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Indian rice good for diabetics

Henna Rakheja , Sept 6 , 2012 19:42 IST
If you are suffering from diabetes then anything having high starch content is a straight ‘No’! A lot of food options get struck down by the doctor for diabetics. Until now, rice has found its way to the top of the list of ‘don’t eats.’

However, a recent research has found that rice isn’t really the villain as is commonly thought. Two varieties of Indian rice, Swarna and Mahsuri, commonly consumed by Indians have now been found to have low Glycemic Index (GI) (an index that measures the ability of a food substance to raise blood sugar levels after eating). The result was an outcome of a comparison with 233 other types of rice consumed around the world.

Swarna and Mahsuri’s GI levels were found to be around 50. In layman’s language, it implies that the approx 60 million diabetic population of India can now look forward to a new entry in their diet – rice!

The GI in rice is generally high and it is a tedious process to check GI of a food.
Dr. A. K. Singh, Head of Fruits and Horticulture division at Indian Agricultural Research Institute says, “The process for screening GI is long. It requires a set of people who need to fast for 24 hours after which they are given rice to eat in a periodic manner. It is then calculated as to which variety leads to high GI.”

The study conducted by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the University of Queensland also found that three of the top 10 rice varieties with lowest GI were being grown and consumed by Indians. The research was prompted, given the outcome of serious health epidemic of diabetes which is expected to affect 330 million people globally by 2030.

The disease is noted more in urban population due to lifestyle patterns whereas in rural areas, physical labour leads to digestion of carbohydrates. While Basmati showed a GI between 68 and 74, other Indian varieties are found to be below 60, which is good news for the non-Basmati consumers.

However, doctors caution that no matter how much you love rice, you have to be careful when including it in a diabetic diet. “Even if GI is low in certain varieties, it does exist to a degree of 50 per cent. So one must exercise caution.” In any case, the research has encouraged scope to have more varieties less in GI, in future.

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