Brown Rice vs. White Rice for diabetes

Table of Contents

How This Helps

Rice is one of the most abundant food plants on Earth. For over 5,000 years, it’s been an important food staple, and approximately half of the world’s population depends on it. White rice has become increasingly popular since it is cheap and has a long shelf life. The US Rice Producers Association estimates that people in Asia consume up to 300 Pounds per year and residents of the United Arab Emirates eat 450 pounds per year. The French, at the other end of the spectrum hardly eat any rice at all, only ten pounds each year.

In the US, a person now eats an average of 26 pounds of rice every year. And that number is climbing. So is the number of individuals stricken with diabetes annually.

These people have a higher risk of developing diabetes and being forced to endure debilitating side-effects and premature death. A variety of studies have demonstrated that if rice eaters replace the white rice in their diets using brown rice, they could decrease their risk of becoming diabetic by nearly 20 percent.

Research done in the Harvard School of Public Health in Australia, China, Japan, and the United States demonstrated that white rice has a high glycemic index. When people consume large portions of it every week, blood sugar spikes after meals, and gives individuals a 10% higher probability of developing diabetes. Dietary experts add that switching to brown rice can help reduce the risk of people developing diabetes.

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Brown rice vs. white rice

White rice comes from brown rice. The grain’s naturally grown form is brown rice. White rice is produced by peeling off the bran layer and germ portions of brown rice. Following this procedure, all that is left is the rice grain’s inner white kernel.

Unfortunately, this process turns out a nutritious grain into basically a starch that is so depleted of nutrients it generally has to be enriched to make sure it provides more than just empty calories. Eating white rice has a glucose-raising effect. It releases sugar very quickly to the bloodstream. That contributes to a growing number of people around the world to develop diabetes.

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Brown rice benefits for diabetics

Brown rice is an extremely nutritious food. It’s a whole grain that’s relatively low in calories (216 calories per cup), high in fiber, gluten-free, and may be incorporated into an assortment of recipes. The USA Rice Federation highlights that brown rice includes no trans-fat or cholesterol, and only trace amounts of sodium and fat.

Brown rice is a low “glycemic index” food. The glycemic index (GI) is an indicator as to how fast and how much a food raises an individual’s blood sugar after eating, based on HSPH. Low-GI foods have a number of 55 or less. The GI for brown rice is 55, while white rice has an average GI of 64, which makes it a medium-GI food. Previous research has demonstrated a connection between a high-GI diet and type 2 diabetes.

Some of those phytochemicals and minerals found in whole grains may also be associated with a lower risk of certain cancers, HSPH says. As a component of an overall healthier diet, whole grains can help improve cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, according to the AHA. These nutrients are found in whole grains include

• B vitamins involved in many biological functions;

• Folate which helps the body form new cells and may prevent certain types of birth defects;

• Iron for blood production in hemoglobin and muscle cells called myoglobin;

• Magnesium, a mineral that’s involved in over 300 biological processes;

• Selenium, a mineral, involved the immune system and regulating the thyroid gland.

• Vitamins E & K,

• zinc,

• protein,

• lots of fiber.

• Additionally, it has a substantial quantity of ferulic acid, lysine, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and health-supportive fatty acids that are crucial.

These nutrients help to boost absorption during digestion.

Brown rice is also full of essential polyphenols and phytic acid. All these nutrients make this intricate carbohydrate a great dietary decision to replace white rice for people that wish to reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Refined carbohydrates such as white rice have a high glycemic index, which induces rapid spikes in blood glucose, which increases diabetes risk. Foods like brown rice with a lower glycemic index are digested slowly, causing a smaller change in blood glucose levels.

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Other health benefits

The ADA Recommends brown rice

Brown rice is recommended by the ADA as a much better alternative over white rice for individuals attempting to controls diabetes. The organization points out that brown rice provides a wide selection of advantages for people at risk of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

They advocate that brown rice reduces insulin surges and aids in stabilizing the body’s blood glucose levels due to its low glycemic index. Brown rice also helps synthesize fats, control weight, and fight obesity, three risk factors for Type 2 diabetes.

Improves Digestion

Brown rice will help in improving the digestive process. This is important for fighting diabetes. Excessive amounts of sugar in the blood may cause digestive tract issues and increase the odds of people becoming diabetic. The fiber from brown rice aids the digestive system stay healthy and working normally. Gastric digestion improves by preventing the absorption of acid and helps alleviate constipation. This helps to keep the whole digestive system functioning at an optimal level.

Brown Rice lowers cholesterol

People at risk of diabetes tend to have high cholesterol levels and insufficient high-density lipoproteins to eliminate it from their bodies. The ADA recommends incorporating whole grains such as brown rice for their diets to lower their cholesterol levels.

The naturally occurring oils in brown rice allow it to help keep healthy cholesterol levels. Research shows brown rice has hypocholesterolemic qualities which regulate cholesterol catabolism. Additionally, the nutrients help the body metabolize sugar and lipids. Brown rice also increases the body’s beneficial HDL cholesterol levels and combats diabetes.

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How does brown rice help diabetics?

Brown rice Includes lots of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Thiamine (Vitamin B) found in brown rice helps with carbohydrate metabolism. Whole grain brown rice also contains magnesium and selenium. Selenium plays an essential role in antioxidant enzymes and affects thyroid health.

