Carbohydrates in white rice impact blood sugar.
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If you're healthy, an occasional serving of white rice should not be a problem and, as long as it's enriched, you'll gain protein and B vitamins. The primary concern about white rice is its ability to boost blood sugar. For this reason, it's not a good choice if you're prediabetic or diabetic. High blood sugar can also contribute to heart disease.
White Rice Basics
Two parts of the whole grain -- the outer bran and the innermost germ -- are removed to produce white rice. When you lose the bran and germ, you also lose natural nutrients. The bran contains most of the grain's fiber and 50 to 80 percent of its minerals, while the germ is a source of B vitamins, vitamin E and healthy unsaturated fats, according to Kansas State University. The resulting white rice consists of starch, protein and a small amount of B vitamins. One cup of cooked white rice has 205 calories, 4 grams of protein and barely 1 gram of fiber.
High Blood Sugar
One cup of cooked white rice contains 45 grams of total carbohydrates, which is 35 percent of an entire day's recommended allowance of carbs. Fiber moderates the rate at which sugar enters your bloodstream, but white rice doesn't retain enough fiber to help, so the carbs gain quick access to your system. Its glycemic index score of 89 puts white rice almost equal to pure glucose in its ability to cause a quick and significant spike in blood sugar. High blood sugar can lead to insulin resistance and then you're at a higher risk for weight gain, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. Over time, high blood sugar also contributes to cardiovascular disease, according to Ohio State University.
Most producers enrich white rice with B vitamins and minerals, but the amount and type of nutrients added vary depending on the brand. The USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory reports the nutrients in generic, cooked, long-grain white rice. A 1-cup serving supplies 38 percent of the recommended daily allowance of folic acid, which is actually 19 times more than the amount naturally found in whole-grain brown rice. The same portion also has 1.9 milligrams of iron, which is 11 percent of women's and 24 percent of men's recommended daily intake.
The impact of white rice on your blood sugar is dose-dependent, which means the more you eat, the more your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes increases, notes Harvard researchers in the March 2012 issue of "BMJ." You can reduce its impact by limiting your portion size and by eating high-fiber foods along with the rice. You'll also avoid the problem by replacing white rice with brown rice because whole-grain brown rice is associated with a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, according to a review in the June 2010 issue of вЂњJAMA Internal Medicine."