Basmati rice is a crowd-pleaser that is famous around the world for its unique flavour. But is it a good option for diabetics? Does it raise your blood sugar levels? Know how basmati rice can be beneficial for diabetics and what portion of it you can include in your daily meal.
The first thing that comes to mind when you think of basmati rice is its aroma, which is apt as basmati loosely translates to “queen of fragrance”. This staple in Indian rice dishes is very popular all around the world for its flavour. But what about its nutritional value? Is basmati rice good for diabetics? Is it better than white rice when it comes to blood sugar control? Know all about how to use this staple grain to your advantage.
Basmati Rice: Nutritional Profile
Basmati rice is a variety of long-grain, aromatic rice that is cultivated mainly in India and Pakistan.
Basmati rice is available in three types, namely white, brown, and parboiled rice, based on how the rice grain is processed. They are:
- White basmati rice: This is a processed form of rice. In this type, the grain’s outer layers like the hull and bran, as well as the germ (the most nutritious part of the grain) are removed.
- Brown basmati rice: This is an unprocessed form of rice. In this, only the hull is removed, retaining the fibrous bran layer and the germ, which is rich in nutrients.
- Parboiled basmati rice: Parboiling is a process in which the rice grains are soaked in water, then steamed and slow dried while still in the husk. This process helps the grains retain more of their vital nutrients and causes the starch to become gelatinised.
All three varieties provide essential nutrients. White basmati rice is low in carbohydrates and calories, which makes it beneficial for blood sugar control, and brown basmati rice is good for diabetics as it contains more fibre, protein and nutrients. Parboiled basmati rice retains the highest amount of nutrients along with resistant starch.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 100 g portions of brown, white, and parboiled basmati rice contain the following nutrients:
|Brown basmati rice, uncooked
|White basmati rice, uncooked
|Parboiled basmati rice, uncooked
|Total lipid (Fat)
|Fibre, total dietary
How is Basmati Rice Good For Diabetes?
Basmati rice can be a regular portion of your diabetic diet, as it has a low to medium glycaemic index (GI) score. Basmati rice GI score is between 50 and 58, which is low when compared to other types of rice.
Parboiled basmati rice has the lowest GI score due to the presence of resistant starch, which is indigestible and does not release glucose in your gut.
A low GI score implies that when consumed, basmati rice will gradually increase your blood sugar levels, instead of causing a sudden spike. This makes it a better option for diabetics when compared to white rice (GI score 72), which can destabilise your blood sugar levels when consumed.
Basmati rice also has a higher amount of protein and fibre compared to other types of rice. Both protein and fibre digest much slower compared to carbohydrates, and thus release glucose into your bloodstream at a slower rate. This helps keep your blood sugar levels stable.
Protein and fibre also keep you satiated for a longer time, which can help in portion control and reduce overeating or snacking.
The fibre in basmati rice becomes the food for gut-friendly bacteria in the large intestine. These bacteria can help improve insulin sensitivity in your body, thus helping you maintain good glycaemic control. The resistant starch in parboiled basmati rice also acts like dietary fibre.
How to Have Basmati Rice for Diabetes?
The best way to prepare basmati rice is by steaming it, as the GI score of steamed basmati rice is lower than boiled rice.
You can substitute white rice or other starchy foods in your diet with basmati rice. You can serve basmati rice with low-carb vegetables and healthy sources of protein like dal, tofu, fish, shrimp or prawns in order to make up a healthy and balanced meal.
Make sure to limit your consumption of cooked basmati rice to one cup (150 g) a day. As basmati rice has a considerable amount of carbohydrates, it is important to exercise portion control when consuming it.
What is the Best Time To Consume Basmati Rice?
As basmati rice is a rich source of carbohydrates, consuming it at lunch can boost your energy levels. Try to limit your consumption of basmati rice (especially the parboiled and brown varieties) to small quantities (half a cup) at night, as the delayed digestion caused by its high fibre content can lead to disturbed sleep.
