Rice is a staple diet and ingredient in a vast range of cuisines worldwide. While white rice is most commonly found, there are several varieties available, such as brown rice, wild rice, black rice, and red rice.
Although all varieties are distinct in flavours and nutrients, black rice offers many health benefits and culinary usage. In this article, we will discuss numerous black rice benefits.
What Is Black Rice?
Black rice, popularly known as forbidden rice or purple rice, is one of the rarest rice varieties of the Oryza sativa species. It first originated in China and then spread to other parts of Asia around 10,000 years ago. As per studies, soon, over time, some cultures started crossbreeding rice grains to get steady colouration. Black rice is best known for its taste, colour, and health benefits.
Traditionally, black rice was used in Chinese medications and reserved for the aristocracy. Earlier, it was reserved for Chinese emperors to ensure their longevity and was forbidden for others. They are also known as emperor's rice or forbidden rice.
The low yield compared to other rice makes it rare. It consists of more than 20 varieties of rice that have a high quantity of pigment, anthocyanin. This pigment is responsible for deep colour and is also found in eggplant and blueberries. When cooked or soaked, the grains turn purple.
Most of the back rice varieties have a nutty flavour except for Chinese black rice, which is fruity and mildly sweet. The texture of black rice is chewy, so often used to prepare porridges, cakes, and puddings. Also, the best thing is black rice benefits people with gluten intolerance and celiac diseases as it is naturally gluten-free.
Usually, black rice is sold as whole grain with the outer layer, bran intact. So, technically it is a type of unrefined rice. It comes in short-grained and long-grained varieties. The most common variety of black rice includes:
- Black Sticky Rice: Used in Thai desserts
- Black Japonica Rice: Used in California for rice salads
- Chinese Black Rice: Used in Zhejiang in northern China
Black Rice Nutrition
Black rice is among the most nutritious rice varieties and is considered a superfood. It has more iron, protein, and fibres than regular brown rice. Also, it is rich in flavonoids, anthocyanins, amino acids, healthy fatty acids, and other antioxidants that add to its nutritional value. The micro and macronutrients present in the black rice are-
- Vitamin B2
- Vitamin B3
- Vitamin E
The black rice nutrition per quarter cup of uncooked black rice includes-
- Calories: 173 Kcal
- Carbohydrate: 38 gm
- Fat: 2 gm
- Protein 5 gm
- Dietary fibres: 3 gm
- Sugar: 1 gm
- Sodium: 4 milligram
The long-grained variety is healthy compared to the short-grained variety, with less starch and a low glycemic index.
Black Rice Benefits
Black rice is high in both fat-soluble and water-soluble antioxidants. As per studies, it has multiple health benefits. The black rice benefits include-
1. Excellent Source of Protein and Iron
100 gms of black rice has 9 gm protein while the same serving of brown rice has 7 gm of protein. Also, black rice provides 3.5 milligrams of iron per 100 gm of serving. Iron helps body cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. Black rice protein helps in maintaining body functions and repairing damaged tissues.
2. Loaded with Antioxidants
Studies show black rice has the highest antioxidants among the other rice varieties. The anthocyanin fights against the oxidative stress of the body. It also reduces the risk of Alzheimer's and certain types of cancer like breast cancer and colorectal cancer. Black rice has 23 more plant compounds such as flavonoids and carotenoids with antioxidant properties other than anthocyanin.
3. Packed with Amino Acids
There are around 18 different types of amino acids present in black rice crucial for body functions, repair, and regeneration of damaged cells. It also maintains the energy levels of the body.
4. Supports Heart Health
Black rice benefits heart health by regulating cholesterol and triglycerides levels. Healthy levels of cholesterol and glucose levels support heart health and reduce the risk of developing heart diseases. As per studies, regular consumption of black rice also prevents the formation of plaque deposits in the blood vessels leading to smooth blood flow. It prevents the risk of stroke and heart attack.
5. Good for Eyes
Vitamin E and carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin in black rice benefit eye health. It also protects against age-related eye degeneration that can also lead to blindness. Antioxidants also reduce the impact of UV radiation on the eyes.
