Basmati Rice for Diabetes: Health Benefits, GI & Nutrition

Rice, a cereal grain belonging to the grass species called Oryza sativa is most widely consumed and a staple food for over half of the world’s social population, chiefly in Asia and Africa.

This grain is considered the most important food crop concerning most of the human nutrition and caloric intake. This crop is normally grown as an annual plant and requires ample water hence it is seen that it is cultivated and also grows well in regions with high rainfall.

There are many varieties of rice available in the marketplace and accordingly, the culinary preferences also tend to vary provincially.

Basmati rice is one such variety that is conventionally grown in India, Nepal, and Pakistan. It is thought to have been cultivated in the Indian subcontinent for centuries. India accounts for over 70 % of the world’s basmati rice production.

This variety of basmati rice grain is long and slender and has a distinctive aroma and flavor.

Basmati rice variety is exclusively cultivated in the state of Punjab (India) and Pakistan. Basmati rice also has several varieties and they have been numbered as per their types such as basmati 370, basmati 385, and so on.

While cooking basmati rice the aroma of the rice may decrease so soaking the rice 30 minutes before cooking aids in shorter cooking times and also preserves the aroma.

Basmati rice is available in both white and brown varieties. Nevertheless, both these varieties do not have any difference from the nutritional point of view.

Is Basmati Rice Good for Diabetics?

We all know that rice is the main food item on almost everyone’s plate on the dining table and if that rice is Basmati then it’s the icing on the cake! Basmati rice becomes the favorite for many people due to its flavor, aroma, and nutritional reasons. Now the question is whether people with diabetes can have basmati rice? 

Diabetes is a globally prevalent chronic condition, and almost 80% of the sufferers are from developing countries and almost all of them with Type 2 diabetes. According to the International Federation of Diabetes, over 3 in 4 adults with diabetes live in low- and middle-income countries [1].

In this chronic condition, our body cannot store or regulate the blood sugar or glucose in the bloodstream. In diabetes, blood sugar may rise quickly and then drop which in turn disrupts the body’s ability to produce a hormone named insulin, secreted by the pancreas.

The treatment of diabetes generally requires controlling this blood glucose and maintaining normal blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides.[2]

People who have diabetes need to be vigilant about their diet and exercise. One needs to keep a watch on what they eat every day to ensure that the blood sugar levels do not increase.

To control diabetes one thing which you can monitor is the carbohydrate count and glycemic index (GI) of the foods that you consume. The Glycemic index of foods helps in knowing how the food can affect your blood sugar.

People with diabetes have been recommended a specific diet that they need to follow to maintain their blood sugar levels. Many people who suffer from this disorder have a question in mind that whether they can eat rice. Rice is suitable for diabetic patients.

According to a randomized clinical trial study published in the Public Library of Science (PLOS), a brown rice-based vegan diet was more prevalent in reducing HbA1c levels in diabetic patients than a conventional diet.[3] Hence, brown basmati rice may be suitable or good for diabetic patients. However, further research is needed on the long-term effects of a vegan diet on diabetic health.

As per the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, whole grains should essentially be included in your diet if you have diabetes. This is only because whole grains have high fiber content and are not much processed.[4]

Whole grain basmati rice can be one good option for the ones with diabetes.[5] Basmati rice is free of gluten and low in fats has all the eight essential amino acids and folic acid and is low in sodium and cholesterol-free.

Glycemic Index of Basmati Rice

Rice is full of carbohydrates and has a high GI and could be a matter of concern for the once with diabetes. But this isn’t always the case even if you have diabetes you can consume rice but its portion should be defined. Many types of rice exist and one should try using the healthier ones.

Whole grain Basmati rice has a low to medium glycemic index (between 56 and 69), [6] which means once digested it liberates its energy slowly, in turn, keeping the blood sugar levels stable, and that is the crucial part of diabetes management.

The brown basmati rice has a low glycemic index and is easy to digest. Along with high amounts of vitamin B, the brown basmati rice also contains minerals such as copper and magnesium and the magnesium content found in this rice helps to control the blood sugar. [8]

The whole grain basmati rice is a good source of fiber which is vital for gut health and further improves bowel function.

Consuming high fiber is associated with a lower risk of bowel cancer, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes complications, increased satiety, and weight management.

Whole grains foods have also been associated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.[7]

We all know that Basmati rice is available both as brown and white basmati rice.

The Difference Between the Two Is as Follows

  • White Basmati Rice: This rice is more processed. In this type, the hull, bran, and germ all are removed.
  • Brown Basmati rice: This rice is not processed. And in this only the hull gets removed keeping the fibrous bran layer and the nutrient-rich germ intact.It also does not have cholesterol, fat, or sugar. It provides more nutrients and fewer carbohydrates and is ideal for consumption for people with diabetes.

