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Choosing the Right Rice for Blood Sugar Management: A Dietitian's Perspective

Updated: May 6


Rice is one of the most commonly consumed grains in the world and is a staple food for many cultures. However, its impact on blood sugar levels is a topic of concern for many individuals, especially those with diabetes or other metabolic conditions. I have compiled information about the glycemic index (GI) of different types of rice to help you make informed choices about your diet.


Why Rice Affects Your Blood Sugar and What You Can Do About It

Rice is a staple in diets worldwide, but did you know that not all rice is created equal when it comes to your blood sugar? Have you ever noticed feeling a bit off after eating certain types of rice? The answer often lies in the glycemic index (GI), which measures how quickly foods raise blood sugar levels.



Rice Revealed: Choose the Best Type for Your Health

Let’s explore the GI of popular rice types and discover which ones can help keep your blood sugar in check:

  • Short-Grain Rice: Often used in sushi, this type has a higher GI (68-92). It’s delicious but can cause quicker spikes in blood sugar.

  • Medium-Grain Rice: Like Arborio used in risotto, it has a moderate GI (56-69), making it a better option for steadier energy.

  • Long-Grain Rice: Varieties like Basmati and Jasmine have lower GIs (50-58), ideal for long-lasting satiety without the spikes.

  • Specialty Rices: Brown rice (GI 50) and wild rice (GI 57) offer more nutrients and fiber, slowing down sugar absorption and supporting overall health.


How Cooking Methods Impact Rice’s Glycemic Index

Did you know that how you cook your rice can also affect its GI? Cooking rice with a bit of oil or vinegar can help lower its GI. On the other hand, overcooking it can make it mushy and raise the GI. A simple trick to further reduce the GI is to boil your rice and then drain the water, removing some of the starches released during cooking.

Additionally, processed rice products, such as instant rice or white rice, have a higher glycemic index compared to whole grain or brown rice.


Name of rice with their GIs

Here are some common types of rice and their estimated glycemic index values:

  1. White rice: 73

  2. Basmati rice: 58

  3. Jasmine rice: 50-58

  4. Brown rice: 50

  5. Wild rice: 57

  6. Arborio rice: 69

  7. Black rice: 42-68

  8. Red rice: 55-88

  9. Sushi rice: 68-92

  10. Sona masuri: 56-69

  11. Parboiled rice: 38-50

  12. Calrose rice: 68-83

  13. Karuppu Kavuni rice: 55-70

  14. Koshihikari rice: 75-92

  15. Thooyamalli rice: 50-60

Please note that these values are approximate and can vary based on factors such as cooking time, processing, and individual differences in digestion.



What is kerala rice?

Kerala rice also known as Matta rice or Rosematta rice, is a type of rice that is commonly grown and consumed in the Indian state of Kerala. It is a variety of red rice that is known for its nutritional benefits and unique flavor. Kerala rice is typically unpolished, which means that the outer layer of the rice grain, called the bran, is not removed during processing. This makes Kerala rice more nutritious compared to polished white rice, as the bran contains fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Kerala rice is also known by other names such as Matta rice, Rosematta rice, or Palakkadan Matta rice. It has a reddish-brown color, and its grains are short and thick. Kerala rice is a staple in many Kerala households and is often used to make traditional dishes such as red rice dosa, puttu, and idiyappam. It is also gaining popularity in other parts of India and abroad due to its health benefits and unique flavor.


What is the GI of Kerala rice?


The glycemic index (GI) of Kerala rice can vary depending on factors such as the variety of rice, cooking method, and processing. However, in general, unpolished red rice like Kerala rice tends to have a lower glycemic index compared to polished white rice.

According to some studies, the GI of unpolished red rice ranges from 55 to 68, which is considered a medium glycemic index. This is lower than the GI of polished white rice, which is around 73. However, it's important to note that the GI values of different types of rice can vary based on many factors, and these values are approximate.

Overall, Kerala rice is a nutritious option for those looking for a healthier alternative to polished white rice. Its high fiber content, lower GI, and unique flavor make it a popular choice among those who are health-conscious or following a special diet.



