Following a smart prediabetes diet means paying careful attention to carbohydrates and choosing high-fiber, nutritious choices, including grains. The Lark DPP check-in introduced rice, corn, and buckwheat as three grains that can affect your blood sugar in different ways because of their different contents of fiber and other nutrients. The forms you choose and the ways you prepare them also change their effects on your blood sugar.
Simply put, rice has a bad reputation when it comes to health. In many cases, the bad rap is well-deserved. Each cup of steamed white rice has 200 calories, 45 grams of carbohydrates, and less than 1 gram of fiber. An order of fried rice can have over 1,000 calories along with 160 grams of carbohydrates. Not surprisingly, researchers have linked consumption of white rice to higher risk for type 2 diabetes.
There is another side to the story, though. Brown rice, which is the whole grain form of rice, has three times the amount of fiber as and is naturally higher in iron and B vitamins than white rice. Furthermore, people who eat brown rice instead of white rice have a lower diabetes risk.
Choosing brown rice instead of white whenever possible is a good first step. This includes buying dry rice at the supermarket, ordering brown rice at Asian restaurants, and looking for brown rice cereal and brown rice cakes.
Here are some nutritious ideas for having brown rice.
- Brown rice cakes with peanut or almond butter.
- Homemade veggie burger patties with beans, egg, corn, mushrooms, spices, and onions.
- Soup with low-sodium broth, vegetables, and fish, chicken, tofu, or lean beef.
- Stuffed in bell peppers or eggplant with turkey burger or soy protein, Italian spices, and tomatoes.
- Tossed with shrimp, tofu, or chicken, plus diced vegetables, and heated in sesame or olive oil with peanuts and light soy sauce.
Brown rice has 45 grams of carbs per cup, so it is good to keep portions to ⅓ to ⅔ cup however you choose to prepare it.
Wait…isn’t corn a vegetable? Corn is a starchy vegetable, but it is also a grain when it comes in the form of cornmeal, corn flour, or products that contain them, such as cornflakes and other corn-based cereal products. Corn syrup is a highly processed, basically nutritionless, product derived from corn that is pure sugar.
As the Lark DPP check-in mentioned, corn is high in B vitamins, which are essential for normal energy production and metabolism in your body. Cornmeal and corn flour are both nearly pure carbs, mostly starch, but the whole grain versions are higher in fiber. Corn can spike blood sugar even faster than some other grains, so it is best to eat it with some vegetables for extra fiber, a source of protein, and/or some healthy fat to prevent blood sugar spikes.
Here are a few healthy ways to eat corn.
- Unsweetened whole-grain corn cereal with milk and strawberries.
- Cornbread made with sweetener or without sugar and served with cottage cheese.
- Air-popped, unbuttered popcorn and 1 oz. of cheese.
- Whole-grain corn tortillas with shredded chicken or beans,, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, salsa.
- Cornmeal whole-wheat pancakes served with egg whites tossed with spinach and sliced olives.
Buckwheat is a nutritious whole grain that may be worth adding to a healthy diet for prediabetes. You may also see it called groats or kasha, and soba noodles are made from buckwheat. Buckwheat is higher in protein, fiber, and some minerals than corn or brown rice, although it is still mostly starch. Despite its name, buckwheat is not related to wheat, and it has no gluten.
These are some ways to enjoy buckwheat.
- Buckwheat pancakes made at home from buckwheat flour, from the frozen foods aisle, or at some restaurants that serve them.
- Soba noodles tossed with vegetables and peanut sauce or sesame seeds and teriyaki sauce.
- Soba noodles in soup with vegetables and lean protein such as chicken, tofu, or fish.
- In a grain salad with feta cheese, oregano, diced tomatoes and cucumber, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.
Buckwheat is less common than rice and corn, but still available in large supermarkets. In addition, health food stores may have buckwheat flour, and Asian grocers may have soba noodles.
Whether it is rice, corn, buckwheat, or another grain, the healthiest way to enjoy it is to in their whole-grain versions with other nutritious foods and in moderation. These and other grains can be healthy parts of a prediabetes diet to lose weight and lower blood sugar.