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Hi, I’m Alyssa! AKA, The PCOS Nutritionist Alyssa!

I’m a Registered Dietitian dedicated to helping you eliminate your PCOS symptoms with sustainable and realistic nutrition changes.

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What’s The Best Rice For PCOS? A Dietitian Answers

Since rice is a staple in many people’s diets, you may be wondering: what’s the best rice for PCOS? Should I even be eating rice? The short answer is yes, rice is fine to enjoy if you have PCOS. 

As a registered dietitian who has PCOS, I’m no stranger to these types of questions. In this blog, I’m going to break down which rice is the best option for PCOS and how to include it in your diet. 

different types and colors of rice with text overlay stating the best rice for pcos.

PCOS: Why Your Diet Matters

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder that affects approximately 6-12% of women of reproductive age. While the exact cause of PCOS remains unknown, it’s closely linked to insulin resistance, chronic inflammation, and high androgen levels (aka male hormones like high testosterone levels). 

Common symptoms of PCOS include irregular periods, infertility, weight gain, hair loss, hirsutism (excess facial and/or body hair), acne, and fatigue. Left unmanaged, PCOS can unfortunately put you at a greater risk of diabetes (particularly type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes), cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and metabolic syndrome. 

The good news is that your diet can make a significant difference in managing this condition. The foods you eat can directly impact your blood sugar levels, which can affect insulin resistance. Certain foods can also be anti-inflammatory to help reduce the low-grade inflammation that’s seen with PCOS. When you start to target these through nutrition and lifestyle changes, you can really start to thrive with PCOS.

Let’s dive into how rice can fit into a balanced diet for PCOS. 

Can I Eat Rice With PCOS?

Yes absolutely, you can eat rice if you have PCOS. Rice is a staple food for many cultures around the world. There’s also no reason to give up foods that you enjoy just because you have PCOS. I just like to think more intentionally about how to balance healthy food choices when it comes to managing PCOS…more on that in a little bit!

photo of different types of rice and a wooden shovel.

What’s The Best Rice For PCOS?

There are several different types of rice available for you to choose from. There are going to be a few common similarities between all types of rice. For example, all types of rice are going to have carbohydrates. The biggest differences come down to the amount of fiber and micronutrients that a type of rice has. 

I’m going to outline the differences between a few popular types of rice below, but I want to make it clear that any type of rice that you enjoy can fit into a healthy diet. 

White Rice

White rice isn’t considered a whole grain because it has had the bran, husk, and germ removed. When these parts of the rice are removed, many of the fiber and nutrients are also removed with it. 

After processing though, white rice is usually enriched with nutrients like B vitamins and iron. In fact, one cup of white rice actually contains 2.8 mg of iron, which is about 15% of a menstruating female’s daily needs. 

White rice does have a low amount of fiber compared to some other rice options though, with one cup having only 0.5 grams of fiber. Fiber is particularly important for mitigating a blood sugar spike, improving gut health, and keeping you feeling full. 

Brown Rice

Brown rice is considered a whole grain and has a slightly higher fiber content than white rice. One cup of brown rice has 3 grams of fiber. In theory, more fiber will help keep your blood sugar levels a bit more regulated, which is helpful if you’re insulin resistant. But a recent systematic review found that those with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes didn’t have better glucose control by choosing brown rice over white rice. It did find that brown rice reduced body weight and increased HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels compared to white rice though, which may reduce your risk of heart disease (1).

Brown rice isn’t enriched like white rice typically is, so the iron content is lower. However, there are higher amounts of antioxidants called flavonoids which may help lower inflammation. Brown rice is also a great source of magnesium, which is usually needed in higher amounts for those with PCOS. Magnesium is well known to be a calming mineral but it also plays a big role in lowering insulin levels. 

For more foods that can lower inflammation, grab your full list here: Anti-Inflammatory Foods List PDF

Wild Rice

This one technically isn’t a rice, but instead a type of grass seed…but it’s eaten similar to rice in modern day cooking. Wild rice has the same fiber content of brown rice, while having lower calorie and carb amounts.

As far as micronutrients go, wild rice is lower in magnesium than brown rice but it’s still a pretty good source. Wild rice also has a high amount of antioxidants, which is great for those of us with PCOS and chronic inflammation. One particular type of antioxidant it has is zinc. One cup of wild rice provides 28% of your daily zinc needs, which is especially important to lower insulin resistance, inflammation, and androgens.

Other Rices

Other popular rice options, particularly jasmine rice and basmati rice, are very similar nutritionally to white rice. They’re not considered a whole grain

During processing, many nutrients are lost, however, some nutrients are added back in during the enrichment process. These rices are lower in fiber but may be higher in certain nutrients like iron. 

infographic chart comparing the nutrition content of different rices.

How To Include Rice In Your Diet

All types of rice are going to be sources of carbohydrates. Carbs tend to have a more profound effect on blood sugar levels compared to protein or fat. This tends to be why rice gets a bad reputation, but honestly, carbs are necessary for a healthy diet. 

If you enjoy brown rice or wild rice, these may be better options since they have a little more fiber and other nutrients, like magnesium and zinc, that can benefit your PCOS. If you prefer white rice or jasmine rice, go for those! The differences really aren’t that drastic, honestly. 

Regardless of the type of rice you choose, you’ll want to balance it out with other nutrients that can keep your blood sugar levels more balanced, such as protein, fat, and fiber.

Here are a few examples of each:

  • Protein: poultry, lean red meat, fish, seafood, tofu, tempeh, edamame, beans
  • Fiber: whole grains (whole grain bread, quinoa, oats), beans, lentils, fruits, vegetables
  • Healthy Fats: olive oil, avocado, fatty fish, nuts, seeds

Here’s one of my favorite recipes that uses wild rice in it: Sweetgreen Crispy Rice Bowl

photo of a plate with crispy rice, blackened chicken, cucumbers, red cabbage, shredded carrots, slivered almonds, and spicy cashew dressing

Additionally, one final tip you may wish to consider is cooking your rice a day or two in advance and allowing it to cool before eating it. During the cooling process, the amount of resistant starch in the rice increases. This can cause more favorable blood glucose levels and it may be particularly beneficial for gut health

For more ideas on how to create balanced meals, don’t miss this post: A Dietitian’s 7 Day PCOS Diet Plan (PDF Included).

The Bottom Line

Rice is a staple food for many people around the globe. There are different types of rice available and they have varying nutritional values. 

White rice and similar varieties, like jasmine rice and basmati rice, tend to be lower in fiber but higher in certain nutrients like iron and B vitamins after the enrichment process. 

Brown rice and wild rice tend to have more fiber and other nutrients like magnesium, zinc, and antioxidants. Brown rice may make it easier to achieve and maintain a healthy weight if weight loss is your goal. If you enjoy brown rice or wild rice, these may be good options to choose more often. 

Regardless of the type of rice you choose to eat, you’ll want to balance it with other nutrients, like protein and fat, for more balanced blood sugar levels. 

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Can I Take Berberine & Inositol Together For PCOS?

Intermittent Fasting For PCOS: A Dietitian Weighs In

Maca Root For PCOS: Is It Worth The Hype?

Disclaimer: this is for informational purposes only. It’s not intended to substitute for or replace professional medical advice. Always discuss your medical concerns regarding polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or any other health conditions with your healthcare provider before making dietary changes.

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