Which Is Better for a Diabetic: Chapati or Rice?

People with diabetes need to be conscious of their carbohydrate consumption as certain foods can increase blood sugar substantially. Considering the glycemic index of chapati, rice and other grain-based foods can help with the management of blood glucose levels.

The glycemic index of chapati is usually lower than that of rice. Credit: Kailash Kumar/iStock/GettyImages

Read more: 19 High-Fiber Foods — Some May Surprise You!

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The glycemic index of chapati is usually lower than that of rice. This, along with its rich nutrition, makes it a healthier option for diabetes sufferers.

Nutrition Facts for Chapati

Chapati is a type of bread — it's specifically considered to be a type of roti. It's often cooked on a skillet or griddle and served alongside Caribbean, Asian and African dishes.

According to the USDA, 100 grams of commercially-prepared chapati has 297 calories, 11.3 grams of protein and 46.4 grams of carbohydrates. Of these carbohydrates, 4.9 grams come from dietary fiber.

Chapati is a pan-fried bread, which means that it utilizes fat both in the batter and in the cooking process. Every 100 grams contain 7.5 grams of fat, which is a mix of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, like omega fatty acids, and less-healthy saturated fats. It also provides a variety of essential nutrients, including:

  • 7 percent of the recommended daily dose of calcium

  • 17 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of

    iron

  • 6 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of

    potassium

  • 15 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of

    magnesium

  • 14 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of

    zinc

  • 28 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of

    copper

  • 54 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of

    manganese

  • 98 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of selenium

Chapati also contains vitamins like:

  • 46 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of vitamin B1 (thiamin)

  • 15 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of

    vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

  • 42 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of

    vitamin B3 (niacin)

  • 12 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of

    vitamin B5

  • 16 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of

    vitamin B6

  • 15 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of

    vitamin B9 (folic acid)

  • 6 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of

    vitamin E

However, this nutrition breakdown can change based on the oil or flour you've chosen. Chapati made with all-purpose, refined flour and palm oil will have a very different nutritional profile from chapati made with whole grain flour and olive oil.

Read more: 11 Nutrients Americans Aren't Getting Enough Of

White vs. Brown Rice Nutrition

According to the USDA, 100 grams of white rice boasts 130 calories, 0.3 grams of fat, 2.7 grams of protein and 28.2 grams of carbohydrates. Of these carbs, only 0.4 grams come from dietary fiber.

As a refined grain, white rice has very little natural nutritional value. However, it's typically supplemented with other important nutrients. In every 100 grams of white rice, you can find essential vitamins and minerals, including:

  • 7 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of

    iron

  • 8 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of

    copper

  • 21 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of

    manganese

  • 14 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of

    selenium

  • 14 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of

    vitamin B1 (thiamin)

  • 9 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of

    vitamin B3 (niacin)

  • 8 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of

    vitamin B5

  • 5 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of

    vitamin B6

  • 15 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of

    vitamin B9 (folate)

In comparison, the USDA states that 100 grams of brown has 112 calories, 0.8 grams of fat, 2.3 grams of protein and 23.5 grams of carbohydrates. Out of these carbohydrates, 1.8 grams come from dietary fiber. Additionally, brown rice provides large doses of vitamins and minerals, such as:

  • 10 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of

    magnesium

  • 6 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of

    phosphorus

  • 6 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of

    zinc

  • 9 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of

    copper

  • 48 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of

    manganese

  • 9 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of

    vitamin B1 (thiamin)

  • 8 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of

    vitamin B3 (niacin)

  • 8 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of

    vitamin B5

  • 9 percent of the

    recommended daily dose of

    vitamin B6

Gram for gram, white and brown rice have far fewer carbohydrates than chapati. However, both of these grains also have fewer nutrients. Whole grains, like brown rice, are generally considered to be healthier choices than refined white rice.

Read more: 13 Powerful Grains and Seeds

Diabetic Diets and Carbohydrate Consumption

People with diabetes have issues regulating their blood glucose, typically resulting in elevated blood sugar levels. According to MedlinePlus, the U.S. National Library of Medicine's website, managing your blood sugar may require specific medications and lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise. Your doctor can best advise you on the details.

One tool that can be helpful for diabetes management is the glycemic index. According to the Mayo Clinic, the glycemic index categorizes carbohydrates and carbohydrate-rich foods based on their potential to affect your blood glucose levels.

Essentially, foods with high glycemic indexes are more likely to increase your blood sugar compared to those with lower values. Whole grain products are typically higher in fiber and have lower glycemic index values than refined grain products.

You shouldn't exclusively use glycemic indexes to choose the foods you consume. However, this tool can help you effectively manage your diabetes and improve your overall health.

Glycemic Index of Grain Products

Many different health associations list estimated glycemic indexes for commonly consumed foods. For instance, Diabetes Canada states that the glycemic index for chapati is in the medium range (56 to 69). This means that this food is OK for individuals with diabetes to consume occassionally.

Similarly, these guidelines state that roti's glycemic index is also within this range, as are most grain-based products. Pita bread, rye bread, brown rice, wild rice and short- and long-grain white rice are all a good choice.

In contrast, grains with high glycemic indexes (70 or more) include naan and other white breads, some whole wheat breads, jasmine rice, millet, sticky rice and instant white rice. On the other end of the spectrum are low glycemic index breads and grains, like sourdough bread, barley, bulgur and quinoa.

Harvard Medical School agrees with most of these findings. Its guidelines state that white rice has a glycemic index around 73. The glycemic index for brown rice is 68, while roti's glycemic index is 62. However, Harvard lists the glycemic index for chapati as approximately 52, which could push it into the category of low glycemic index foods that fit into a diabetes diet.

Glycemic Index of Chapati

The glycemic index for chapati can be complicated. This is because chapati can be made with a wide range of different ingredients. You can cook it with water, salt, and almost any flour and oil. Any of these ingredients can affect its nutritional value.

Given the popularity of this bread in Asia, Africa and other regions, the glycemic index of chapati and other types of roti are very well studied. The most influential ingredient that can affect the glycemic index of chapati is its flour.

Flour, sometimes referred to as atta in Hindi or Punjabi, can be made from more than just grains. You can also make atta from legumes, like chickpeas. In fact, chickpea flour is considered to be one of the best atta for people with diabetes due to its low glycemic index.

Slightly older studies have found that other atta mixes are even better for reducing the glycemic index of roti. A January 2010 study in the _British Journal of Nutrition _reported that the use of bengal gram, psyllium husk and debittered fenugreek flour could reduce the glycemic index of this bread to as little as 27. In comparison, whole wheat roti was reported to have a glycemic index of 45.

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