Having diabetes requires you to be vigilant about your diet and exercise habits. You have to watch what you eat every day to ensure that your blood sugar doesn’t rise to an unhealthy level.

Monitoring the carbohydrate count and glycemic index (GI) score of the foods you eat can make controlling your diabetes easier. The GI ranks food based on how they can affect your blood sugar.

If you aren’t tracking your diet, diabetes can cause more serious health problems. This includes cardiovascular disease, kidney damage, or foot infections.

Rice is rich in carbohydrates and can have a high GI score. If you have diabetes, you may think that you need to skip it at the dinner, but this isn’t always the case. You can still eat rice if you have diabetes. You should avoid eating it in large portions or too frequently, though. Many types of rice exist, and some types are healthier than others.

There are risks to having too much rice in your diet. A in the British Medical Journal found that people who eat high levels of white rice may have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This means that if you have prediabetes, you should be especially conscientious about your rice intake.

If you’ve already been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s generally safe for you to enjoy rice in moderation. Make sure you’re aware of the carbohydrate count and GI score for the type of rice you wish to eat. You should aim to eat between 45 and 60 grams of carbohydrates per meal. Some varieties of rice have a lower GI score than others.

The Create Your Plate method used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is a good way to ensure your meals are portioned well. Your dinner plate should have 25 percent protein, 25 percent grains and starchy foods, and 50 percent non-starchy vegetables. You can also include a serving of fruit or dairy on the side, but you should factor them into your meal if you’re counting carbohydrates.

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Safe to eat:

  • basmati rice
  • brown rice
  • wild rice

The type of rice is important when selecting what to eat. It’s better to eat rice that packs a nutritional punch. Brown rice, wild rice, and long-grain white rice include more fiber, nutrients, and vitamins than short-grain white rice. You should also check the GI score of your choice.

Short-grain white rice has a high GI, which means it’s 70 or higher, so you should avoid it if possible. It contains little nutritional value when compared to other forms of rice and starches.

Basmati, brown, and wild rice have GI scores in the moderate range. They have a GI of 56 to 69. These are generally OK to eat in moderation. Cooking times can alter GI score, so be careful not to overcook your rice.

You can balance your pick with low-GI foods, including protein and non-starchy vegetables. You should also make sure you only eat a small portion of rice. Just 1/2 cup of rice has 15 grams of carbohydrates.

Rather than relying on rice as a staple at mealtime, experiment with other types of grains. They can help you manage your diabetes and stick to your healthy diet. Most have extra nutritional content, too. These may satisfy you longer than more processed starches can.

These grains have a low GI score:

  • rolled and steel-cut oats
  • barley
  • bulgur
  • quinoa
  • millet
  • buckwheat

People with any type of diabetes can consume rice in small quantities. Maintaining a balanced diet is key. If you have prediabetes, you should also watch your intake of rice and try to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly.

Keep reading: Diabetes diet: What to eat and what to avoid »