Why Is Black Rice Good for You? Nutrition, Calories and Benefits
Black Rice is a variety of the rice species Oryza sativa L. that is black in colour. This article will discuss the benefits of adding Black Rice to your diet.
Black Rice is now considered as a ‘superfood’ by researchers and scientists due to its superior nutritional value and health benefits. It is also known as purple rice, forbidden rice, heaven rice, imperial rice, emperor’s rice, and king’s rice.
This black coloured rice has an amazing cultural history. In ancient china and Indonesia, Black Rice was exclusively reserved for the royal families and emperor. They used to eat this special rice to ensure their longevity and good health. Common people were not allowed to consume this rice without permission from the authorities. It was considered a serious crime and they had to pay a penalty for this. That’s why it was known as “Emperor’s rice” or “Forbidden Rice”.
Characteristics of Black Rice
Black rice grain has an attractive deep purple colour. This unusual colour is due to the presence of a powerful pigment called Anthocyanin. Anthocyanin is normally present in fruits such as blueberries and blackberries.
This rice has a specific intense flavor that is different from other varieties of aromatic rice. It has a refreshingly nutty taste and soft texture. These special characteristics make it very popular for dessert.
Origin of Black Rice
Despite its long history, the origins of Black Rice is not still clear. Research shows that Black Rice may originate from Sri Lanka, Philippine, Bangladesh, Thailand, Myanmar, and Indonesia. China is the richest country in the Black Rice resources (62%) followed by Sri Lanka (8.6%), Indonesia (7.2%), India (5.1%) Bangladesh (4.1%), and a few in Malaysia. Due to its recognition in Western countries, it is now also cultivated in small amounts in the Southern US as well.
In India, Black Rice is commonly cultivated and eaten in Manipur. In the Manipuri language, it is called “Chakhao amubi” which is eaten during community feasts. “Chakhao” means delicious while “amubi” means black. Thus translates the name to “delicious Black Rice“.
Different varieties of Black rice are cultivated in Assam too. The western Assam town Goalpara is now well known for black rice cultivation.
Types and Varieties
Black Rice includes several varieties of dark colour rice. It comes in some short-grain, long-grain, and glutinous varieties. All these are grouped under the term “Black Rice” because of the unusually dark colour of the grain. The types and varieties include:
Black Japonica Rice: It’s a combination of black short-grain rice and mahogany medium-grain rice grown together in the same field. This variety has a mild earthy flavor with a sweet-sharp taste.
Black Glutinous Rice: It is commonly known as black sticky rice. The grain is short with a sweet flavor and sticky texture. The colour of the grains is uneven and are often used to make sweet dishes in Asia.
Italian Black Rice: It is a combination of Chinese black rice and Italian rice. The grains are long with a rich, buttery flavor.
Thai Black Jasmine Rice: It is medium-grain rice from Thailand that combines Chinese black rice with Jasmine rice. This variety has a subtle floral aroma when cooked.
Black Rice Nutrition
Black Rice has wonderful nutritional values that are superior to any other rice. It contains 18 high-quality amino acids which are higher than any other rice varieties.
Black Rice is free of gluten, free of cholesterol, low in sugar, salt, and fatty acids. It contains the highest amounts of fibers, proteins, vitamins, and minerals than common white rice.
It also contains several vitamins such as Vitamins B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B9, and Vitamin E. Besides, it is a rich source of minerals including Iron, Zinc, Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, and Selenium.
Black Rice is a powerful source of antioxidants like phenolics and flavonoids. Anthocyanins are the main flavonoid compounds that can protect us from aging, cancer, and other health disorders.
Black rice is a competitor of blueberries in terms of antioxidant power. A study presented in 2010 at the American Chemical Society reports that one spoonful of black rice bran (outer husk) contains more anthocyanin than a spoonful of fresh blueberries. The antioxidant activities of Black Rice are twofold stronger than blueberries.