What is the GI of brown rice

The glycemic index (GI) of brown rice is estimated to be around 50, which is considered a low to medium GI. This is lower than the GI of white rice, which is around 73. Brown rice has a lower GI because it contains the bran and germ layers of the rice grain, which are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These components slow down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates in the rice, resulting in a more gradual and steady release of glucose into the bloodstream. This makes brown rice a healthier option compared to white rice, especially for those with diabetes or those looking to manage their blood sugar levels. However, it's important to note that the GI of brown rice can vary based on factors such as the variety of rice, cooking method, and individual differences in digestion.



GI of red rice

The glycemic index (GI) of red rice can vary depending on factors such as the variety of rice, cooking method, and processing. However, in general, unpolished red rice tends to have a lower GI compared to polished white rice.

According to some studies, the GI of unpolished red rice ranges from 55 to 68, which is considered a medium glycemic index. This is lower than the GI of polished white rice, which is around 73. The glycemic index of red rice may be slightly higher than brown rice, which has a GI of around 50.

Overall, unpolished red rice like Kerala rice or Bhutanese red rice is a nutritious option for those looking for a healthier alternative to polished white rice. Its high fiber content, lower GI, and unique flavor make it a popular choice among those who are health-conscious or following a special diet.


GI of brown basmati rice

The glycemic index (GI) of brown basmati rice is estimated to be around 50, which is considered a low to medium GI. This is lower than the GI of white basmati rice, which is around 58. Brown basmati rice has a lower GI because it contains the bran and germ layers of the rice grain, which are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These components slow down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates in the rice, resulting in a more gradual and steady release of glucose into the bloodstream. This makes brown basmati rice a healthier option compared to white basmati rice, especially for those with diabetes or those looking to manage their blood sugar levels. However, it's important to note that the GI of brown basmati rice can vary based on factors such as the variety of rice, cooking method, and individual differences in digestion.


GI of Jasmine Rice

Jasmine rice, another long-grain rice but primarily grown in Thailand, is known for its distinctive jasmine aroma and slightly sticky texture when cooked. It has a higher glycemic index, usually between 68 to 80, which can lead to quicker spikes in blood sugar levels. While it provides a good source of energy, its higher GI makes it less ideal for those with diabetes or those concerned with glycemic control.


Sona Masuri GI

Sona Masuri rice, a medium-grain rice widely cultivated in the Indian subcontinent, is a popular choice due to its lightweight and aromatic qualities. It's often considered a healthier alternative to the more polished or refined white rice varieties, partly due to its lower starch content.

The glycemic index (GI) of Sona Masuri rice is generally classified as medium. It tends to range between 56 to 69, which is lower than the GI of typical white rice but higher than brown rice and other whole grain varieties. This means it can still lead to moderate increases in blood sugar levels, but it may have a less dramatic effect compared to high GI rice types.


GI of Calrose rice

Calrose rice, primarily grown in California and a staple in many Asian dishes, has a distinctively sticky and soft texture after cooking, which makes it a favored choice for sushi. However, when it comes to its glycemic index (GI), Calrose rice tends to rank higher compared to other rice varieties. The GI of Calrose rice generally falls within the medium to high range, typically around 68 to 83. This higher glycemic index indicates that Calrose rice can cause quicker and more significant spikes in blood glucose levels. This characteristic might not make it the most suitable option for individuals managing diabetes or those who are sensitive to blood sugar fluctuations. Therefore, while Calrose rice offers culinary benefits, its higher GI means it should be consumed in moderation, especially by those needing to control their glycemic response.


GI of Arborio vs Jasmine rice

Arborio and Jasmine rice are two distinct varieties, each bringing unique characteristics to the table, making them suitable for different culinary uses. Arborio rice, originating from Italy, is best known for its use in risotto. It has a high starch content, specifically amylopectin, which gives it a creamy texture when cooked, ideal for absorbing flavors and creating a rich, luxurious dish. Arborio rice typically has a medium glycemic index (GI) ranging from 65 to 69, which can impact blood sugar levels moderately.

Jasmine rice, a long-grain variety from Thailand, is appreciated for its fragrant, floral aroma and a slightly sticky but fluffy texture when cooked. It is commonly used in Southeast Asian cooking for dishes like stir-fries and curries. Jasmine rice generally has a lower GI compared to Arborio, usually between 50 and 58, making it a better option for those looking to manage their blood sugar levels more effectively.

