Is biryani good for diabetics? Biryani and diabetes

Biryani forms an integral part of Indian food culture, especially the islamic foods. No doubt about its enticing taste that makes it so important for the natives of India. But, is the content of biryani good enough to maintain your body health? Is Biryani and diabetes a perfect combination for each other? This article will help you go through the three major ingredients of biryani i.e. Rice, Meat and yogurt. 

“I can’t make everyone happy. I’m not biryani”


– One of the three Minions

Ingredients

Rice, Indian Spices, Vegetables, Meat, Egg, Yogurt, Dried fruits, Nuts

A]. Rice

Rice forms the base of any variation of biryani that you can have across the globe, or some other planet! (possible due to its popularity) Thus it is the most important ingredient to be discussed here.

Nutrition

Calories130 
GI73high
Saturated fats0.1g 
Carbs28g9%
Proteins2.7g5%

Glycemic index and Glycemic load

GI = 73 This lies within the higher glycemic index range. Moreover, the rice is the main ingredient of the Indian Biryani. Therefore, while analyzing the biryani for diabetic individuals we need to consider all other ingredients simultaneously.

Glycemic load = 73 * 28 / 100 = 20.44 This is a high glycemic load value due to high GI and high carbohydrate content.

Now as you see, rice has high glycemic index and high glycemic load. Although, the rice does not have all the sugars but both these high values cause rapid rise and high value rise in the blood sugar levels.

Proteins and fats

The amount of fats is nil in rice. So, there is no question of bringing it up here. Proteins are 2.7g per 200g of boiled rice. Rice protein is low in lysine. Therefore, Indians usually consume rice with daal (pulses) or pea containing curries which make up for this deficiency. So, overall rice increases your blood sugar rapidly, takes it to higher levels and gives you incomplete content of protein by only saving you from harmful effects of saturated fats. What do you think? Is it worth it?

Micronutrients

Rice provides for 5% RDA of Vitamin B6 and 3% RDA of Magnesium. Thus in this section too, rice has a very little to offer. However, brown rice is believed to have better nutrients as compared to white boiled rice. We will see the difference between the two in a separate article focused upon rice and diabetes.

By far, rice has convinced us to stay away from biryani as much as possible. The next ingredient i.e. Meat doesn’t seem to be promising either. However, let’s see what it has to offer…

B]. Meat

Meat is one of the ingredients which enriches the biryani and makes it the food of the once islamic royals. This discussion on biryani and diabetes would have been incomplete without including meat.

Nutrition

Calories143 
GI0 
Saturated fats1.2g6%
Carbs0g 
Proteins26g52%

Glycemic index and glycemic load

As you see in the table mentioned above, the total carbohydrate content of meat is 0g. Thus, meat isn’t included in any of the lists mentioning the glycemic indices of various foods. Since, the GI is zero; the glycemic load won’t play any magic either. It also has to be zero. This means, whatever amount meant you eat, it won’t affect your blood sugar levels. The reason is simple; it doesn’t have carbohydrates within it to affect those in your blood.

Proteins and fats

Protein is the reason why meat has become an integrated part of our dishes. It provides 52% of the recommended daily allowance of protein. Thus, it is classified as a very high protein food. Moreover, it has complete proteins, so the quality also along with quantity is considered to be good.

The meat has a bad name for the saturated fats as much as good name it has for its protein content. This is because, out of the total fat content, almost 50% is saturated fat. This makes up to 6% of the recommended daily saturated fat. Remember, the saturated fat is the one that underlies the pathology of hardening and narrowing of blood vessels. And being a diabetic, this pathological mechanism is actually accelerated, increasing your risk for cardiovascular diseases.

Micronutrients

Vitamin B-6 35% RDA | Meat is the greatest source of vitamin B-6 with such a high quantity. Deficiency of vitamin B6 leads to reduction in circulating levels of insulin mainly caused by deficiency induced degenerative changes in the beta cells of pancreas which are the insulin secreting cells of the pancreas.

Vitamin B-12 10% RDA | Vegetarians can make up for the proteins from the plant sources. However, it’s the deficiency of vitamin B-12 in the plant sources which makes them think about having meat in their regular diet. Vitamin B-12 plays a role in keeping nerves and blood cells healthy and also has a role in synthesis of genetic material. Thus, it helps with the nerve related complications among diabetics. Milk also has almost 8% RDA of vitamin B-12.

Magnesium 7% RDA | Read this post to see the benefits of magnesium in diabetes.

Iron 6% RDA | The iron has pathogenic role to play in the development of diabetes mellitus and its complications mainly retinopathy (eye complication) and nephropathy (kidney complication). Thus, meat, if consumed too much, can help diabetes to develop further through its iron stores.

C]. Plain Yogurt

Nutrition

Calories59 
GI14low
Saturated fats0.1g 
Cholesterol5mg1%
Carbs3.6g (sugar 3.2g)1%
Proteins10g20%

Glycemic index and glycemic load

GI = 14 which is well within the low Glycemic index range. Most of the carbohydrate content of plain yogurt is sugars. But the low value of glycemic index suggests that these sugars won’t increase your blood sugar content rapidly but will have a slow and sustained effect on your blood sugar levels.

GL = 14 * 3.6 / 100 = 0.5 WOW! This value is almost near to the nil. Thus, these sugars will increase your blood sugar levels to a very limited level.

Proteins and fats

Yogurt has 20% of recommended daily proteins at 10g. Also, the amount of free amino acids within the plain yogurt increases with the rise in shelf life. The fat content for yogurt stands at NIL.

Micronutrients

Vitamin B-12 13% RDA | We already know the importance of vitamin B12 from the meat section.

Calcium 11% RDA | A study on effects of specific dosage of Calcium and Vitamin D3 supplements suggests that there is reduction in insulin resistance and episodes of increased plasma glucose. Thus, foods such as dairy products which and almonds which are high in calcium can be useful for type 2 diabetics.

Vitamin B-6 5% RDA | We already know the importance of vitamin B6 from the meat section.

Conclusion (Biryani and Diabetes)

Now that we have analyzed all the major contents of biryani individually, we need to look into the proportion of each ingredient in a 100g of cooked biryani. Since, the yogurt least affects a diabetic metabolically, we will mainly focus upon rice and meat.

While serving a single person, on an average one person would eat at least 100g of rice and almost similar quantity of meat or may be even more, let’s say 150g. Thus one serving of biryani will contain: 

Calories273 
GI73high
Saturated fats1.3g6%
Carbs28g9%
Proteins28.7g57%

Therefore, cooking biryani is equivalent to accumulating the high glycemic status of rice with the high saturated fat content of meat.

Now, it is very important to tune the appropriate quantity of biryani before its consumption. If we reduce the serving size of biryani (with 100g rice and 150g meat) to its 1/4th, the glycemic load will come to 8 and the saturated fat content will stand at 1.5% RDA. However, the glycemic index cannot be changed by reducing the serving size. For this, it is suggested to have a post meal walk so that the rapid rise in blood sugar level due to the rice in biryani can be counter acted.

Good luck with your Biryani Mehfil!

T&C

Hey there, I'm a final year undergrad medical student at Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Medical College (SSRMC), Mauritius.

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  1. Pingback: Can diabetics eat Dosa? (Dosa for type 2 diabetics) | Diabetics Today

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