Rice is a versatile ingredient that can be paired with almost any other food item. With over 756 million tons produced worldwide and over half the world’s population living on this grain as a staple food, it’s unsurprising that it is a staple in many cultures.¹ In the supermarket, you may see a various types of rice, including jasmine, black rice, brown rice, white rice, and wild rice.
While rice is immensely popular, some individuals (especially those living with diabetes) worry that consuming rice may lead to blood sugar spikes. So, does rice actually impact blood sugar levels? The answer will depend on the type of rice you choose and how the rice is cooked.
This article will explore more about how white rice may impact blood sugar levels and the health benefits that could be gleaned from including this grain in meals.
How rice impacts blood sugar levels depends heavily on the structure and processing of the rice. White rice may seem straightforward, but there are different white rice varieties available that are categorized by the structure and starch ratio of the grain.
Generally, white rice is considered a medium glycemic index food, but this rating can change as differences in white rice varieties impact how the body digests the grain, which can result in a higher or lower glycemic index.
Also, the glycemic load differs greatly depending on the variety of rice consumed. The below information is based on a 100 g serving of boiled, unenriched white rice.² ³ ⁴
As noted above, there are a lot of factors to consider when determining the nutritional content, glycemic index, and glycemic load of rice.
The nutritional facts below are based on a 100g serving of uncooked, long-grain white rice.⁵
A (8.54 µg), B6 (0.06 mg), C (4.1 mg), D (0.2 IU).
The effects of white rice on weight loss are conflicting. Some studies have associated diets high in refined grains, like white rice, with weight gain, belly fat, and obesity, while other studies have found no correlation.⁸ ⁹ ¹⁰ ¹¹
Also, numerous diets around the world center around the consumption of white rice and have been shown to promote weight loss, specifically in countries where white rice is a daily staple.¹² ¹³ ¹⁴
If you do decide to include white rice in your diet and are looking to lose weight, be mindful of portion sizes and pair this delicious grain with a protein to slow digestion, which will help you feel fuller for longer.
White rice has a moderate glycemic index but could have a higher glycemic index depending on the variety of white rice and the preparation method. It could lead to rapid increases in blood sugar levels, so it is recommended to be mindful of portion sizes.
Another strategy to reduce blood sugar spikes when eating white rice is to pair this food with a lean protein and healthy fat source. This will slow down the absorption of the white rice, leading to less of a spike in your glucose levels.
Bill Tancer, the host of Singos’ Body Signal podcast, recommends eating rice after it has cooled, which will impact how the rice is digested and decrease its glycemic index overall.
Rice allergies are uncommon but possible. Symptoms of an allergy to rice include skin rashes, itching, swelling, difficulty breathing, gastrointestinal discomfort, and possible anaphylaxis.
More common is an allergy to rice protein. This allergy could result from the body reacting to the albumin or globulin, both proteins found in all rice varieties.
Individuals also may experience an intolerance to rice, resulting in digestive issues such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, or stomach discomfort. This could be related to experiencing difficulties in digesting certain components of the rice, such as starches or fiber.
If you suspect an allergy to rice, please consult a healthcare professional.
The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood sugar levels compared to a reference food, usually glucose. It ranks foods on a scale from 0 to 100, with higher values indicating a faster rise in blood sugar. The glycemic index (GI) scale is typically categorized as follows: Low GI [55 or less], Medium GI [56-69], High GI [70 or higher]. Foods with a high glycemic index digest rapidly and can cause dramatic fluctuations in blood glucose or glucose spikes.
Glycemic load (GL) takes into account both the quality (glycemic index) and quantity (carbohydrate content) of carbohydrates in a specific serving of food. It is a measure of how much a particular food will raise blood sugar levels. GL is calculated by multiplying the glycemic index of a food by its carbohydrate content and dividing it by 100. It provides a more accurate representation of the overall impact of a food on blood sugar compared to the glycemic index alone.
Yes, white rice can spike insulin levels. White rice has a high glycemic index, which means it can cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels and subsequently trigger a release of insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. However, the extent of the insulin spike can vary depending on factors such as the amount of rice consumed, the presence of other foods in the meal, and individual differences in insulin sensitivity. It is recommended to consume white rice in moderation and pair it with protein, fiber, and healthy fats to slow down the absorption of glucose and minimize insulin spikes.
No, white rice is not low glycemic. It has a high glycemic index, meaning it can cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels. This is due to its high starch content and lack of fiber.
Yes, people living with diabetes can eat white rice in moderation as part of a balanced diet. However, it is important to consider portion sizes and pair it with fiber-rich foods to help regulate blood sugar levels.