Is Poha Good for Diabetics? | Know the Glycemic Index of Poha

Medically Reviewed by Dietitian Dt. SEEMA GOEL (Senior Dietitian) November 13, 2023

Introduction

Poha, a beloved Indian breakfast dish made from flattened rice, has earned a special place in the hearts of food enthusiasts across the country. With its delicious taste and versatility, poha is a favorite morning meal for many. However, for individuals with diabetes, dietary choices require careful consideration. They often wonder if poha is a suitable option or if it should be avoided due to concerns about its impact on blood sugar levels. After all, it’s primarily a carb-based dish, made from rice, which has a not-so-great reputation among those with diabetes.

Glycemic Index of Poha

Is beaten rice good for diabetes? To determine this, we need to consider its glycemic index (GI). The GI is a measure of how quickly a particular food raises blood sugar levels after consumption. Foods with a high GI are rapidly digested and absorbed, causing a swift spike in blood sugar levels, which is not ideal for diabetics. Conversely, low-GI foods are digested and absorbed more slowly, leading to a gradual and manageable increase in blood sugar levels.

Poha primarily consists of flattened rice, which has a moderate glycemic index. The exact GI can vary depending on factors like the thickness of the rice flakes, the cooking method, and additional ingredients. Poha has a GI value that ranges from 38 to 64, which is lower than many other types of rice. Hence, poha is good for diabetes because it has less refined starch compared to white or brown rice. The less refined starch takes more time to break down in our digestive system.

Nutritional Profile of Dry Poha

Here’s a general nutritional profile for 100 grams of dry poha:

  1. Calories: Approximately 350-400 calories
  2. Carbohydrates: Around 70-75 grams
  3. Protein: About 7-8 grams
  4. Dietary Fiber: Roughly 0.5-1.5 grams
  5. Fat: Minimal, usually less than 1 gram
  6. Vitamins and Minerals: Poha contains various B vitamins, including thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), and folate (B9). It also provides minerals like iron (1.2mg), magnesium, sodium (67mg), phosphorus, and potassium.

Please note that the exact nutritional content can vary based on factors such as the thickness of the rice flakes and any additional ingredients or spices used during preparation. Additionally, if you’re consuming cooked poha with added vegetables, the nutritional profile will be influenced by those ingredients.

Poha’s nutritional value makes it a good source of carbohydrates, particularly for providing energy. It’s relatively low in fat and contains some protein, which contributes to its overall macronutrient balance. The B vitamins and minerals in poha are essential for various bodily functions and overall well-being.

Read More: Is Jamun Good For Diabetes?

Benefits of Poha for Diabetics

Benefits of Poha for Diabetics

Diabetes patient can eat poha because of its following benefits:

Fiber Content

Poha is a good source of dietary fiber, which can aid in maintaining stable blood sugar levels. Fiber slows down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, preventing sudden spikes in glucose levels.

Nutrient Profile

Poha is rich in essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These nutrients are important for overall health and can support individuals with diabetes in maintaining their well-being.

Low in Fat

Poha is naturally low in fat, making it a heart-healthy choice. For diabetics, maintaining a healthy heart is crucial because they are at an increased risk of cardiovascular complications.

Satiety

Poha has the advantage of making you feel full and satisfied, which can help control portion sizes and reduce overeating, an important consideration for diabetes management.

Read More: Can Diabetes Patients Eat Oranges?

Incorporating Poha into the Diabetic Diet

Diabetics can enjoy poha as part of a balanced diet by following these tips:

  • Portion Control: As with any food, portion control is key. Keep your poha serving size moderate to avoid excessive carbohydrate intake.
  • Choose Ingredients Wisely: While preparing poha, be mindful of the ingredients you use. Add fresh vegetables like peas and carrots to increase the nutrient content without significantly affecting the GI.
  • Opt for Thin Flattened Rice: Thin poha has a lower GI compared to thick poha, making it a better choice for diabetics.
  • Balanced Meal: Pair poha with a side of source of protein like sprouts, yogurt, or boiled eggs. This combination can help stabilize blood sugar levels and promote satiety.

The Ideal Time to Enjoy Poha

Consuming poha at the right time can help maintain steady blood sugar levels. Here are some suggestions:

  • Breakfast: Poha is a popular breakfast choice in many households. Eating it in the morning allows your body to utilize the carbohydrates effectively throughout the day, preventing late-day spikes in blood sugar.
  • Before Physical Activity: If you plan to engage in physical activity, having poha about 1-2 hours before can provide the necessary energy without causing abrupt blood sugar fluctuations.
  • Balanced Meals: Whether you have poha for breakfast, lunch, or as a snack, ensure that your meal is well-balanced with adequate protein and vegetables to help manage blood sugar levels.

Read More: Is Apricot Good for Diabetics?

Common Misconceptions About Poha and Diabetes

In our exploration of poha and its relationship with diabetes, it’s crucial to address some common misconceptions:

All Carbohydrates Are Bad

One of the misconceptions that often arise in the context of diabetes is that all carbohydrates are off-limits. While it’s true that managing carbohydrate intake is essential for blood sugar control, it doesn’t mean that diabetics should avoid carbohydrates entirely. Poha can be a part of a balanced carbohydrate intake when consumed in moderation.