6. Fights Inflammation
As per studies, the antioxidants in black rice reduce inflammation and increase the production of anti-inflammatory compounds. It fights the free radical damage of the cell and strengthens the immune system. It also treats diseases associated with long-term inflammations.
7. Supports Cancer Therapies
As per studies, Anthocyanins inhibits the growth of cancerous cells. It supports cancer therapy by preventing it from spreading to other organs. It also blocks the blood supply to the tumour and suppresses its growth. Also, as per studies, it suppresses the spread and growth of breast cancer.
8. Improves Liver Health
Fat accumulation in the liver can lead to fatty liver disease. As per studies, the antioxidants in black rice benefit the liver by reducing the deposition of fats in liver cells. They also restore normal functions of the liver.
9. Aids in Digestion
Black rice has rich fibre content that aids in regulating bowel movements. The fibres swell and absorb water and toxins. It adds bulk to the stools and helps easily remove waste from the body. It also prevents bloating, constipation and maintains a healthy gut.
10. Detoxifies the Body
The high antioxidant content in black rice helps the body get rid of harmful toxins. The plant nutrients in it pull out toxins and prevent the onset of several diseases related to it.
11. Healthy Brain
As per studies, black rice nutrients improves memory, learning, and cognitive functions. It limits the harmful effects of ageing and protects brain cells against damage.
12. Black Rice Benefits for Diabetes
Black rice benefits diabetes by exhibiting glucose reducing properties. Here is how it benefits-
- Black rice has a low glycemic index, which means its sugar is absorbed more slowly.
- It provides stable energy and avoids sugar spikes in the blood.
- It helps in the management of Diabetes Mellitus by improving insulin sensitivity.
- Black rice enhances the activity of glucose transporters and pushes glucose in cells rather than present in the blood. It helps in controlling glucose levels in the blood.
- Also, the anthocyanins present has starch digesting enzymes, which prevents glucose absorption.
13. Black Rice Benefits for Weight Loss
The black rice diet protects against obesity and disorders associated with it. As per studies, dietary fibres in black rice keep you full for longer periods and curbs hunger. Black rice benefits weight loss by reducing calorie intake.
Also, Black rice reduces high cholesterol levels in the blood. It suppresses the action of enzymes that are responsible for cholesterol production. It also helps in reducing body weight.
Incorporate a healthy amount of black rice in your diet with healthy low-fat ingredients for a successful weight loss regime. It is also suitable for people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance.
14. Black Rice Benefits for Hair
Black rice is great for your hair because it is high in antioxidants. It also contains vitamins and minerals that are essential for healthy hair. Black Rice Benefits for hair are as follows-
- Boost hair growth
- Treats split ends
- Add volumes
- Moisturises and nourishes the hair roots
- Makes hair shiny
- Strengthens hair inside out
- Helps get rid of dandruff
15. Black Rice Benefits for Skin
As per studies, the antioxidant-rich black rice benefits the skin by reducing oxidative cell damage. It fights skin ageing. Though research is still ongoing, it is also found to help treat eczema, hay fever, and skin allergies.
How to Cook Black Rice?
Although it has a different hue still, cooking black rice is similar to brown rice. It only takes a longer time to cook. You can steam it, boil it, or cook it in a pressure cooker. There are several ways to cook black rice, depending upon the black rice variety. For instance, If the variety is non-glutinous, then soak for 30 minutes and rinse it before cooking.
Soaking the black rice prior to cooking can reduce the cooking time. It is best to soak it 1 hour before cooking. One should not soak it overnight as it can affect the texture of cooked rice.
The three most common ways to cook black rice are-
- Electric Rice Cooker: Change the settings to brown rice and add water as indicated.
- Stovetop Absorption Method: Take a cup of rice and two cups of water in it. Boil for around 30-60 minutes. When it has a tender texture and water is absorbed, it is ready to eat.
- Pasta Method: Cook 6 cups of water to a cup of rice. Remove the excess water after cooking. It is considered the best method to reduce the risk of arsenic eating present naturally in the rice.