However, both the white and brown varieties of basmati rice provide essential nutrients; brown basmati rice contains more fiber, phosphorus, zinc, folate, potassium, and vitamin B.[8]

The combination of many properties of numerous compounds found in the rice, specifically in bran and germ, suggests that this rice contributes immensely to the diets of people with type 2 diabetes.

Benefits of Basmati Rice

  • Keeps the Gut Happy: This is due to rich amounts of soluble fibers which help enhance the efficiency of the digestive system and increase nutrient absorption.[9]
  • Aids Weight Loss: Eating boiled basmati rice accelerates the weight loss process just because of its fiber content. It tends to keep you full for longer times and avoid excessive snacking. Also, it is low in fats. [8]
  • Improves Heart Health: Whole grain brown basmati rice tends to lower the risk of heart disease as whole grains reduce blood cholesterol levels. [8]
  • Improves Brain Health: This rice is rich in vitamin B1 (thiamine). This vitamin is crucial for brain health and its insufficiency can lead to a condition called Wernicke encephalopathy.[10,11]
  • Regulates Blood Glucose Levels: The presence of soluble fibers helps in regulating the blood sugar levels. It also tends to lower serum lipids and prevents cardiovascular disease. Hence, ideal for consumption for the ones with diabetes.[12]
  • Reduced Risk of Cancer: Brown basmati rice has more fibers than white one. High-fiber diets help to reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer.[13]

The Bottom line

In a nutshell, people with diabetes can eat basmati rice but in moderation. Sustaining a balanced diet is important.

Rice can be included in your diet but choose the right variety for yourself. If you have diabetes, consider changing to brown or wild rice as it’s rich in fiber.

A diabetic should avoid consuming white rice as it has a high glycemic index than brown rice varieties.

You can consume whole grain brown basmati rice and enjoy all its health benefits even if you are diabetic. And last but not least, do not forget to consult your doctor or physician for suggestions and portion sizes, and try not to overeat.


  2. Garber, A., Handelsman, Y., Grunberger, G., Einhorn, D., Abrahamson, M., & Barzilay, J. et al. (2020). Consensus Statement by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and American College of Endocrinology on the Comprehensive Type 2 Diabetes Management Algorithm – 2020 Executive Summary. Endocrine Practice26(1), 107-139. doi: 10.4158/cs-2019-0472
  3. Lee Y-M, Kim S-A, Lee I-K, Kim J-G, Park K-G, Jeong J-Y, et al. (2016) Effect of a Brown Rice Based Vegan Diet and Conventional Diabetic Diet on Glycemic Control of Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: A 12-Week Randomized Clinical Trial. PLoS ONE 11(6): e0155918.
  5. Anjali A Dixit, Kristen MJ Azar, Christopher D Gardner, Latha P Palaniappan, Incorporation of whole, ancient grains into a modern Asian Indian diet to reduce the burden of chronic disease, Nutrition Reviews, Volume 69, Issue 8, 1 August 2011, Pages 479–488,
  6. Kim, D. (2020). Glycemic index. Obesity, 183–189.
  7. Rathna Priya, T., Eliazer Nelson, A.R.L., Ravichandran, K. et al. Nutritional and functional properties of coloured rice varieties of South India: a review. J. Ethn. Food 6, 11 (2019).
  8. Schenker, S. (2012). An overview of the role of rice in the UK diet. Nutrition Bulletin, 37(4), 309–323.
  9. Soliman, G.A. Dietary Fiber, Atherosclerosis, and Cardiovascular Disease. Nutrients 201911, 1155.
  10. Gibson, G. E., Hirsch, J. A., Fonzetti, P., Jordan, B. D., Cirio, R. T., & Elder, J. (2016). Vitamin B1 (thiamine) and dementia. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1367(1), 21–30.
  11. Osiezagha, K., Ali, S., Freeman, C., Barker, N. C., Jabeen, S., Maitra, S., Olagbemiro, Y., Richie, W., & Bailey, R. K. (2013). Thiamine deficiency and delirium. Innovations in clinical neuroscience10(4), 26–32.
  12. Li, L., Pan, M., Pan, S., Li, W., Zhong, Y., Hu, J., & Nie, S. (2020). Effects of insoluble and soluble fibers isolated from barley on blood glucose, serum lipids, liver function and caecal short-chain fatty acids in type 2 diabetic and normal rats. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 135, 110937.
  13. Anderson, J. W., Smith, B. M., & Gustafson, N. J. (1994). Health benefits and practical aspects of high-fiber diets. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 59(5), 1242S-1247S.

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