Is Black Rice the Next Super Food?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
There are many cost effective and nutrient rich foods. Brown rice is one choice frequently selected as a side dish or to stretch a casserole. We have known for a while that fruits such blueberries and blackberries are high in antioxidants. New research presented at the American Chemical Society meeting has found that black rice might top them both in the cost effective nutritious super food category.

In China, black rice is known as "Forbidden Rice." This term was coined for the common person since it was primarily used only by the nobles. Today, there are many varieties of black rice used in Asia in favorites like sushi, pudding, as well as the emerging area of food decoration. The unmilled dark husks color the grain during cooking and give it a purplish color that cause some to refer to it as purple rice. Add to that the fact that black rice is categorized as a brown rice, and you can see why it can be a very confusing grain.

Here are some helpful quick facts about black rice.

  • It provides a fragrant aroma and a nutty taste and is lower in gluten compared to other rice. It is naturally high in iron (which leads to its color), as well as being high in fiber because of the bran.
  • It is rich in anthiocyanin antioxidants which assist in reducing risks of heart disease, cancer and other diseases. The new research suggests black rice bran extract will be used as additives in cereals, beverages, and baked goods. Be on the lookout for marketing hype touting these products as a good source of antioxidants.
  • The bran contains vitamin E compounds (same as in brown rice) that serve as antioxidants that reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) and may help fight heart disease.
  • Their bran extracts produce a variety of colors which could provide a healthier option for manufactures use in foods and beverages in place of artificial colorants.
  • Important to allow a slightly longer cooking time with slightly more water (quarter cup) during cooking due to the bran husk. Soaking the rice in water for at least an hour before cooking will help produce a tender product.
  • Has a short shelf life. It is best to store black rice in a cool cellar or under refrigeration and use within three months.
Recent research by a professor at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center found that black rice grown in Louisiana provides similar antioxidant properties to blueberries. Since the benefits are in the bran, it is important to be certain you are selecting varieties that have the bran intact. With farms in Louisiana showing interest in growing black rice, I'm sure we will see this grain more in the future.

Have you ever heard of or tried black rice? What do you find most interesting about this potential new super food?