Pick the Right Rice for Better Sugar Control

People who have diabetes but love to eat rice can benefit from a new research study that analyzed 235 types of rice from around the world.  The study revealed that the glycemic index (GI) of different types of rice varies, with some types falling into the low GI category.

The glycemic index is a scoring system that rates how quickly a food is absorbed and how much impact is it likely to have on blood sugar levels.  A high GI means the food is easily absorbed and is likely to raise your blood sugar quickly after eating. A low GI means the food will cause a slower or lower change in blood glucose.  GI scores are assigned to foods based on a comparison to glucose, which is one of the fastest carbohydrates.  Glucose has a score of 100, which is the top of the scale.

Researchers from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) concluded that the rice they tested had GI scores ranging from a 48 to 92.   Foods with a GI under 55 are considered low GI.  Foods ranging from 56 to 69 are medium and scores over 70 rank high.   Some people with diabetes use the GI score to help them chose appropriate foods depending on their sugar and activity levels.  Eating foods with a high GI can cause significant variations in blood sugar levels, which can make managing type 2 diabetes more difficult.

Dr. Melissa Fitzgerald, leader of the IRRI team, said, "Understanding that different types of rice have different GI values allows rice consumers to make informed choices about the sort of rice they want to eat." This is also significant for people without diabetes who want to eat a more healthful diet because eating foods with low GI can help reduce the risk of developing diabetes.

Fitzgerald said, “Rice varieties like India's most widely grown rice variety, Swarna, have a low GI and varieties like Doongara and Basmati from Australia have a medium GI."

The research team also identified a key gene in rice that determines the GI of the variety.  This knowledge may pave the way for rice breeders to develop varieties with specific GI levels as needed.  Knowing which rice varieties have a low GI may also allow food manufacturers to develop new low GI products based on rice.

Denise DeWitt is a freelance writer for Empowher.com.


Science Daily. Good News About the Glycemic Index of Rice.  Web. July 14, 2012.


Diabetes Net. Glycemic Index. Web. July 14, 2012.


Harvard Health Publications. Glycemic index and glycemic load for 100+ foods. Web. July 14, 2012.


Related Links:

Glycemic Index--A Diabetics Bible?


High-glycemic carbs – “the white foods” – can break your heart. Literally.


Diabetes Diet Resources


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