Magnesium in brown rice helps to build strong bones and is involved in countless enzymatic reactions that help synthesize DNA and the proteins necessary for proper muscle contraction and nerve conduction. The fiber from brown rice helps to improve heart health, reduce bad cholesterol, and stabilize blood sugars.

Utilizing Brown Rice For Diabetes

Brown rice’s fiber-rich outer coating slows the digestive enzymes’ penetration into its starchy pieces. This slower digestive process delays the sugar release into the blood. The slower sugar release is essential for diabetics since the bodies of individuals with Type 2 diabetes are not able to properly regulate and utilize the sugar in the bloodstream.

A research study done by a group of scientists from the Harvard School of Public Health found that individuals reduced their risk of developing diabetes by 11 percent when they ate brown rice two or more times each week. This can be particularly valuable to the 84.1 million Americans diagnosed with prediabetes.

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Studies for brown rice vs white rice for diabetes

The Harvard Study

A study looked at over 157,000 girls and 39,000 men between the ages of 26 and 87 between 1984 and 2006. Not one of them had diabetes at the start of the analysis. Participants’ ingestion of brown rice, white rice, and other foods were evaluated and updated every two to four decades.

What investigators found were participants who ate white rice five or more times per week increased their Type 2 diabetes risk by 17%. The study participants who ate at least two weekly servings of brown rice decreased their type 2 diabetes risk by 11 percent. Between 1984 and 2006, three follow-up studies were done by other groups to verify the results.

The research group started a study in Shanghai, China, in 2008 to determine if participants could change from white rice to brown. The preliminary results of the study were promising. This study assessed the awareness and acceptability of brown rice in 32 Chinese adults and analyzed the feasibility of introducing brown rice to the diet. Most participants consumed white rice every day, and just a couple had tried brown rice previously. Before tasting, most participants believed brown rice inferior to white rice concerning taste and quality. But after tasting brown rice and learning about its nutritional value, the majority indicated greater openness to eat brown rice. Additionally, many participants expressed willingness to take part in a future long-term brown rice intervention research.

In another pilot study, a total of 202 middle-aged adults were randomly assigned to white rice or brown rice bands and consumed the rice for 16 weeks. The analysis found good compliance with the brown rice intervention. Although no overall differences in metabolic variables were found between the two groups, the brown rice intervention revealed some benefits in improving HDL cholesterol and blood pressure in diabetic patients. The research demonstrated the feasibility of conducting long-term brown rice intervention trials in a Chinese population.

A Japanese Public Health Study

In Japan, researchers also did a study on the connection between Type 2 diabetes and white rice intake. The Japanese research lasted five years and involved 33,622 girls and 25,666 men in the age group of 45 to 75. The results were published in the Dec 2010 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

None of the participants previously had diabetes, but by the time it was finished, 1,103 of these reported being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. The research found that Japanese women had a greater chance of developing diabetes from eating white rice. The analysis was very significant because, in Japan, white rice is an important part of the daily diet.

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Reasons to switch to brown rice

The connection between eating white rice and developing Type 2 diabetes is of particular importance to Americans today. Recent statistics reveal white rice consumption has increased dramatically in the USA lately, and so has the incidence of Type 2 diabetes.

Approximately 30.3 million Americans have diabetes, and annually 1.5 million new cases are diagnosed. An increasing percentage of those new cases are children and adults over 65 years. In 2015 alone, 79,535 Americans died from diabetes, and in an extra 252,806 deaths, diabetes was listed as a contributing element. This makes diabetes the 7th top reason Americans die annually.

Evidence To Switch To Brown Rice

With growing evidence demonstrating a link between eating white rice and developing Type 2 diabetes and how brown rice might help, switching to eating brown rice rather than white is important. White rice induces glucose metabolism to deteriorate and increases people’s risk of becoming diabetic.

That makes removing white rice out of your diet and replacing it with brown rice for diabetes prevention a smart choice. Increasing evidence shows that eating brown rice rather than white rice may help in the onset of diabetes. This happens primarily by the slower release of sugar into the bloodstream.

This simple food option can have a dramatic impact on diabetes management.

Brown rice offers a lower Glycemic Index and packs seven times the fiber in white rice. This extra fiber helps brown rice to stabilize blood glucose, improve heart health, and reduce bad cholesterol. All these items are important for controlling & preventing diabetes. For extra benefit, brown rice also contains fewer carbohydrates and calories than white rice.

This can also help lower the incidence of diabetes. According to the Harvard study, substituting 50 g of rice in your daily diet with 50 g of brown rice provides you a 16 percent less chance of the onset of diabetes type 2.


The Harvard School of Public Health was the first study to analyze the potential advantages of Americans eating brown rice rather than white rice and how it can impact Type 2 diabetes rates in America. It found that brown rice consumption could reduce Americans’ Type 2 diabetes risk because brown rice has high nutrient content than white rice eliminates. The conclusions of the study were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Whole grains such as brown rice are a better source of carbohydrates for people than white rice and other refined carbohydrates. Brown rice’s lower glycemic index can lower the incidence of diabetes in Americans who consume at least two servings per week. Eating large amounts of white rice, on the other hand, leads to a monotonically increased Type 2 diabetes risk. The distinction is brown rice’s high fiber and nutrient content and a lower amount of processing.


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