What Are The Risks of Overconsumption of Basmati Rice?
It is essential to maintain portion control as the quantity of rice determines the number of carbohydrates, starch, and fat going into the body. Consuming large portions of basmati rice can increase your carbohydrate intake, leading to spikes in your blood sugar levels. A diabetic patient should not consume more than 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates in a meal, so plan your portion sizes accordingly.
What are the Other Health Benefits of Basmati Rice?
Basmati rice has numerous other health benefits other than controlling blood sugar levels.
Better heart health
Basmati rice can reduce the risk of heart disease. The soluble fibre binds with the cholesterol in your intestine and prevents it from being absorbed into your bloodstream. This lowers your blood cholesterol levels and the risk of high blood pressure caused due to accumulation of fat (plaque) on the walls of your blood vessels. Therefore, it decreases the risk of heart disease.
Better brain health
Basmati rice is a source of B-complex vitamins like thiamine (B1), niacin (B3), and folate (B9). These vitamins are crucial for the healthy functioning of your brain and nervous system, and their deficiency can lead to neurological disorders like memory problems, dementia, brain fog, Wernicke’s encephalopathy, etc.
Reduced risk of cancer
A high fibre-containing diet may reduce your risk of breast, ovary, endometrial, and gastrointestinal cancer. It is found to be particularly effective in reducing the risk of bowel cancer. The fibre in basmati rice feeds the bacteria in your bowel and forms a compound called butyrate. It can help maintain the health of your bowel by selectively killing the cancer cells and preventing the formation of tumours.
Don’t Have Time To Read?
- Basmati rice is a long-grained, aromatic variety of rice that is cultivated in India.
- Basmati rice is available in three types, namely white, brown, and parboiled basmati rice. The difference between the three lies in how the grains are processed after harvest.
- Basmati rice has a lower glycaemic index (GI) score compared to other types of rice that are commonly consumed, which means, when digested, it increases blood sugar levels slowly.
- The best way to consume basmati rice is by steaming it. Adding low-carbohydrate vegetables and protein-rich foods like dal, tofu, seafood, etc. can help balance out your meal.
- Limit your daily intake of cooked basmati rice to a maximum of 150 g a day and 45 to 60 g a meal.
- The best time to consume basmati rice would be as a part of your lunch. Limit the consumption of basmati rice at night as slow digestion can interfere with your sleep.
- Apart from controlling blood sugar levels, it improves heart and brain health and also helps prevent cancer.
- Overconsumption can lead to an increase in your blood sugar levels and the worsening of your condition. Thus, it is important to exercise portion control when consuming basmati rice.
- Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading diabetologists, order medicines, book lab tests, integrate blood sugar monitoring and other devices to get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Also, check out our Diabetes Management program which provides 360º care. Let’s treat diabetes together.
Friendly Asked Questions
Rice is a carbohydrate-rich food, which can cause a spike in your blood sugar levels. Boiling or steaming rice does not make a difference in its effects on blood sugar levels, but steaming can help preserve the water-soluble nutrients in rice. Try to consume fibre-rich varieties of rice like brown rice, parboiled rice or basmati rice, as fibre can help stabilise your blood sugar levels.
Basmati rice has a lower glycaemic index (50 to 58) when compared to white rice (72). White rice can increase your blood sugar levels quickly. Brown or parboiled basmati rice is rich in protein and fibre, which raises your blood sugar levels gradually. Thus basmati rice is a better option for diabetics as it can help stabilise blood sugar levels.
Wild rice, Japonica rice and Konjac rice are some of the low carbohydrate varieties of rice that are widely available.
A 100 g serving of brown basmati rice contains 0 grams of sugar, and the same quantity of white basmati rice contains about 0.51 g of sugar. If you are still wondering if diabetics can eat basmati rice, then the answer is yes. Brown basmati rice is comparatively good for diabetics.