Eat Drink Better

Published on August 31st, 2010 | by Jeannie Moulton

5

Move over Blueberries, Black Rice may be the New Superfood

Maybe the ancient Chinese nobles were onto something when the forbade commoners from eating black rice.  It’s not because black rice is harmful – it’s because it’s delicious and healthful, and the nobles wanted it all to themselves.  Hence its moniker, Forbidden Rice.

Black rice is no longer forbidden and will likely become more common in the US as its nutritional properties are uncovered – it’s loaded with antioxidants and has other benefits as well.

Cheaper replacement for the “superfood” blueberries

Blueberries have recently been touted a “superfood,” as their high antioxidant content can help ward off aging, cancer and disease.  The deep purple hue that blueberries and black rice share is a product of the antioxidants they contain, as black rice has the same properties.

Antioxidants help neutralize free radical damage.  Recall that free radicals are compounds that are highly reactive, meaning that they want to combine with other compounds quickly.  If free radicals combine with material in your cells, this can be damaging or deadly.  Free radicals are necessary in our bodies for digestion or other processes, but our bodies have developed ways to repair damage by using antioxidants.  Pollutants and excess UV rays cause even more free radicals in our bodies, and if there is a lack of antioxidants, our bodies cannot fight back.  This is why antioxidants are so important.

For most people, blueberries are not much more than an occasional treat because of their price.  Black rice has the same superfood properties as blueberries, but it is much cheaper.  It also has more fiber and less sugar than blueberries.

Black rice vs. Brown rice vs. White rice

It is pretty well known that brown rice is healthier than white rice.  This is because brown rice contains more fiber and lipid-soluble antioxidants (the really good ones) than white rice.  White rice is simply brown rice with the outer shell removed.  When the shell is removed, so are some nutrients.

Black rice is not directly related to brown rice or white rice, but it contains even more of these healthy compounds than brown rice.

While it’s very healthy, the taste of black rice may not be for everyone.  It plays much less of a supporting role in dinner compared to white or brown rice.  Black rice is said to have a complex taste – a deep, nutty flavor, with a hint of floral.  It is also even chewier than brown rice – a possible turn off for people.

More healthful alternative to food coloring

As an added bonus, black rice bran may be a new alternative to food coloring.  Current food coloring additives have been rumored to cause anything from cancer to hyperactivity  to low sperm counts.  Not all food coloring is vegan, either.

Since black rice has such a deep purple hue, it could possibly be used to color things anywhere from pink to black.

Sources: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-08/acs-brr080610.php

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/08/26/black.rice.new.brown/index.html#fbid=9UYyVEfIwCh&wom=false

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_coloring#Criticism_and_health_implications

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

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About the Author

I spent the last five years earning my PhD in Engineering. I enjoy all types of science and writing, so I am trying out a new career path in science publication and communication. Recently, I have moved to Oxford, England. As an environmentally-conscious person, Oxford is a great place to live...notably there is no car required. I love to talk about vegan cooking, plant-based diets and the benefits of such, so just ask if you are interested. I do ballet for fun and love kitties.



5 Responses to Move over Blueberries, Black Rice may be the New Superfood

  1. I’m in, but where can I get it?

    • I’ve seen black rice at Whole Foods before. You might check Asian markets in your area, too. The one near me carries it from time to time.

      • karen says:

        Like anything else, you have to find out where it was grown and harvested. Black rice may be healthy but not if a ton of chemicals were used to raise the crop. Also, you have to be sure that they are indeed ‘black rice’ and not something else. Since it’s not that common, people might not be aware of what they are buying.

  2. Sam Rice says:

    I would consider black rice as a cheaper alternative for blueberries for antioxidant benefit but not for long. With the recent news of its benefits on the local front and all over the internet, people may begin to buy it thus having a high demand. But its current supply is limited right now, mainly coming from Asian countries, thus creating an imbalance and may raise the black rice. I think local farmers may want to augment this lack of supply by planting this variety locally. Unless they do it, black rice price may even surpass that of blueberries.

  3. Pingback: Blueberries May Bust Cellulite – Eat Drink Better

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