Black Rice Calories
One serving (1/4 cup or 45 grams) of medium grain uncooked black rice provides:
- Calories: 160
- Fat: 1.5 grams
- Protein: 4 grams
- Carbohydrate: 34 grams
- Fiber: 1 gram
- Iron: 6% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Sugar: Nil
- Fatty Acids: Nil
- Cholesterol: Nil
50 gm of Black Rice may provide 35% of RDA of selenium, copper, zinc, and magnesium per day. It is an excellent natural plant-based iron source.
Black Rice is superior compared to other varieties of rice as it contains more protein, fiber, and an extremely high amount of antioxidants which provides several additional health benefits.
Health Benefits of Black Rice
Black Rice offers many health benefits including the prevention and treatment of diseases. It is loaded with powerful disease-fighting antioxidants. Several researches suggest that it also has anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic properties and can reduce the risk of developing various chronic diseases.
Here are 12 health benefits of Black Rice:
1. Rich source of Antioxidants
The bran or outer husk of Black Rice is a rich source of antioxidants. It contains a higher amount of antioxidant compound named anthocyanin. The amount of anthocyanin in black rice is about 26.3%. Besides it also contains Vitamin E, which is also a powerful antioxidant.
Antioxidants are natural compounds that can neutralize free radicals and help to prevent oxidative damage. Research reveals that antioxidant supplementation can provide a preventive effect on the development of several disease conditions. It may improve your overall health and even may prevent you from serious conditions like cancer.
2. Prevent Anti-Inflammatory Diseases
Black Rice bran has the potential to treat and prevent diseases associated with chronic inflammation. This includes arthritis, joint pain, asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disorders, and even cancer.
Black Rice bran acts on the cellular level and thus improves cell health, reducing inflammation within the body. It performs as a therapeutic agent for the treatment of inflammatory disease and illness. The anti-inflammation compounds present in Black Rice also help to prevent certain types of cancer.
Black Rice also increases anti-inflammatory mediators such as superoxide dismutase. Thus it can prevent you from allergies, joint pains, atherosclerosis, and other symptoms related to aging. Research shows that black rice bran can help to suppress inflammatory skin conditions like dermatitis.
Another significant health benefit of Black Rice is its capability to decrease inflammatory responses in our body. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to protect us from bacterial and viral infections. Chronic inflammation is the root cause of many serious illnesses and diseases.
3. Black Rice is Good for Weight Loss
If you consume black rice regularly, it may help you to lose weight. It is unpolished rice and hence extremely high in dietary fiber. Dietary fiber can promote gut health, and aid your digestion process. Moreover, fiber is digested slowly and stays in our stomach for longer that curbs the feeling of hunger. As a result, our daily energy intake is reduced which leads to weight loss. Besides, Black Rice has low fat, low calories which help in weight loss.
Black Rice contains double the amount of dietary fiber of brown rice. Fiber bulks up the stool so it can facilitate easy bowel movements. Fiber also binds with toxic compounds in the colon and it is flushed out from the body as waste.
4. Improves Heart Health
Research shows that Anthocyanin found in Black Rice lowers LDL cholesterol levels (bad cholesterol) thus decreasing the probability of atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke.
Anthocyanins play a key role in lowering triglycerides and increasing HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) levels. It also hinders cholesterol absorption, lowers blood pressure, and keeps your heart healthy. Adding Black Rice to your diet may directly reduce the chances of developing cardiovascular and heart disease. It can also improve your heart health and function.
Black Rice is also a rich source of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber can prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and high blood sugar levels. American Health Association and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended increasing the consumption of Black Rice to prevent heart disease.
5. May Prevent Cancer
The antioxidant compound anthocyanins in Black Rice help to protect the body from cell damage that can cause cancer. It has excellent potential for cancer prevention and reduces the burden of the commonly occurring breast, prostate, and colon cancers.
Research shows that anthocyanins significantly hinder the spread of specific cancers by restricting the damage of DNA. It can prevent tumor metastasis in breast cancer cells.