Nutritionally, both types provide essential carbohydrates and some protein, but Jasmine rice often comes out slightly ahead with a lower GI, making it more favorable for blood sugar management. The choice between Arborio and Jasmine rice should consider both the specific culinary application and dietary considerations, particularly for those conscious of glycemic impact.


Murmura (puffed rice) GI

Murmura, also known as puffed rice, is a popular snack in many parts of the world, especially in India, where it's used in dishes like bhel puri and jhalmuri. The glycemic index (GI) of murmura is relatively high. Typically, the GI for puffed rice can range from about 70 to 85. This higher glycemic index is due to the processing method, which involves heating rice kernels under high pressure, causing them to puff up. This process effectively gelatinizes the starch inside the rice, making it more rapidly digestible and thereby raising its GI.

Due to its high GI, murmura can cause a quick spike in blood sugar levels, making it less suitable for individuals managing diabetes or those trying to maintain stable blood glucose levels. It is often recommended to consume puffed rice in moderation, especially for those with metabolic conditions, and it can be balanced with lower GI foods that are high in fiber, protein, or healthy fats to mitigate its impact on blood sugar.


Karuppu Kavuni Rice GI

Karuppu Kavuni rice, also known as black Kavuni rice or black sticky rice, is an ancient variety of rice originating from Tamil Nadu, India, and is known for its rich nutritional profile. This rice is unpolished and retains its bran, where much of the fiber and antioxidants are stored. Karuppu Kavuni rice is notable for its higher content of anthocyanins, which are powerful antioxidants found in dark-colored fruits and grains.

The glycemic index of Karuppu Kavuni rice tends to be lower than that of white rice varieties due to its whole grain composition. While specific GI values can vary, black rice varieties typically range from a medium to low GI. This lower GI makes Karuppu Kavuni rice a healthier choice compared to white rice, particularly for those looking to manage blood sugar levels, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and increase their intake of nutrients that are often lost in more heavily processed grains.



Koshihikari rice GI

Koshihikari rice, a popular variety of short-grain rice from Japan, is highly prized for its sweet flavor and sticky, moist texture, making it ideal for sushi and other Japanese dishes. Due to its starch composition, which is rich in amylopectin, Koshihikari rice tends to have a higher glycemic index (GI). The GI for Koshihikari rice is generally considered to be on the higher side, typically around 70 or more. This means it can cause quicker and higher spikes in blood sugar levels compared to long-grain varieties like Basmati or Jasmine, which have lower GIs.

For those managing diabetes or looking to maintain stable blood sugar levels, it’s important to be mindful of the portion sizes when consuming high-GI rices like Koshihikari. Pairing it with foods high in fiber, protein, or healthy fats can help mitigate its rapid impact on blood glucose levels. Despite its higher GI, Koshihikari rice remains a cherished staple in Japanese cuisine, valued for its distinct taste and texture that complement traditional dishes beautifully.


Thooyamalli rice GI

Thooyamalli rice, a traditional variety from Tamil Nadu. Pearl-white in color, short-grained and known for its distinct flavor, this white rice is naturally resilient to pests thereby not requiring fertilizers during cultivation and is inherently organic in nature. The glycemic index of Thooyamalli rice is around 50-60, which falls under the category of low GI foods.


Mappillai Samba rice GI

Mappillai Samba rice, another traditional variety native to Tamil Nadu, India, is known for its rich red color and its use in local culinary traditions. Traditional rice varieties like Mappillai Samba are typically less polished and retain more of their natural bran, which is high in fiber.

The high fiber content is a crucial factor that generally contributes to a lower GI, as it slows down the process of digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, thus reducing the spike in blood sugar levels. Therefore, Mappillai Samba rice might be expected to have a lower GI compared to more refined rice types, which is beneficial for blood sugar management.


Does boiling and throwing water from the rice reduces it's GI

Yes, boiling and discarding the water from the rice during the cooking process can reduce its glycemic index (GI). This is because the starch in rice absorbs water during cooking, and some of the starch gets released into the cooking water. Discarding the water after boiling can remove some of the starch, resulting in a lower GI.

Some studies have shown that discarding the cooking water can reduce the GI of rice by up to 20-25%. However, it's important to note that the exact reduction in GI can vary depending on the type of rice, cooking time, and other factors. Furthermore, discarding the cooking water can also lead to a loss of some nutrients, such as thiamin and folate.

