Friday, December 2, 2022

Low glycemic rice shows promise for diabetics

Louisiana-grown variety has an average glycemic rating of 41.

⋅ By Tobi Blanchard ⋅

For people interested in keeping their blood sugar levels in check, they now have a new tool thanks to rice developed at the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station in Crowley, Louisiana.

Frontiére, a low-glycemic rice developed by the LSU AgCenter is being sold across the state under the Parish Rice brand. This rice is a healthy alternative for diabetics and those who are pre-diabetic.
LSU AgCenter Communications

AgCenter area nutrition agent Mandy Armentor said Frontiére is a low glycemic rice variety developed by LSU AgCenter scientists that went to market under the Parish Rice label late in 2021.

Key differences

Armentor said in addition to being non-GMO, Frontiére also has 5 grams of protein. Other rice varieties have only 1 to 2 grams of protein per one-half cup serving when cooked.

“That is great news for people with diabetes or who have been diagnosed as pre-diabetic who need to watch the amount and type of carbohydrates they consume, which affect blood sugar levels,” she said. “A low glycemic food means that when the food is metabolized by the body, there is a gradual rise in blood sugar levels as opposed to a food which might be high on the glycemic index that will cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels.”

There are three groups of glycemic ratings for food: low with a glycemic index of 55 or less, medium with a glycemic index of 56 to 69 and high with a glycemic index of 70 to 100.

Frontiére has an average rating of 41, which is 14 points lower than other varieties of rice and is classified in a low-glycemic group. It has the lowest glycemic index ever reported in commercially viable rice, she said.

This is welcome news for a state where many of the main dishes such as gumbo, etouffee and jambalaya are served with rice and for people who might shy away from them for dietary concerns.

Cooking in the kitchen

Armentor said this low glycemic rice will transform rice from a food shunned because of health concerns to one that is consumed.

“I actually cooked some over the weekend and tested it on my family,” she said. “We had it with gumbo and nobody could tell that it was any different from traditional rice in taste, texture and appearance.”

Armentor said she cooked it with an electric rice cooker and it was not different from cooking other varieties of long-grain rice.

She said the biggest difference that she noticed is the low glycemic rice was a good bit stickier than traditional rice.

“Parish Rice is available at all of the Rouses grocery stores in Louisiana and a number of the local grocery stores,” she said.

Health benefits abound

Other benefits of consuming low glycemic rice are it’s Louisiana grown with complete traceability; it has small amounts of sodium, fat and cholesterol; it’s a good source of energy-providing complex carbohydrates; it’s easy to prepare; and it’s gluten-free like any other rice variety.

“Why would someone not want to support the Rice Research Station, local farmers and make a small change in their diet that would be beneficial to their overall health?” Armentor said.

Research has shown that consumption of lower-glycemic foods can help prevent unnecessary snacking and excessive calorie consumption, thereby making this low glycemic rice a useful tool in obesity prevention.

“One must remember that just because a food is low glycemic, you still have to watch out for your portion size, especially those with pre-diabetes or diabetes,” she said.

Armentor said consuming low glycemic diets has been shown to reduce risks of cancer, heart disease and other medical conditions in studies. 


Tobie Blanchard is director, communications and public relations, LSU AgCenter. She may be reached at TBlanchard@agcenter.lsu.edu.

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