Is Brown Rice Good For People With Diabetes?

Reviewed by

Shifa Fathima

Summary: Brown rice is a diabetic-friendly food rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre, and antioxidants. It regulates blood glucose levels, helps in weight loss, and offers other amazing health benefits for diabetics, such as a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and other inflammatory disorders.

Is Brown Rice Good For People With Diabetes?

Brown rice is good for diabetic patients as it is a whole grain and is rich in nutrients. Compared to white rice, brown rice has a low glycemic index (GI) and more complex carbohydrates, leading to slow digestion. Hence, it does not cause spikes in blood glucose levels; therefore, brown rice can be eaten in diabetes. However, caution should be taken to eat in moderate quantities as it is still a rich carbohydrate source.

How does brown rice affect diabetes?

Brown rice is a good source of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, etc. Adding brown rice to the diet is beneficial in diabetes as it is absorbed slowly in the blood and avoids spikes of glucose; hence, it helps regulate blood sugar levels. Eating brown rice has been associated with a reduced spread of diabetes. However, caution should be taken not to over-consume and monitor your portion size.

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General Health Benefits

Being a rich source of vitamins, minerals, fibres, and antioxidants, brown rice helps overall well-being. Brown rice contains flavonoids- plant-based antioxidants that help fight various inflammatory disorders and free radicals. Antioxidants help reduce the risk of various disorders such as heart conditions, Alzheimer's disease, cancer, etc. Brown rice, being a whole grain, is high in fibre content and aids in digestion. High fibre content is also helpful to reduce the risk of various chronic digestive disorders such as Crohn's disease, inflammatory bowel disease, etc. It can also aid in weight loss.

Nutritional benefits

The nutritional profile of the 1 cup of brown rice is as follows:

Energy: 248 kcal

Carbohydrates: 51.7 g

Fat: 1.96 g

Protein: 5.54 g

Fibre: 3.23 g

Starch: 50.1 g

Phosphorus: 208 mg

Magnesium: 78.8 mg

Potassium: 174 mg

Brown rice is also a good source of Vitamin B-complex, folate, calcium, zinc, manganese, selenium, and other micronutrients.

Being rich in magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, brown rice is helpful for nerve conduction, muscle tonicity, and wound healing.

Benefits for people with diabetes

Controlled blood sugar levels are an important parameter to assess the control of diabetes. Owing to its high fibre content, brown rice helps regulate blood sugar levels after meals. Studies have shown that brown rice is also effective in better diabetes control in people with excess weight. People who eat brown rice were found to have better control of blood sugar levels compared to diabetic people eating white rice. Significant reductions in blood glucose levels and HbA1c levels were noted in diabetic people eating brown rice. In another study, diabetic people eating brown rice at least 10 times/week were found to have significant improvement in endothelial function- a heart health parameter. Brown rice was also found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications in females, and also significant reductions in body weight, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference were observed.

May protect against Type 2 diabetes

While multiple studies establish the benefits of brown rice in people with diabetes, it has also been found to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The risk of type 2 diabetes in adults consuming 2 servings/week was reduced significantly. Interestingly, replacing _ cup of white rice with brown rice was associated with a 16% reduction in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. These findings are probably explained by the high fibre content in brown rice. Another explanation is that brown rice is a rich source of magnesium � a mineral nutrient associated with reduced risk of diabetes development.

Glycemic Index of Brown Rice

Brown rice has a GI of 68. Hence, it falls in the category of foods with medium GI (range 56-69). It is lesser than 73- the GI of white rice that falls in the high GI category. Hence, brown rice is a better alternative for diabetics than white rice.

Portion sizes and diet quality

The portion size of any meal has to be as per your blood glucose control. You should regularly monitor your blood glucose levels and know the impact of various foods on glucose control. You can include brown rice in your diet for daily consumption; however, you should consume it in moderation. Although brown rice has a medium GI and if you eat _ cup brown rice daily, still you will be consuming approximately 26 g of carbohydrates. The quantity will primarily depend on your blood glucose control and your meal size, the inclusion of other whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc.

How to cook brown rice

Being inexpensive, brown rice is a staple food in many parts of the world. There are a variety of dishes that can be cooked using brown rice, such as curries, salads, soups, vegetable burgers, grain bowls, puddings, etc. In addition, brown rice can be cooked in various diabetic-friendly preparations such as:

  • Brown rice puddings.
  • Spring roll salads
  • Stir-fry Brown rice with salmon and vegetables
  • Brown rice with chicken sausage and pinto beans
  • Brown rice garnished with fruits and vegetables


Brown rice is a rich source of fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and a great addition to your diabetic diet plan. So, the answer to the question can diabetic patients eat brown rice is yes. However, brown rice should be eaten in moderation to avoid carbohydrate overload, which will eventually be converted to glucose, even if it is slow. In addition to that, it is crucial to monitor your blood glucose levels, exercise regularly, and stay physically active.

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