White Rice (raw, long grain) Yellow Rice (Parboiled rice) Brown Rice Red Rice (Bhutanese) Black Rice
Energy (Kcal) 414.9 370 370 333 356
Carbohydrate (g) 91 78.68 77.24 80 75.56
Protein (g) 8.1 7.6 7.85 6.6 8.89
Fat (g) 0.8 2.65 2.92 0 3.33
Fiber (g) 1.5 3.5 3.52 5 2.2
Iron (mg) 0.91 1.16 1.47   2.4
Calcium (mg) 32 8 23 0 0
GI 73 38 68 55 42.3

Which is the best rice for diabetic patients – Table 3: Comparison of nutritive value of the various types of rice (cooked 100g) (2,3,4,5)

Nutrient white rice long grain White rice Short grain Red rice Wild Rice Long grain brown rice
Energy 130 130 109 101 124
Carbohydrate 28.1 23.78 23 21.34 25.85
Protein 2.69 2.36 2.3 3.99 2.77
Fat 0.28 0.19 0.8 0.34 0.98
Fiber 0.4 0 1.5 1.8 1.6

Even though there are various types of rice available, apart from fiber content, nutritionally there is not much difference. However, a wide range in glycemic index (38- 72) can be seen in table 2.

Best rice for diabetes -  red rice

Rice and Glycemic index

The Glycemic index is an important parameter that ranks carbohydrate-rich foods on the basis of how fast it can increase the blood glucose level after consumption.

The ranking goes like this –

  • 0-55 – Low glycemic index: good for diabetic people
  • 56 – 69 – medium glycemic index: okay for diabetic people
  • Above 70 – high glycemic index: not suitable for diabetic people

Therefore being a diabetic, eat food so that the GI of each meal remains low throughout the day.

You must have been told that rice has a high glycemic index thus better to avoid. Let me tell you that is not true. The Glycemic index of rice depends on few factors.

  • Amylose content of the rice grain – higher the concentration, lower the GI
  • Fibre content of the grain – higher the amount , lower the GI

Best rice for diabetes - Black rice

Rice Starch – Amylose and Glycemic Index

Amylose and amylopectin are two types of starch present in rice. The rice grain that contains higher amylose concentration is on the lower side of the glycemic index.

Rice contains a high concentration of amylose (25-30%) does not get gelatinized much during cooking. They are not sticky but quite farm in structure.

Rice containing medium amylose content (20-25%) are comparatively soft and stickier in nature.

Rice which becomes absolutely soft and sticky after cooking, generally contains a low amount of amylose (<20%).(6)

Rice Fibre and Glycemic Index

Fiber is the indigestible part of carbohydrate which slower the digestion process. It delays the conversion of complex carbohydrates to simple sugar. Therefore rice variety with higher fiber content has a low glycemic index. (7)

High fiber may not be great always –

Fiber does not get digested in our bodies. It helps to keep our body clean and provides a steady glucose raise in blood.

However, fiber may not be great for everyone. People who have a weak digestion capacity may experience stomach aches, bloating, flatulence, acidity, indigestion after consuming a high fiber meal.

Besides this, the excess fiber in the diet also prevents the absorption of iron and calcium in the body. Therefore if you have anemia or calcium deficiency, high fiber rice is not a good choice.

Which is the best rice for diabetic patients – Table 4: Glycemic index of Indian rice-

Indian Rice variety Glycemic Index
Njavara 74.8
Jyothi 73.1
Sona Masuri 72
Ponni 70
Surti Kolam 77
Basmati (varies with variety) 55-65
Parboiled rice (varies with variety) 38-72

Source –(8,9,10,11,12)

Which is the best rice for diabetic patients -raw rice and parboiled rice

Which is the best rice for diabetic patients?

Rice is a staple food for most Indians. Therefore choose your rice variety wisely considering the sustainability. The rice should be –

  • Moderate on fibre content
  • Preferably parboiled
  • Easy to digest
  • Pocket friendly

Choose any semi-polished/ single polished parboiled rice for regular consumption.

Single/ semi-polished rice contains a decent amount of fiber not too high like brown rice or not too low like any white rice.

Parboiled rice manages to retain nutrition like brown rice and is also easy to digest.

The study shows the GI of long-grained rice drops from 83 to 67 after going through the parboiling process. Therefore look for parboiled rice.

How to enjoy rice in diabetes?

Don’t stress a lot to find a rice variety with a low or moderate glycemic index. Just look for a parboiled single polished version.

It has been seen the glycemic index of rice dramatically drop while added with dal or vegetables. Having rice with dal, sabzi, or fish/ chicken/ egg is already a part of our tradition. So enjoy your meal.

Focus on the quantity of rice. Take double the amount of vegetables, dal, fish, curd, etc then the amount of rice. Only 1/4th of your plate should get covered with rice, rest 3/4th should have dal, veggies, etc.

Trick to cook rice in Diabetes – 

If you are a rice lover, follow this science backed evidence based trick to reduce the glycemic index of rice. Cook rice in large quantity which should be enough for 3-4 days. Allow the rice to cool down. Keep the pot in refrigerator. Next day, take out rice just the amount you need to consume for the meal. Heat it up with little water so that rice become hot and fluffy. Eat in moderation along with dal, sabzi, dahi etc. 

Research shows that the proportion of resistant starch retained after reheating the cold rice which prevent blood glucose spike to a large extent and reduce the glycemic index of rice to 54. Try this hack for better blood glucose response.


Bottom line –

Don’t waste your money and health running after expensive, difficult-to-digest red rice, black rice, or wild rice. You got to digest what you eat. Don’t load your system unnecessarily with fiber. Look for the parboiled version of any single polished rice. Eat moderately. Add ample amount of dal, vegetables with it. Enjoy your meal. You will be fine.

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Dr. Soma Chakrabarty is based in Hyderabad. She has 15 yrs of working experience in nutrition. She guides people to modify eating behavior and achieve goals for wellness. She believes in a practical diet that helps people to live rather than survive.

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Avarage Rating:
  • 0 / 10
  • Narayan Kaudinya , 6th August 2021 @ 10:26 pm

    Thank you

  • Anonymous , 20th April 2022 @ 11:40 am

    hello Dr Soma Chakrabarty, very informative article.

  • Anonymous , 28th April 2023 @ 9:21 am

    Basmati rice is safe to eat to diabitic patient.?

  • Raj Dutta , 23rd June 2023 @ 7:43 pm

    Thank you very much for this detail information. Thank you again.

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