3 Health Benefits of Black Rice
Copyright 2012 - Kris Heeter, Ph.D.
Black rice a popular staple of more than a third of the world's population. It's recently been the subject of several research studies and some interesting health benefits have been identified.
Two studies in the last 18 months have found that black rice, or the bran (husk) from black rice has been:
- shown to have anti-inflammatory properties
- implicated in reducing the risk of some cancers
- implicated in promoting heart health
Black rice has in interesting history - once considered "forbidden", its now making a name for itself, along with a red variant of rice (red rice has been touted for it's ability to lower cholesterol).
History of Black Rice
Black rice was once known as the "Forbidden Rice" in ancient China because emperors and nobles sequestered every grain of black rice for themselves. The common people were forbidden from eating it.
Emperors would reserve this nutty flavored rice for their own consumption because it was thought to have fountain of youth properties. They believed it would extend their lives. In addition, black rice was considered somewhat of an aphrodisiac.
As it turns out, their beliefs (at least the healing properties that were perceived to extend life) had some validity.
A study out of the Department of Food Science at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, finds that a spoonful of black rice bran contains more anthocyanin antioxidants than an equivalent spoonful of blueberries. Blueberries have been touted as a "superfood" due to their extremely high antioxidant levels.
In addition, it was found that black rice has with less sugar, more fiber, more vitamin E than blueberries.
Anthocyanin antioxidants are being studied for their role in fighting heart disease, cancer, and a number of other diseases that are linked to inflammation.
In animal studies, black rice bran is shown to reduce skin inflammation by 32 percent and can reduce swelling associated with allergic contact dermatitis.
Where Can Black Rice be Found?
In the U.S., black rice can be found in many local food co-ops.
Food co-ops (aka "food co-operatives", "food coops") are voluntary organizations owned and controlled by members with the purpose to provide low cost, healthy food primarily to co-op members and often to the public. I was able to find the variant Black Japonica™ (sold by Lundberg) at my local food co-op.
It is also sold in Whole Food marts across the country.
Black Rice Recipes
Black rice can be used as a substitute for white or brown rice an almost any recipe. Instead of "Red Beans and Rice", why make it a red and black affair and go for "Red Beans and Black Rice"?
Or how about trying any of the following dishes that can be found a blackrice.com/recipes:
- Chinese Spicy Sesame Beef Stir-Fry with Black Rice
- Asian Black Rice Salad
- Eggs and Black Rice
- Black Rice Risotto
- Black Rice with Sweet Potato Scallions
- Brazilian-style Calamari with Black Rice
- Sesame Black Rice
Choi et al., Protective Effects of Black Rice Bran against Chemically-Induced Inflammation of Mouse Skin. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2010; 58 (18): 10007 DOI: 10.1021/jf102224b
Black Rice Rivals Pricey Blueberries as Source of Healthful Antioxidants. ScienceDaily, 2010.
Additional antioxidant and heart health articles of interest
Hidden in some common plant foods that we eat, lignans are cancer-fighting compounds that can easily be added into a daily diet. Find out what foods contain these antioxidants.
Black sesame seeds have been touted as having the ability to prevent or reverse gray hair. Is it true that these little seeds have anti-aging properties?
Seaweed has been found to to be a heart healthy food that it contains bioactive peptides that act similarly to ACE inhibitor drugs and has been shown to reduce atherosclerosis and thrombosis.
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