Idli and Dosa for Diabetes – Is it Good or Bad?

Last Updated on June 12, 2023 by Dr Sharon Baisil MD

Idli and dosa are two popular South Indian dishes that have gained widespread popularity beyond their native regions.

While they are generally considered healthy due to their low-fat content and high nutrient profile, there is some debate among experts as to whether they are suitable for diabetics.

In this article, we will explore the nutritional benefits and potential drawbacks of idli and dosa for people with diabetes, based on current scientific evidence.

GI scores of idli and dosa

GI scores of idli and dosa

Idli and dosa are an integral part of South Indian breakfast, but the thing we should bother about is the GI range of these dishes.

Veggie causing Diabetes

Studies reveal that the glycemic for idli is 80 and dosa is 77, both food items have a high GI which implies that it increases blood sugar levels.

Healthy foods have GI scores below 55 and foods with more than this value should be consumed at a reduced rate.

A larger amount of carbohydrate intake through the food does nothing good for the body, diabetes also becomes uncontrollable with this food habit.

But as this is part of traditional food people refuse to change their diet, which causes a rise in diabetes patients.


⭐ Check out this Flipbook with 30-Day Diabetic Meal Plan based on Foods from Each Indian State ⭐
(click on the ▶ arrow below to scroll the pages and 🔍 button to enlarge)


The rapid increase in cholesterol levels also affects the functioning of the heart and other organs, so it is required to switch to a proper diet to avoid more complications.

A healthy diet is one that is rich in proteins rather than a higher quantity of carbohydrates. Including proteins in your diet offers an opportunity to keep your blood glucose levels normal.

If you are in love with having dosa and idli for your breakfast, then some changes in the preparation of the dish or the curry can balance the diet.

Including more protein contents in the dish helps in the release of glucose effectively as the time taken for protein digestion is comparatively high.

Some of the low GI ingredients can be added replacing the usual elements that have high carbohydrate content to keep your diet balanced and healthy.

The best way can be to replace rice and refined flour with healthier ones like jowar, bajra, and ragi flour. This might be tough for idli lovers but understand that you are doing it for the sake of your health.

Is idli good for diabetes?

Is idli good for diabetes

The rate of diabetes patients is increasing rapidly and mostly it affects people due to unhealthy lifestyle and food habits.

People with diabetes have only the choice to reduce their blood sugar level otherwise it will lead to many other health complications.

Idli is the main part of South Indian breakfast which makes the mouth watery along with the chutney.

But idlis cannot be taken as an ideal food supporting health due to the high score of glycemic index, it raises the sugar levels in the blood rapidly.

Even though there is a threat of getting diabetes some people cannot stop eating this dish, for them, there are some suggestions not to get sick due to the consumption of carbohydrates.

Consuming idlis along with protein-rich sambar is advised by the experts as the protein takes larger time for digestion which gives sufficient time for the release of glucose.

Another suggestion is to replace the ordinary raw rice used for the preparation with some other variants of rice that has less GI.

The recipes for idlis adding cereals like oats, and vegetables, and including dals prepared with leafy green vegetables instead of coconut chutney are suitable for the diabetes patient.

How Much Idli Is Good For Diabetes?

The portion size of idli for a person with diabetes plays a crucial role in maintaining blood sugar levels. The American Diabetes Association recommends limiting carb intake to 45-60 grams per meal for most adults with diabetes. A single rice idli contains around 25 grams of carbohydrates, which is more than half the recommended limit. Therefore, it is best to opt for healthier variations such as oats or rava idlis that have lower glycemic index values than regular rice-based ones. It is better to restrict the intake of idlis to 2-3 per meal. Here’s a table showing the nutritional value of different types of idlis:

Type of IdliCalories (kcal)Carbohydrates (g)

Is dosa good for diabetes?

Dosa is another famous South Indian breakfast that has gained wide popularity all over India, and even in hotels, it has secured a prominent position on the menu.

But the carbohydrate richness of the dish calculated based on the GI score implies that having dosa without any control is an alert to health.

It doesn’t mean that people should not eat dosas for their breakfast but to follow some of the health tips to avoid rising up of your blood sugar levels.

Diabetes patients may think that they can’t have dosa with the increased GI score and the health experts tell them that they can eat this dish by limiting the count of dosas taken.

Another brilliant idea supporting your love for dosa is to make some changes to the recipe. These changes can be made by adding certain elements that can lower the blood glucose level in the body.

For the preparation of plain dosas mostly the ingredients used are raw rice and urad dal, other variations in dosas that are widely seen are masala dosa, paneer dosa, and several others.

Dosa is consumed mainly along with the sambar and chutney, coconut is used for chutney preparation which is also not suitable for diabetic patients.

For the chutney, some other ingredients can be tried to reduce the usage of coconut and alternate ingredients can be tried for dosa preparation also to balance the diet suiting a patient with diabetes.

Some of the interesting variations in the dosas nowadays are made with the lentils like green gram, black gram with fenugreek seeds, and ragi wheat dosa which is the best part of a diet that suits the health of a diabetic patient.

Which Dosa Is Best For Diabetics?

When it comes to dosa options for diabetics, it is essential to consider the impact of each ingredient on blood sugar levels. Alternative flours such as oats and ragi wheat are great choices due to their low glycemic index and high fiber content. Oats, in particular, can help prevent sudden spikes in blood sugar levels by ensuring a slow release of sugar into the bloodstream.

In addition to selecting alternative flours, toppings options should also be taken into account. It is recommended that individuals with diabetes consume dosas in moderation and avoid high-fat accompaniments. Instead, opt for vegetables such as onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers which add flavor and nutrition without adding excess calories or unhealthy fats.

When considering the nutritional comparison between different types of dosa, lentil-based ones like green gram (pesarattu) and black gram with fenugreek seeds (Mysore masala dosa) tend to have lower carbohydrate content compared to those made with rice flour. Portion control is key when consuming any type of food as well; therefore, it’s important not to overindulge even when making healthier choices such as alternative flour-based dosas.

Is There Any Sugar In Idli?

While dosa is a popular South Indian dish, it can be difficult to determine which type of dosa is best for people with diabetes. However, idli is a more straightforward option as it contains minimal sugar and has a low glycemic index. In fact, one idli only contains 0.1g of sugar.

As an alternative to white rice, idli can be incorporated into a diabetes-friendly meal plan. White rice has a high glycemic index and can cause blood sugar levels to spike, making it less ideal for those with diabetes. Meanwhile, the fermentation process involved in making idli actually helps to lower its glycemic index while also providing beneficial probiotics that support gut health.

For those looking to incorporate idli into their diabetic diet, there are many recipes available online that offer healthier variations of traditional idlis. These may include using whole grains or lentils instead of white rice or adding fiber-rich vegetables like spinach or grated carrots to increase the nutritional value. By pairing idli with chutneys containing healthy fats such as sesame or peanut, you can further promote stable blood sugar levels without sacrificing flavor.

Concluding words

Idli and dosa are two popular South Indian dishes that have been a staple in Indian households for centuries. However, with the rise of diabetes cases worldwide, many people wonder whether these dishes are suitable for diabetics or not.

When it comes to choosing between idli and dosa, both can be considered good options for diabetics as long as they are consumed in moderation and made using healthy ingredients.

As always, consulting with your registered dietitian or nutritionist about your dietary needs is recommended before making any changes to your diet plan.

Frequently Asked Questions


4 thoughts on “Idli and Dosa for Diabetes – Is it Good or Bad?”

  1. Is consuming raw coconut water beneficial. So also raw urd dal powder? Apple cider?


Leave a Comment