Poha Is Automatically Healthy

Just because poha is considered a traditional and wholesome Indian breakfast doesn’t mean that all preparations are diabetes-friendly. Some recipes may include fried elements, or unhealthy toppings. Diabetics should be cautious and choose healthier poha variants. For example, Chura Bhaja, a Bengali poha dish is crispy and flavorful, making it a popular snack. However, it is typically deep-fried, so it should be consumed in moderation due to the added oil and calories.

Poha Can Be Eaten at Any Time

Timing is critical for diabetics. Consuming poha late at night or in the wrong combination with other foods can lead to blood sugar spikes. It’s essential to be mindful of when you enjoy your poha to ensure it supports your overall diabetes management plan.

Read More: Are Sugar-Free Biscuits Safe for Diabetics?

Poha Variations for Diabetics

Poha Variations for Diabetics

Poha offers a versatile canvas for culinary creativity. Here are a few diabetic-friendly poha variations to consider and decide which poha is good for diabetes:

  1. Vegetable Poha: Enhance the nutritional profile by adding a variety of colorful vegetables like bell peppers, tomatoes, and carrots. This not only increases fiber content but also enriches the dish with essential vitamins and minerals.
  2. Sprouted Poha: Sprouting poha can make it even more nutritious. Sprouting enhances the bioavailability of nutrients and may contribute to better blood sugar control.
  3. Herb-Infused Poha: Add fresh herbs like cilantro, mint, or basil to your poha. These herbs not only impart vibrant flavors but also offer health benefits, including potential blood sugar regulation.
  4. Millet Poha: Consider using millets like foxtail millet or barnyard millet instead of flattened rice. Millets have a lower glycemic index and can be a great alternative for diabetics.

Read More: Are Peanuts Good for Diabetics?

Processed Poha Snacks

These snacks that are packaged and sold in markets are specifically targeted at people with diabetes are becoming increasingly prevalent. These snacks are designed to offer a convenient and ready-to-eat option for those managing diabetes, but it’s essential to approach them with some considerations in mind.

The Benefits

  1. Portion Control: Packaged poha snacks are typically pre-portioned, which can be helpful for diabetics who need to monitor their carbohydrate intake.
  2. Convenience: These snacks are convenient and require minimal preparation, making them suitable for on-the-go or when you’re short on time.
  3. Labeling: Many of these products have clear nutritional labeling, including information on the nutritional profile, making it easier for consumers to make informed choices.

Things to Consider

  1. Ingredients: Carefully read the ingredient list to ensure the snack is made from whole, unprocessed ingredients. Avoid snacks that contain unhealthy additives, preservatives, or excessive fats.
  2. Glycemic Index: While some packaged poha snacks are marketed as “diabetes-friendly,” it’s essential to check the glycemic index (GI) of the product. Even with poha as the main ingredient, the overall GI can vary based on how the snack is prepared and processed.
  3. Serving Size: Pay attention to the serving size mentioned on the packaging. Eating larger portions than recommended can lead to excess carbohydrate intake, potentially affecting blood sugar levels.
  4. Flavorings and Spices: Be cautious of highly flavored or spicy snacks, as they may contain added sugars, salt, or unhealthy fats.
  5. Variety: Ensure that you have a diverse diet that includes a range of nutrients. While these snacks can be part of your diet, don’t rely solely on them.

Remember that while poha is a convenient option for diabetics, it should be just one element of a well-balanced and carefully managed diet. A diverse diet that includes fresh, whole foods is typically the most effective approach to managing diabetes and supporting overall health.

Read More: Is Dragon Fruit Good For Diabetics?

Conclusion

Poha, with its moderate glycemic index and several nutritional benefits, can be a part of a diabetic’s diet when consumed mindfully. However, it’s important to remember that dietary preferences and responses to food can vary among individuals. Therefore, if you have diabetes, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian to create a personalized dietary plan that meets your specific needs and goals. In the end, a balanced and individualized approach to nutrition is key to effectively managing diabetes and ensuring overall health and well-being. So go ahead, savor the flavors of poha while keeping your diabetes under control, and relish the delightful taste of this breakfast classic.

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FAQs

Is poha a good for diabetes patient?

Poha can be a suitable choice for diabetics due to its moderate glycemic index and nutritional benefits. However, portion control and mindful ingredient selection are essential.

What is the glycemic index of poha?

The glycemic index of poha can vary based on factors like the thickness of the rice flakes and cooking method. Generally, it falls within the medium glycemic index range.

How can I make my poha more diabetes-friendly?

You can enhance the diabetes-friendliness of poha by choosing thin rice flakes, adding vegetables for fiber, incorporating sources of protein, and avoiding excessive salt.

Can poha be included in all meals for diabetics?

Poha can be consumed in various meals but should be balanced with other foods. For example, it can be a suitable breakfast option when paired with protein and vegetables.

Are there specific poha varieties recommended for diabetics?

Yes, diabetics can consider variations like vegetable poha, protein-packed poha, sprouted poha, or millet-based poha for added nutrition and better blood sugar control.

Can I have poha as a late-night snack?

Consuming poha late at night is not advisable as it can lead to elevated fasting blood sugar levels in the morning. It’s better enjoyed earlier in the day.

Is chivda good for diabetes?

Chivda can be a part of a diabetes-friendly diet when consumed in moderation and made with healthy ingredients.

Last Updated on by Dr. Damanjit Duggal 

Disclaimer

The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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