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Is white rice worse for people with diabetes than brown rice? Not really.

For those who cherish rice as part of their culinary heritage or simply enjoy its versatility in cooking, there are ways to continue relishing it while managing diabetes.


White text with a purple background and the hangry woman logo. Text reads, you don't have to swap white rice for brown rice, and includes an illustration of a bowl of rice.

White rice isn’t a bad food choice for people with diabetes, and here’s why.

Diabetes is a condition that affects how your body processes glucose obtained from food.

As a result, people with diabetes often need to focus on their eating patterns to help balance their blood sugar levels effectively.

Among these changes, rice is often a common food that people with diabetes are initially told to cut white rice out of our diets, or swap to other grains instead.

The question that arises is which type of rice is better for diabetes – the white or brown one?

Rice As a Cultural Staple

For many cultures, rice is a major part of their daily diet.

When I was first told what I could and couldn’t eat with diabetes, rice was one of the first dishes a dietitian told me to eliminate.

I just kept thinking, “What?” “Why?”

It’s easy to cook, affordable and provides the necessary energy for the body to function throughout the day.

Rice, a staple in many cultures worldwide, has a rich and varied history that intertwines with the traditions and celebrations of numerous societies.

From the vibrant festivals of Asia to the hearty meals of Latin America, rice is more than just a food item; it’s a symbol of unity, prosperity, and communal bonding.

While it’s true that rice is high in carbohydrates, it’s essential to understand that not all carbohydrates are created equal.

For individuals with diabetes, this doesn’t mean that rice must be completely erased from your diet.

Different strains of rice possess unique properties. For instance, brown rice has a lower glycemic index (GI) than white rice, making it a slightly better option for those managing their blood sugar levels.

For those who cherish rice as part of their culinary heritage or simply enjoy its versatility in cooking, there are ways to continue relishing it while managing diabetes.

Choosing low-GI varieties like basmati or brown rice, managing portion sizes, and balancing it with vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats can create a balanced meal that satiates without spiking blood sugar levels.

Remember, it’s about creating a harmonious balance on your plate that aligns with your health goals while still allowing you to enjoy the foods that hold cultural or personal significance.

So go ahead, savor that bowl of rice and respect both your health and your heritage.

White Rice Vs. Brown Rice: Understanding Nutritional Differences

Brown rice is a whole grain, with all parts of the grain intact, which makes brown rice richer in terms of vitamins, minerals, and fiber content.

White rice is processed to remove the bran and embryo. It has a lower fiber content but is often preferred for its softer texture and taste.

Brown rice has more fiber content, which is vital in slowing digestion, leading to a slower rise in blood sugar levels.

In contrast, white rice on its own can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar due to its high glycemic index.

How Does Glycemic Index Affect Blood Sugar Levels?

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure that determines how fast carbohydrates are broken down in the body and how quickly they increase blood sugar levels.

High GI foods can raise blood sugar levels rapidly, while low GI foods can help maintain a stable blood sugar level.

Brown rice has a lower glycemic index than white rice, making it a good choice for people with diabetes.

However, it’s important to remember that many factors, such as meal composition, portion size, and timing, can also influence the GI.

Rice Recipes to Maintain Blood Sugar Levels

Rice pairs well with various ingredients and can be added to soups, salads, and entrees. Here are some tasty recipe ideas to try with either brown or white rice:

  1. Chickpea Curry
  2. Greek-Style Pan Roasted Chicken & Rice
  3. Ancho Chile Rubbed Ribeye
  4. Coconut Milk Rice

To Sum It Up

In conclusion, brown rice provides a better nutritional profile and is more blood sugar-friendly than white rice, but white rice isn’t off the table.

It’s also important to remember that other factors, such as portion size, timing, and type of meal, also play a significant role in maintaining stable blood sugar levels.

Meals pairing together fat, fiber, and protein make a huge difference in balancing your blood sugars.

You should also consult with a healthcare professional and follow a balanced meal plan.

With the help of our recipe ideas, incorporating rice and maintaining stable blood sugar levels can now be a delicious and enjoyable experience.

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About Mila

Hi! I'm Mila.

I’m earning my Master’s degree in Applied nutrition.

I’m currently an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach living with  LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults, a slow-progressing form of autoimmune Type 1 diabetes) I love food, travel, and my kitchen, and teaching you about diabetes self-management.

I’m here to help you live your best life possible diabetes by showing you how to create simple, blood-sugar friendly and delicious meals and tips on diabetes self-care.

Be sure to download my FREE Diabetes Community App Glucose Guide, or reach out for FREE 1:1 diabetes health and habit coaching.

How can I help with your diabetes management?

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