People with diabetes should include a well-balanced and nutritious diet. According to several medical studies, excessive white rice consumption has potential health risks because it is rich in carbohydrates, which can lead to increased blood sugar levels. However, people with diabetes can still enjoy white rice by using a cooking method that reduces sugar levels.
The best way to cook white rice for diabetics is by removing the starch and pairing it with high protein foods. To do this, you’ll need to wash the rice and boil it down until a creamy texture appears on the surface. Once it’s done, you can strain the starchy water and enjoy your rice.
My article will review the nutrition properties of rice and the various types. I will review benefits and health concerns for diabetic patients. I will also provide a step-by-step guide on how to cook it properly to reduce the starch.
White Rice Nutrition Properties
Individuals who have diabetes will have various dietary restrictions regarding the consumption of certain foods. This is because carbohydrate levels and glycemic index of some food sources can be detrimental to their health.
A study done by the American Diabetes Association found that higher frequency of servings and portions of white rice a person consumes, the bigger the probabilities are of developing type two diabetes. Also, this investigation found that people with diabetes have a 10% higher risk for other complications if they eat it more often.
So what are the properties of rice that make it so concerning for people with diabetes if consumed regularly?
How Rice Properties Affect Diabetics
Rice is notorious for high carb and high glycemic index (GI). This means that it can rapidly increase the blood glucose to high levels and can escalate insulin resistance, which makes it challenging to control your blood sugar.
Brown rice is a healthier choice compared to white rice. It is still high in carbs and ranks high on the glycemic index (50) but is significantly lower than white rice (GI of 72). In addition to lower GI, brown rice has incredible heart-health benefits such as lowering cholesterol.
Rice itself does not contain sugar, it does have a lot of starch, a complex carbohydrate containing glucose. As a result, once your body starts breaking down this component, it travels through your bloodstream.
Advantages Of White Rice
- Helps stabilize blood sugar levels when accompanied by non-starchy vegetables, lean proteins, and healthful fats
- Rich in carbohydrates, which provide a lot of energy rapidly
- Contributes to heart health by improving cholesterol levels and reducing the risks of heart diseases, including metabolic syndrome
- Easily digestible
- Contains other nutrients such as potassium, zinc, magnesium, iron, calcium, and vitamin B
Disadvantages Of White Rice
- Contains a lot of starch, and if consumed regularly and in over-abundance, can spike blood sugar levels
- Low in fiber, which acts to delay the absorption of sugar in your body
- High glycaemic index (72), which may cause blood sugar levels to increase
- Rich in carbohydrates which, when broken down, quickly converts into sugar, specifically glucose
Types Of Rice
Here are some types of rice that are recommended for diabetics:
- Brown rice: Rich in dietary fiber and lower amounts of carbs compared to white rice. Highly recommended for type two diabetes.
- Wholegrain Basmati rice: Has the lowest glycemic index of all rice types (between 50-58). It slowly releases its energy after digestion, which helps keep the blood sugar levels more neutral or stable.
- Wild rice: Contains a higher fiber content than white rice and can help reduce blood sugar.
Other healthier alternatives to rice if you want to change it up a bit and implement them into your diet.
- Cauliflower rice: Significantly lower in carbs with a low GI (between 0-15), and can be seasoned with salt, pepper, and herbs.
- Quinoa: Contains fiber and protein, which is essential to maintaining blood sugar stability.
Check out my detailed article for more white rice substitutions and ideas:
How Much Rice Can Diabetics Eat?
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) suggests that someone with diabetes should consume half of their daily carbs from whole grains, which take longer to break down and reduce the risk of increasing blood sugar.
I recommend that people with diabetes remain mindful of their portions since one cup of rice contains around forty-five grams of carbs. It is wise to choose a wide variety of rice low in carbs and GI scores.
How Do You Cook White Rice For A Diabetic
Whether you prefer the flavor or it is more accessible to you, you can eat white rice if you have diabetes as long as you track the number of carbs taken and consume it occasionally.
Implementing white rice from time to time in your diet can be possible by focusing on cooking low-starch rice.
An important thing to know is that many studies suggested that parboiled rice has proved a lower impact on blood sugar levels, making it a safer option for people with diabetes. Below is a recipe for cooking low-carb rice.
How To Cook Starch Free Rice For Diabetes – Step by Step:
- Use a large bowl and add rice. Wash it thoroughly and in a pan, boil water with the equivalent of three times the quantity of the rice that you want to cook.
- Add the freshly washed rice into the boiling water and cook on medium flame for five to six minutes.
- Once the rice starts to boil, a thick creamy substance will show on the surface. This is the starch.
- Let the rice cook until the water is largely reduced in quantity and the rice grains are floating on the top.
- After checking if the rice is well cooked and tender, remove the pan and strain the excess starchy water.
- Now you have perfectly cooked white rice for a person with diabetes. Don’t forget to serve it with non-starchy vegetables and rich protein foods.
Diabetics’ rice ideas:
- Chinese fried rice (diabetic friendly): You’ll need to heat the oil in a non-stick pan and add green peppers with some onions. Sauté on a high flame with beans and carrots, add cooked brown rice and soy sauce, and mix well.
- Cauliflower rice: Place the cauliflower into the food processor, then microwave it. Heat the oil in a skillet on medium heat and add garlic, ginger, and salt flavorings. Add the cauliflower and stir until heated thoroughly.
- Starch-free rice with vegetables: Use the low-starch white rice cooking method and serve it with your favorite non-starchy vegetables and lean protein sources like eggs, white fish, chicken breast, or tuna.
White rice is a common fear among people with diabetes. As a clinician, I support the “never say never” advice. I will never tell a patient that they can NEVER have any given food, including white rice.
People who have diabetes may have to do some experimenting with testing blood sugars after meals to see how it affects them. I recommend testing 2 hours after consuming the first bite of your meal, but check with your provider or diabetes care specialist to see if they follow different criteria.
If you choose to include white rice in your meal, remember to watch your portions. Keep in mind that 1/3 cup white rice is approximately 15 g of carbohydrate (one “carb choice” if you are counting your carbs). That being said, one cup of cooked white rice is three carb choices if you are counting carbs. For some diabetic meal plans, this will be the carbohydrate allotment for one meal.
Whether you love white rice or you love Chinese cuisine, I recommend selecting a very small portion of rice and loading up your plate with tasty non-starchy vegetables and lean proteins. Seasonings and sauces will add to the flavor, and you won’t feel deprived.
Schedule an appointment with a certified diabetes care and education specialist or registered dietitian to develop an individualized meal plan, tailored to you.