Is Brown Rice Good for People with Diabetes?

You don't need to ban rice from your pantry because of blood sugar concern. Rice isn't off-limits for people with diabetes!

Rice is one of the most commonly eaten foods on earth, an essential ingredient in everything from stuffed cabbage rolls to takeout-inspired grain bowls. This grain is often considered off-limits for those of us with diabetes—but as it turns out, removing rice from our diets completely isn’t necessary to balance blood sugar. You simply need to know the right type of rice to choose.

Is Brown Rice Healthy for People with Diabetes?

Absolutely! Unlike white rice, a refined grain that’s been stripped of its bran and germ and causes blood sugar spikes, brown rice is a whole grain with its healthy nutrients intact. Each serving of brown rice contains more than twice as much blood sugar-stabilizing fiber and three times as much magnesium as white rice. It’s also a good source of niacin, folate, manganese and cancer-fighting antioxidants.

Research shows that people withe type 2 diabetes who regularly eat moderate amounts of brown rice have better blood sugar control after meals. In addition, they also have less overall inflammation—a problem linked to type 2 diabetes—and increased protection against heart disease. Eating more whole grains such as brown rice has been shown to reduce the risk of worsening type 2 diabetes, as well as prevent the development of vascular diseases and unnecessary weight gain.

This is the difference between wild rice and brown rice.

How to Eat Brown Rice if You Have Diabetes

There are plenty of healthy carbs for people with diabetes. But eating any starch, even a high-fiber one like brown rice, is best done alongside healthy plant-based fats and lean protein. The reason? Both nutrients slow down digestion, including the release of glucose into the bloodstream.

For example, you can prepare an Asian-inspired rice bowl that includes three-fours of a cup of warm brown rice, with a few slices of avocado, some grilled chicken, shredded red cabbage and a peanut-based sauce. The ingredients in this dish work together to help dull the overall rise in blood sugar.

If you prefer to stay away from this beneficial whole grain, here’s a list of foods that people with diabetes can enjoy without concern about blood sugar chaos.

Healthy Brown Rice Recipes Loaded with Flavor
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Amelia Sherry, MPH, RD, CDN, CDCES
Amelia Sherry, MPH, RD, CDCES, provides nutrition therapy via a New York-based private practice and has special training in family feeding dynamics and disordered eating. She is also the founder of NourishHer, which supports mothers who want to protect their daughters who have happy, healthy relationships with food and body. She has written for publications including Reader's Digest, Family Circle, Fitness, SELF, Redbook, Latina, Today's Dietitian and Woman's World.