Overall, boiling and discarding the water from rice can be an effective way to reduce its GI. However, it's important to consider the potential nutrient loss and balance it with the benefits of reducing the GI. Another way to reduce the GI of rice is to choose varieties like brown rice, basmati rice, or red rice that have a lower GI to begin with.


GI of Surti kolam rice

Unfortunately, I could not find a specific glycemic index (GI) value for Surti Kolam rice in my database or in published research. The GI of a particular type of rice can vary depending on various factors such as the degree of milling, processing, cooking time, and individual differences in digestion.

However, based on the general characteristics of Kolam rice, which is a type of short-grain, aromatic rice commonly grown in the Indian states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, it is likely to have a medium to high GI. Short-grain rice varieties tend to have a higher GI than long-grain rice varieties, and the degree of milling can also affect the GI. Polished white rice, which is commonly consumed in India, has a high GI value of around 73.


Ready to Transform Your Diet?

Managing your blood sugar doesn't have to be a challenge. With the right knowledge and choices, you can enjoy delicious meals while keeping your health on track. Are you ready to take control of your health with personalized dietary advice? Book a consultation with Dr. Sumaiya today and learn how tailored nutritional plans can make a difference in your life.



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Many of our clients have seen remarkable improvements in their health by making informed dietary choices. Here’s what one of them had to say:

"Since starting my personalized diet plan with Dr. Sumaiya, I’ve not only managed my diabetes better but also enjoyed my meals more. I never knew how much of a difference the right type of rice could make!" - [Name, anonymized for privacy]

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FAQ About Choosing Rice for Diabetes Management


1. How does the age of rice impact its suitability for diabetics?

At Dr. Sumaiya’s NutriCare Clinic, we note that aged rice, which is dryer, can have a slightly lower glycemic impact than fresh rice. This is because the aging process reduces moisture content, potentially affecting how the body processes the starches.

2. What is the effect of soaking rice before cooking for diabetics?

Soaking rice can actually lower its glycemic index. By soaking rice, you reduce the starch content that can cause blood sugar spikes. We recommend soaking rice for at least 30 minutes before cooking.

3. Can the color of rice indicate its health benefits for diabetes management?

Darker rice varieties, such as red or black rice, generally contain more fiber and antioxidants than white rice. These properties can help slow down the release of sugar into the bloodstream, making them better choices for diabetes management.

4. Is parboiled rice a good option for diabetics, and how does it compare to other types?

Parboiled rice is an excellent choice for diabetics as its processing increases the rice's nutritional value and lowers its glycemic index compared to regular white rice. It retains more nutrients and its starch becomes more resistant to digestion.

5. How can the combination of rice with other foods affect diabetes management?

Combining rice with foods high in fiber, healthy fats, or proteins can significantly stabilize blood sugar levels. For example, pairing rice with beans, a source of fiber and protein, can help mitigate the rice's glycemic response.

For tailored advice and more unique dietary strategies, consider scheduling a session with Dr. Sumaiya’s NutriCare Clinic. We're dedicated to helping you manage your diabetes effectively with personalized nutritional guidance.

6. Is Sushi Rice Healthier Than White Rice?

Sushi rice and regular white rice are quite similar in terms of their nutritional profiles, as both are forms of polished white rice. However, sushi rice is typically a type of short-grain white rice, which is stickier once cooked due to its higher content of amylopectin, a type of starch. Nutritionally, sushi rice and regular white rice have nearly identical calorie content, carbohydrate levels, and lack of fiber since the husk, bran, and germ are removed during processing. Both have high glycemic indices, typically around 70-73, which can lead to quick spikes in blood sugar levels after consumption. Therefore, neither type offers significant health benefits over the other, and neither is particularly beneficial for those managing diabetes or looking to control blood sugar levels. The choice between sushi rice and regular white rice should primarily depend on the texture and flavor preferences for specific dishes rather than health considerations.

7. Which is healthier  jasmine or basmati rice ?

For those prioritizing glycemic control and nutrient intake, Basmati rice is generally considered healthier due to its lower GI and slightly higher nutrient content. However, Jasmine rice can still be part of a healthy diet, especially if enjoyed in moderation and paired with other nutrient-dense foods to balance the meal.




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