The Right Rice

Every week I see patients who are either being treated for diabetes or are on the bubble, so to speak, which is to say pre-diabetic.  Simply put diabetes means having too much glucose (sugar) in the blood. And generally speaking it is recommended to modify the carbohydrate content of the person’s diet to help bring the blood sugar level back to a healthy level.

I am sure you are about to guess my dilemma being a dietitian in China. Rice is a staple food here, being a part of at least one meal a day, sometimes at every meal. Rice is a carbohydrate and white rice in particular can be a troublesome choice for those with blood sugar issues.

My automatic recommendation for all people, not just those dealing with diabetes, is to change over to brown rice, which we all assume is the better choice. But one patient asked me about glutinous or sticky rice and that got me thinking. There are lots of different rices out there. So perhaps brown rice is not the only alternative to polished white rice.

I decided to investigate as many rice varieties as I could think of and also throw in a couple of grain alternatives. In the list below I have included the calories, carbohydrate content, protein content and fiber content for a 1/2 cup cooked portion.

Grain per ½ cup cooked Calories Carbohydrate Protein Fiber
White,steamed rice 100 22.5 gm 2 gm 0.5 gm
Glutinous rice 85 18 gm 2 gm 2 gm
Brown rice 108 22.5 gm 2.5 gm 2 gm
Black rice 106 22 gm 3 gm 1.3 gm
Red rice 100 24 gm 2 gm 4 gm
Basmati rice 95 20 gm 2.5 gm 0.3 gm
Wild Rice 83 18 gm 3.5 gm 1.5 gm
Quinoa 110 20 gm 4 gm 2.5 gm
Couscous 88 18 gm 3 gm 1 gm

After this due diligence I would recommend that if you are going to eat rice on a regular basis, and I mean more than one meal a week, that you go for the fiber; glutinous rice, brown rice and red rice are the best in that category. I also suggest you mix your grains up a and add some quinoa in every now and then. Quinoa is super for fiber and protein.

One last tidbit on rice. White rice and brown rice start out as the same kernel of rice. Brown rice is the unpolished version of your familiar white rice. Brown rice is processed to remove only the hull, which doesn’t add much nutrition anyway but the continued milling and polishing  to produce white rice removes over 60% of the naturally occurring vitamins and mineral and most of the fiber.

There you have it, all you need to know about rice!

Eat Well, Live Well, Have fun