Can I Have Rice If I Have Prediabetes?
Build healthy habits
from your phone
Managing prediabetes can mean making lifestyle changes to lower risk for developing type 2 diabetes, but what if you love rice? Is it necessary to choose between this high-carb, starchy food and health?
Eating rice, and favorite rice-based dishes, can be part of a healthy diet for prediabetes. The tricks are to choose the right kind of rice and to prepare it in healthy ways. Here is the scoop.
How Does Rice Affect Diabetes Risk?
This question has two answers, depending on the type of rice. Consumption of refined white rice has been linked to increased risk for diabetes, while consumption of brown rice, a whole grain, has been linked to decreased risk .
Refined or white rice is what is most likely in restaurants if they do not specify. Bean and rice burritos, fried and steamed rice, rice pilaf, and other rice dishes are all usually made with white rice.
Brown vs. White Rice for Prediabetes
How can the type of rice make such a big difference in its health effects for prediabetes? Brown rice is a whole grain, which means it contains its natural germ and bran. These are nutrient-rich components.
White rice is a refined grain. Its bran and germ have been stripped away, leaving it with less fiber and fewer phytonutrients. With less fiber and protein than brown rice, white rice can raise blood sugar more quickly. Spiking blood sugar too often can raise diabetes risk.
Making Rice Healthier for Prediabetes
How can you keep eating rice and lower diabetes risk? Here are a few tips.
1. Choose brown rice.
Eating brown rice instead of white rice can be an easy way to make rice work for your health. Dry and boil-in-bag brown rice are available in the rice section of most supermarkets. Brown rice cakes, brown rice cereal, and brown rice noodles are also common. Chinese and other East restaurants may offer steamed brown rice, and Indian restaurants may have brown Basmati rice on the menu.
2. Add protein, fat, and/or fiber.
White rice, and to a lesser extent brown rice, raise blood sugar because of the high amount of starch it contains. That starch is quickly digested into smaller carbohydrate molecules, which go into your bloodstream as glucose. White rice has a very high glycemic index because of its effect on blood sugar.
Adding protein, fat, or fiber to your meal or recipe can help slow digestion and absorption of rice and prevent blood sugar from spiking as dramatically. This means your meal or recipe will have a lower glycemic index.
- Lean proteins: skinless chicken, fish, tofu, egg or egg whites, reduced-fat cheese.
- Healthy fats: nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocado.
- Fiber: vegetables, beans.
3. Watch Portion Sizes
A cup of white or brown rice has about 200 calories and 45 grams of carbohydrates. That is already high before considering that the amount that is served is often far more. A simple way to prevent rice from harming a healthy diet is to keep portions small, about half a cup.
That may be a smaller amount than you are used to, but there are ways to make that half-cup go further. For example, when rice is a side dish, you can serve yourself less rice while filling your plate up with extra vegetables.
Another option is to swap half the rice in recipes, and instead use substitutes such as riced cauliflower or broccoli or shirataki noodles.
Rice can be part of a healthy diet for prediabetes, but making a few good choices when you eat rice can make a big difference. Using brown rice, adding protein, fiber, and fat, and keeping portions small can help lower diabetes risk. Lark's Diabete Prevention Program can help with the day-to-day choices that can have a big impact on weight loss and diabetes risk.
- Sun, Qi, Donna Spiegelman, Rob M. van Dam, Michelle D. Holmes, Vasanti S. Malik, Walter C. Willett, and Frank B. Hu. 2010. "White Rice, Brown Rice, and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in US Men and Women." Archives of Internal Medicine 170 (11): 961–69.