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  • Writer's pictureDr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam

White Rice or Brown Rice - Which is better for Diabetes?

Rice is a popular food that many people enjoy, but it may not be the best choice for people with diabetes. Rice is high in carbohydrates, which can make blood sugar levels go up and lead to diabetes problems. But are all kinds of rice equally bad for diabetes? Or is there a difference between white rice and brown rice?

White rice vs brown rice

White rice is the most processed type of rice. It has the outer layers removed, leaving only the starchy part. This makes white rice soft, fluffy, and easy to cook, but it also lowers its nutritional value. White rice has very little vitamins, minerals, or fiber, and has a high rating on the glycemic index (GI). This means that it can make blood sugar levels rise quickly after eating.

Brown rice, on the other hand, is a whole grain that keeps the outer layers. This gives brown rice a nutty taste, a chewy texture, and a longer cooking time, but it also keeps its nutrients. Brown rice has more vitamins, minerals, and fiber than white rice, and has a lower rating on the GI. This means that it can make blood sugar levels rise slowly and mildly after eating.

However, even though brown rice may be better than white rice in terms of nutrition, both types of rice are still high in carbs. A half-cup of cooked white rice has about 22 grams of carbs, while a half-cup of cooked brown rice has about 21 grams of carbs. For people with diabetes, this amount of carbs can have a big impact on blood sugar control and diabetes care.

Rice and diabetes risk

Some research has looked at how eating rice affects the risk of getting type 2 diabetes. Most of them have found that eating more white rice is linked to a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes. This may be because of the high GI and low fiber content of white rice, which can make the body less responsive to insulin and more inflamed.

On the other hand, some research has suggested that eating more brown rice may be linked to a lower risk of getting type 2 diabetes. This may be because of the higher fiber and lower GI content of brown rice, which can make the body more sensitive to insulin and less stressed.

However, these research are not conclusive and cannot prove cause and effect. They also have some flaws, such as relying on what people report eating, not considering other factors that may affect diabetes risk, and not measuring blood sugar levels directly.

Rice and diabetes treatment

For people who already have diabetes or prediabetes, eating rice may not be good for their blood sugar control and diabetes treatment. Even though brown rice may make blood sugar levels go up less than white rice, both types of rice can still make blood sugar levels go above the recommended range for people with diabetes.

Some research has compared how brown rice and white rice affect blood sugar and insulin levels in people with or without diabetes. They have found that brown rice may make blood glucose go up less (about 20% lower) and insulin go up less (about 57% lower) than white rice. However, these differences may not be important or enough to prevent diabetes problems.

Moreover, these research are short-term and small-scale. They do not show the long-term effects of eating rice on blood sugar control and diabetes results. They also do not account for other factors that may affect blood sugar levels, such as how much you eat, how you cook it, what you eat it with, how active you are, what medication you take, and how your body reacts.


Rice is a high-carb food that can make blood sugar levels go up and increase the risk of diabetes problems. White rice is more processed than brown rice, and has less nutrients and more GI than brown rice. Brown rice is more nutritious and has less GI than white rice, but it still has a lot of carbs that can affect blood sugar control.

Therefore, for people with diabetes or prediabetes, it may be better to avoid or limit both types of rice in their diet. Instead, they can choose lower-carb options that are more suitable for their blood sugar management. Some examples are cauliflower rice, broccoli rice, quinoa, barley, buckwheat, or millet.

If you do decide to eat rice sometimes, make sure to measure how much you eat carefully (no more than half a cup), cook it with less water to lower its GI (use one cup of water for one cup of rice), eat it with protein and healthy fats to slow down its digestion (such as chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, or avocado), and check your blood sugar levels before and after eating to see how it affects you. And if possible, choose brown rice over white rice for its higher fiber and lower GI content.

Dr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam, MD, FRCP (London), FACP (USA)

Internal Medicine Specialist

Kify Hospital



Phone : 85000 23456

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