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Is Idli Good for Diabetes?

Published on: Jul 02, 2024
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Since I was a child, I remember my mom making idli and sambhar for breakfast every Sunday. At that time, I loved eating them in large portions.

Idlis are almost everyone’s favorite South Indian comfort food. Whenever we visit a restaurant or feel like eating something healthy and light that tastes awesome at the same time, idli is the first thing that comes to our minds.

However, many people who have diabetes are concerned about how their food choices impact their blood sugar levels. If you are among those wondering whether idli is a good option for diabetes management, this blog is here to help.

Let’s explore the nutritional aspects of idli and understand its effects on blood sugar levels.

What is Idli?

Idli is a traditional South Indian breakfast dish made from fermented rice and urad dal (black gram). These small, fluffy, and steamed rice cakes are loved by many for their light texture and mild flavor.

What is the Nutritional Value of Idli?

Idlis are low in fat, making them a popular choice for a healthy breakfast.

The fermentation process enhances the absorption of nutrients, making vitamins and minerals easy to digest.

A single idli, weighing approximately 35-40 grams, typically contains:

nutritional value of idli

What is the Glycemic Index of Idli?

The glycemic index (GI) of idli is considered medium, around 60-65 (based on the type of idli).

glycemic index of idli

This means that idli can raise blood sugar levels moderately but not as rapidly as high-GI foods/snack items like sandwiches, aloo paratha, and aloo puri.

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Is Idli Good for Diabetes?

Idli can be a good option for people with diabetes when consumed with sambar and chutney. The low-calorie and low-fat content, along with the fermentation process, make idli a healthy choice.

However, eating idli with mulga podi (gun powder) can cause blood sugar spikes due to its high glycemic index. To make idli suitable for people with diabetes, it should be paired with sambar, which contains protein from dal and fiber from vegetables, and chutney for added nutrients and fat.

Managing portion sizes is also essential to avoid blood sugar spikes.

Are There Any Benefits of Eating Idli in Diabetes?

Eating idli has several benefits for people with diabetes:

1. Low in Fat: Helps manage weight, which is important for diabetes control.

2. Fermentation: The fermentation process makes idlis easy to digest, which is beneficial for gut health.

Idli’s nutritional benefits make it a suitable choice for people with diabetes, especially when prepared with healthy ingredients, accompanied by sambhar, and eaten in the right quantity.

What are the Other Health Benefits of Eating Idli?

Besides being good for diabetes, idli has other health benefits:

1. Easy to Digest: Idlis are light and easy on the stomach.

2. Nutrient-Rich: Fermentation enhances the nutrient profile, making vitamins and minerals more accessible.

3. Low-fat: Idlis are naturally low in fat since they are steamed rather than fried. This makes them a heart-healthy option, especially for those looking to reduce their fat intake.

4. Gluten-Free: Idlis are naturally gluten-free, making them a great option for people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease.

5. Versatile: Idlis can be paired with a variety of healthy accompaniments like sambhar, chutneys, and vegetables, adding to their nutritional value.

Is there any Down Side of Eating Idli in Diabetes?

While idlis are generally safe, consuming too many can lead to higher carbohydrate intake, causing blood sugar spikes. Because they are low in fat, people may tend to eat more, which can contribute to overeating.

Additionally, from a psychological perspective, the perception of idlis being light and healthy might lead to less mindful eating, increasing the risk of overconsumption.

What are the Practical Tips for Including Idli in a Diabetes Diet?

1. Moderation

Limit your portion to 2-3 small/medium idlis per meal.

2. Accompaniments

Pair with healthy sides like vegetable sambhar or green chutney/onion tomato chutney/egg curry or have a bowl of salad with idli. In fact if idli is the only thing that you are having in that meal, try and add more salads to make it a fibe and protein-rich meal.

3. Add Fiber

You can add vegetables to the batter (like grated carrot, capsicum, onion, and tomato) or have it with a mix-vegetable sambhar.

Idli Recipe for People with Diabetes

1. Plain Idli

Time & Servings

  • Time: 10 minutes (cooking) + preparation time
  • Servings: 2
Ingredient Quantity
Rice 1/2 cup
Urad Dal 1/8 cup
Salt 3/4 tsp
Oil 1/4 tsp
Water 50 ml

Pre-preps

Step 1: Wash and soak 1/2 cup of rice and 1/8 cup of urad dal for 4 hours.

Method

Step 2: Grind the soaked ingredients to a smooth, thick batter of pouring consistency. Allow it to ferment overnight.

Step 3: Add 3/4 tsp of salt to the fermented batter and mix well.

Step 4: Prepare the idli steamer with the required amount of water and heat it.

Step 5: Grease the idli molds with a little oil, pour a spoonful of batter into each mold, and steam for about 10 to 12 minutes on medium heat.

Step 6: Once cooked, let the idlis cool for a few minutes before removing them from the molds using a spoon.

Step 7: Serve hot with coconut chutney, sambar, or any other accompaniment of your choice.

2. Moong Dal Idli

Time & Servings

  • Time: 15 minutes (cooking) + preparation time
  • Servings: 5
Ingredient Quantity
Moong Dal 1/2 cup
Urad Dal 1/2 cup
Rice 1/2 cup
Coriander Leaves 1/2 cup, chopped
Green Chilli Paste 1 tsp
Ginger Paste 1 tsp
Methi Seeds 1/8 tsp
Salt 1/2 tsp
Oil 1/2 tsp
Water 100 ml

Pre-preps

Step 1: Wash and soak 1/2 cup each of moong dal and urad dal with methi seeds for 4 hours. Separately, soak 1/2 cup of rice for the same duration.

Method

Step 2: Drain and grind the soaked ingredients until the mixture is smooth, thick, and of pouring consistency. Allow it to ferment overnight.

Step 3: To the fermented batter, add green chilli paste, ginger paste, chopped coriander, and salt. Mix thoroughly.

Step 4: Grease the idli mold with oil and spoon the batter into the greased molds.

Step 5: Cover and steam the idlis in an idli steamer for 10 to 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Step 6: Allow the idlis to cool slightly before removing them from the molds.

Step 7: Serve hot with coconut chutney, sambar, or any chutney of your choice.

What is the Best Time to Consume Idli for Diabetes?

You can eat idli anytime. In India, idli is typically consumed in breakfast, allowing one to use the energy from carbohydrates throughout the day.

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How We At Fitterfly Can Help You?

Although we all love eating idlis, considering them lighter than other foods often leads to overeating or unhealthy consumption habits, like eating plain idlis with chutney.

Many of our members opt for plain idlis without added veggies or sambhar, often due to time constraints during busy mornings. However, this practice can negatively impact blood sugar levels and contribute to diabetes.

At Fitterfly, we address these habits by first mapping your meals via CGM sensor (Continuous Glucose Monitoring) and evaluating Personal Glycemic Response. Our nutrition coaches then help design personalized meal plans based on this data.

Additionally, our Fitterfly Diabetes Prime program includes fitness coach to take care of your physical health and success coach to support your mental health.

To learn more about our Fitterfly Diabetes Prime Program, just give us a missed call on 08069450746, and one of our program advisors will reach out to you.

Disclaimer

This blog provides general information for educational and informational purposes only and shouldn't be seen as professional advice.

Read More

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Idlis Can A Person with Diabetes Eat Per Day?

It depends upon the weight of a person, blood sugar control, HbA1c, and current medication

- By Fitterfly Health-Team

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