Uncooked black rice can be stored in airtight containers to prevent contamination. They should be kept in cool, dry, and dark places for up to 6 months. Whereas cooked black rice should be kept in the refrigerator in an airtight container. They will stay fresh for about 3-5 days.
How to Include Black Rice in Your Diet?
You can use black rice instead of white or brown rice to prepare dishes. You can eat them with curries just like white rice. It can serve as an excellent base for salads and vegetable bowls. It can be used to make sushi, puddings and desserts.
Another delicious way is to add black rice dishes to the diet. There are many recipes, but a few black rice recipes are-
- Black rice paella
- Black rice porridge with berries
- Black rice risotto
- Sweet potato and gluten-free rice grains
- Black glutinous rice pudding
- Chinese black rice cake
- Black rice dessert porridge
- Chicken soup with Chinese black rice
Black Rice vs Brown Rice
The black and brown rice are similar in consistency and flavour. You might be wondering, which one is better, black rice vs brown rice? Though both are healthy, here are the nutritional facts of ¼ cup cooked rice serving-
- 4 grams protein
- 32 grams carbohydrates
- 2.3 grams fibre
- 0.8-gram sugars
- 0.7-milligram iron
- The highest amount of antioxidants of any rice variety
- 1.9 grams protein
- 19.5 grams carbohydrates
- 1.1 grams fibre
- 0 grams sugars
- 11 grams calcium
- 0.4-milligram iron
In comparison, black rice has the highest antioxidants, protein, dietary fibres, iron, and also vitamin E, but brown rice has fewer carbohydrates.
Black Rice Side Effects
Like any other rice, black rice absorbs arsenic from the soil. To reduce arsenic consumption, always rinse the rice before cooking. You can also cook rice in excess water and then drain the remaining after cooking. As per a study, cooking black rice in a coffee pot can also reduce arsenic by around 85%.
Also, excess consumption may lead to black rice side effects, such as high blood sugar levels if you don't keep an eye on the portion size.
Summing Up on Black Rice Benefits
Though not very common, black rice or forbidden rice is a healthier alternative to all other rice varieties. It is loaded with antioxidants, iron, fibres, and protein. The black rice benefits include boosting heart, liver, eye, and brain health. It also lowers blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides levels.
The nutritious black rice variety is perfect for those who want to shed extra kilos and have gluten allergies. Be mindful of the portion size to avoid any side effects.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Can We Eat Black Rice Daily?
Yes, we can eat black rice daily. It offers excellent health benefits and is suitable for people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance. It is best to be mindful about the portions of black rice to avoid extra calories. Regular consumption of black rice boosts eye, heart, and brain health. It also aids in weight loss and protects against cancers, including breast and colorectal cancer.
Is Black Rice the Healthiest Rice?
Yes, among all rice varieties, black rice is the healthiest. It has more protein, fibres, vitamin E, iron, and antioxidants.
Black rice also has a lower glycemic index, so it means it will slowly release sugar in the blood, preventing sugar spikes. It is also high in fibre, around 4.7 grams per 100 grams and has the highest antioxidants compared to other rice varieties.
Is Black or White Rice Better?
Yes, black rice is better than white rice. While white rice has 6.3 grams of protein per 100 grams, black rice has 9.1 grams of protein. It has more antioxidants and fibres than white rice, not just protein.
Does Black Rice Make You Poop?
Yes, if you have constipation, black rice can make you poop. The high fibre content in black rice swells to absorb water and toxins. They will bulk up the stool and provide easy passage of it.
- Haruyo Ichikawa, December 2001; Antioxidant Activity of Anthocyanin Extract from Purple Black Rice - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12639403/
- Jie Zhou, December 2017; Black rice-derived anthocyanins inhibit HER-2-positive breast cancer epithelial-mesenchymal transition-mediated metastasis in vitro by suppressing FAK signaling - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5716451/
- Pornngarm Limtrakul, 2015; Suppression of Inflammatory Responses by Black Rice Extract in RAW 264.7 Macrophage Cells via Downregulation of NF-kB and AP-1 Signaling Pathways - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26028086/