Also known as forbidden rice, or emperors rice, black rice can be used in exactly the same way as normal white rice, but it packs a much higher nutritional punch. It’s also incredibly tasty and imparts nutty, slightly sweet flavour, which will enhance any meal.
It contains high levels of antioxidants which help fight inflammation, plus higher levels of fibre which help maintain balanced blood sugar levels, reduce weight and improve digestive health. Consumption of this grain reduces the risk of diabetes, cancer, heart disease and obesity.
Despite being eaten in regions of Asia for thousands of years, we’re only just starting to see it appear in health food stores around Australia.
Black rice belongs to the Oryza sativa species and comes in a range of different types. Thai black rice is a sticky or glutinous version of black rice which is often used in desserts in Thai cuisine. Whereas black japonica rice is a mix of short and medium grain mahogany rice which is grown together in the same field. This has a similar texture to regular white rice.
IS THIS ANCIENT GRAIN A SUPERFOOD?
Due to its high nutritional content and naturally high levels of anthocyanins, which is a powerful antioxidant that gives black rice, it’s unique colouring. In Traditional Chinese Medicine black rice is considered a blood tonic.
Sources show that the anthocyanin content of black rice is higher than any other grain, including brown rice, red rice, red quinoa or other coloured whole grain varieties. It even has more anthocyanins than blueberries!
Anthocyanin has the ability to help prevent a myriad of common but serious illnesses, according to numerous studies that have looked at the benefits of this antioxidant. Research shows that anthocyanin antioxidants can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, protect against cancer caused by free radical damage. They can also improve brain function, which can help reduce the risk of anxiety and depression and sharpen memory as we age. It also contains high levels of vitamin E, an important antioxidant which is useful in maintaining the health of the eyes and skin, whilst also supporting immune function.
HERE ARE 5 REASONS TO LOVE BLACK RICE:
1. Improves Cardiac Health
As mentioned above black rice helps reduce the risk cardiovascular disease. The anthocyanin antioxidants decrease the development of atherosclerotic plaques within the arteries, reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. It also helps reduce LDL cholesterol, which is another major risk factor for cardiac complications.
2. Detoxifies the body
Studies show that consumption of black rice helps support the liver in the removal of toxins. Animal studies demonstrate improved antioxidant status following black rice consumption, which translated to reduced oxidative damage and increased rates of detoxification within the liver.
3. Improves Digestion & Metabolic Health
The fibre in black rice helps prevent constipation, bloating and other digestive symptoms. Fibre binds to waste and toxins within the digestive tract, helping pull them out, thus improving bowel regularity. The dietary fibre found in black rice can also importantly help you feel full after eating and stay satisfied for a longer period of time between meals, reducing weight gain.
4. Balances Blood Sugar
Due to the high fibre content of black rice it is broken down at a much slower rate compared to other more refined forms of carbohydrate. This means a much more steady supply of glucose, which helps support more balanced energy levels, whilst also reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome a obesity.
5. Naturally Gluten-Free
Like other rice varieties, black rice is naturally gluten-free, so is a great alternative for people with Coeliac disease or NCGS (non-coeliac gluten sensitivity).
HOW DOES BLACK RICE COMPARE TO BROWN AND WILD RICE?
Black and brown rice have a similar consistency and nutty flavour. Wild rice (which is not technically a rice) also has a nutty taste, but it has a chewy outer layer and the grain on the inside has a somewhat vegetal flavour.
If you’re wondering how they compare nutritionally then here’s a comparison of the nutrient content of a ¼ cup cooked serving of each of these rice varieties.
Black rice: 4 grams protein 32 grams carbohydrates 2.3 grams fiber 0.8 gram sugars 0.7 milligram iron Highest amount of antioxidants of any rice variety
Wild rice: 1.6 grams protein 9 grams carbohydrates 0.7 gram fiber 0.3 gram sugars 1 milligram calcium 0.3 milligram iron
Brown rice: 1.9 grams protein 19.5 grams carbohydrates 1.1 grams fiber 0 grams sugars 11 grams calcium 0.4 milligram iron
Black rice has the highest amount of antioxidants, protein and dietary fibre. It’s also the best source of iron of the three, which can be hard to get for plant-based eaters who rely on grains and legumes for protein. When comparing black rice to brown rice, they both contain vitamin E, but black rice has a higher amount. All three options have almost no sugar per quarter-cup serving, but wild rice and brown rice have fewer carbs than black rice.
WHERE TO FIND AND HOW TO COOK BLACK RICE?
Since the health benefits of black rice are in the bran of the rice, you always want to purchase 100% whole-grain black rice. Be sure to check the label and look for the words “whole grain rice”, and make sure it’s the only ingredient on the list.
Due to its unrefined nature and increased density compared to white rice, cooking black rice will take slightly longer. For best results soak the rice for at least an hour before cooking (preferably several). After soaking rinse the rice and place it on the stove with two cups of water for every one cup of rice. If you’ve soaked the rice prior it should only take about half an hour to cook.