6. Black Rice Benefits for Diabetes
Black Rice contains small amounts of sugar and high amounts of fiber which can protect you from diabetes mellitus. It does not trigger fluctuations in blood sugar levels that white rice tends to cause.
The essential minerals in Black Rice like iron, zinc, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and selenium help to regulate blood glucose levels.
Moreover, the antioxidant anthocyanins found in black rice improves insulin resistance, protects β cells, increases insulin secretion, and reduces digestion of sugars in the small intestine. Therefore diabetic patients should take the benefit by including Black Rice in their diet.
7. May Detoxify and Improve Liver Health
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential of Black Rice can help to detoxify your liver and improve liver function. Research shows that regular consumption of Black Rice may reduce the risk of fatty liver disease. It has a direct influence on liver health.
Black Rice may further protect you from various chronic health issues by supporting liver health and function. It increases fatty acid metabolism and helps to lower the risk of increased blood sugar levels and high cholesterol.
8. May Improve Brain Function
The antioxidant effect of anthocyanins found in Black Rice has a beneficial effect on improving brain function. It can help you to improve memory impairment and prevent or reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and depression.
Research shows that anthocyanins help to improve learning capacity and lower the symptoms of depression. The inclusion of Black Rice into the diet may boost your memory and prevent premature cognitive aging.
9. Black Rice is Anti-Allergic
Black Rice may help to ease the inflammation that occurs in allergies, asthma and other infections. The rice bran helps to control the release of histamine, which is responsible for the symptoms of allergies. Black Rice also helps to soothe the irritation and swelling that occurs due to allergic contact dermatitis.
10. May Prevent Constipation
Black Rice is a rich source of dietary fibers. Fiber bulks up the stool so it can be passed to the colon and out of your body easily. If you are suffering from chronic constipation include black rice in your diet as it helps in improving bowel movements.
11. Prevent and Cure and Anaemia
One of the most common and leading cause of anaemia is Iron deficiency. Black Rice is loaded with iron. The dark colour of the rice is due to the iron and anthocyanins content in it. Iron when consumed in its natural form, it gets easier to absorb in the body. Thus it is helpful for people who are anemic to improve iron content as well as their overall health.
12. Black Rice Benefits for Skin/Hair
Black Rice is a wonderful source of anti-oxidants that are superb for your hair and skin.
The antioxidants in Black Rice that is anthocyanins help prevent premature aging by fighting with free radicals produced in your body. Anthocyanins may stimulate collagen production and skin elasticity that makes your skin look younger and healthier from within.
The antioxidants in Black rice also promote hair growth by strengthening the hair follicles from within.
Culinary Uses of Black rice
Black rice is sticky in nature. The colour of the rice changed into deep purple/violet colour, when cooked. It is commonly used for making Boiled Rice, Sweet Pulao, Biryani, and Kheer. Bread, Cakes, Biscuits, Chocolates, and various types of Assamese Sweets & Pithas are made from Black Rice powder.
In China, Black Rice is used for preparing Porridge, traditional Chinese Black Rice Cake, Sushi, Pudding, and Noodles. In Korea, Black Rice is consumed by mixing with white rice. Wine or other beverages can be also prepared from black rice.
Black Rice is very popular as desserts. Furthermore, it is used as a condiment, dressing, or decoration for desserts in many countries around the world. The extract of the rice is used as a natural alternative to artificial food color in different beverages and food.
Where to Buy Black Rice
Black rice is indigenous to north-east India and is available in many grocery stores across this region. If you want to try Black Rice and can’t find it in local grocery store, shop for it online.
Black Rice is recently gaining popularity as “Super Food” which it truly deserves. It can provide a wide variety of health benefits along with their inherent calorie and nutritive value. Regular consumption of Black rice may eradicate the possibility of many chronic diseases. Though the popularity of Black Rice is growing in western countries, in India it is still less popular than white and brown rice and many people are not aware of it. Awareness should be created among the people about this “superfood” so that more people learn about the health benefits of Black rice.