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Brown Rice, Red Rice, Black Rice: The Antioxidant Powerhouse

Updated on July 13, 2020
Danny Fernandes profile image

Trying new recipes and tasting diferent cusines has always been my passion. I am specially fond of Oriental, Indian, and Mexican cuisines.

A Brief Reference on Rice Varities - White, Red, Black and Brown

Everyone is familiar with white rice and its benefits, but few are aware of the disadvantages. Although widely consumed and available, the snow-white color rice belies its worth.

Consuming large amounts of white rice is associated with Type 2 diabetes. Being high in Glycemic Index, it converts the carbs faster in blood sugar than other rice varieties.

There may be proponents and opponents to this theory, so I will not go much into the disadvantages as there are several brownie points for white rice also.

Nowadays, organic white rice is available, which is chemical, preservative-free, and is equivalent to the other rice varieties.

My aim is to break the aura surrounding the Red, Brown & Black types of rice. What is it that makes this triad more effective and nutritious than the white kind.

The answer lies in its color and composition. These groupings are less processed - meaning the husk, bran, and germ are not removed unlike the white one.

Removal of the outer layer strips the rice of all the essential nutrients and makes it bereft of calories.

Grains without the outer coverings provide you only false/empty calories, resulting in chronic diseases like diabetes and obesity.

Rice Dehusking Process: Grain Level Drawing

Click thumbnail to view full-size
First stage of Grain: Rice with ChaffSecond Stage of Grain: Brown RiceThird Stage of Grain: Rice with GermFourth Stage of Grain: White Rice with Bran ResidueFinal/ Fifth Stage of Grain: Polished and Ready to Boil Rice
First stage of Grain: Rice with Chaff
First stage of Grain: Rice with Chaff | Source
Second Stage of Grain: Brown Rice
Second Stage of Grain: Brown Rice | Source
Third Stage of Grain: Rice with Germ
Third Stage of Grain: Rice with Germ | Source
Fourth Stage of Grain: White Rice with Bran Residue
Fourth Stage of Grain: White Rice with Bran Residue | Source
Final/ Fifth Stage of Grain: Polished and Ready to Boil Rice
Final/ Fifth Stage of Grain: Polished and Ready to Boil Rice | Source

Visual Display of Red, Black & Brown Rice Types:

Organic Black Rice Plate
Organic Black Rice Plate | Source
Organic Red Rice Plate
Organic Red Rice Plate | Source
Organic Brown Rice Bowl
Organic Brown Rice Bowl | Source

Black Rice: Features, Benefits, Nutrition and a Sample Recipe

Black rice is a special type of rice belonging to the Oryza Sativa species. It was known as the 'Forbidden Rice' or 'Emperors Rice' in China, as only the Royal and upper class could afford to eat it.

The uniqueness of black rice lies in its color, which is primarily black, but turns deep purple (think brinjal) when cooked.

Very well-guarded down the ages and high in anti-oxidants and Iron, Black rice is medium-grained and contains the largest amounts of Anthocyanins.

It has a semi-soft, chewy, and nutty texture and tastes crunchy. The bran husk is not removed during processing, so the rice doesn't stick during cooking.

To date, it has not lost its coveted status and trades at INR 300/kg. But due to widespread farming of this variety, the rates and quality differ at every mill.

Every country has its own black rice varieties, and each packs a punch. It is widely grown in China, South East Asia, India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Philipines, Thailand, Indonesia, and many Asian countries.

India states of Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, and North Eastern states are the top traders. But the variety from North East is the most nutritious and healthy.

The Himalayan region has some best recipes of this rice type and has a tradition of growing black and red rice varieties for ages.

Among North-East Indian states, Sikkim and Manipur cultivate black rice extensively and are even exported.

In Sikkim, it is called 'Chak Hao' and is used to make rice-based desserts and snacks during festivities.

Bhutan has its own trademarks for its Black and Red rice variety, common being the Dreams of Bhutan & Bhutan Natural.

Thailand also has its own 'Black jasmine' or 'Riceberry' rice variety, which is quite popular.

Nutrition: A 100gm measure contains:

  • 360 kCal,
  • 3.5gms Fat,
  • 75gms Carbs,
  • 2.2gms Dietary Fibre,
  • 9gms Protein and
  • 2.4gms Iron.

Benefits of Black Rice:

  • Source of several nutrients
  • High amounts of Antioxidants. In all, 23 anti-oxidants are present in black rice.
  • A top source of Anthocyanins, and highest among all rice varieties. Anthocyanins protect against oxidative stress at the cell level, are anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer.
  • Protects against heart disease and prevents obesity.
  • High in minerals & gluten-free
  • Aids in weight loss due to high satiety levels.
  • May improve eye health, due to the presence of 2 carotenoids - Lutein & Zeaxanthin
  • May lower blood sugar levels
  • Boosts digestive health

How to Cook:

In order to derive the full flavor of black rice, it needs to be soaked in water for 1-2hr or overnight before cooking it. This reduces the hard texture and makes it easy to cook and digest.

The most common method of cooking is the soaking method, wherein the rice is soaked in a specific quantity of water or broth solution and then cooked.

The grain absorbs all the water at the end of cooking.

The second method uses a slightly different technique of mixing spices, herbs like thyme, fennel, celery, bay, and oil and toasted. It is then simmered in water or broth solution.

Black Rice can also be used as a side dish in salads, veggies, salmon, or any dish you find worth mixing with.

Sample Black Rice Recipe:

Red Rice: Features, Benefits, and Nutrition

Red rice is known by different nomenclatures - Camargue red rice of France, Matta red rice, Bhutanese red rice, Rosematta rice, Cargo rice, Parboiled rice, Kerala red rice, Sri Lankan red rice, Rakhtashali red rice, and Palakaddan red rice.

Matta rice is an indigenous non-polished russet-colored rice variety, grown in the Palakkad region of Kerala.

It medium to long-grained and chewy in texture. It is extremely nutritious and healthy, compared to brown and white varieties. Red rice is widely consumed in Indian states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu & Karnataka.

The red color of the rice is due to the Anthocyanin content, similar to black rice.

It has the highest nutritional value among rice varieties with the germ intact, and is eaten unhulled or semi-hulled.

The germ, bran is intact and so packed with nutrients, minerals, and vitamins.

Nutrition: It has 10x times more antioxidants than brown rice, and rich in essential fibers, proteins, and minerals.

Nutrition: 100gm measure contains

  • 360 KCal,
  • 3gms Fat,
  • 6gms Carbs,
  • 2.2gms Dietary Fibre,
  • 7.8gms Protein and
  • 5.5mg Iron

Benefits of Red Rice:

  • Source of calcium and magnesium, which is good for bone health
  • Fights obesity.
  • Beneficial against type 2 diabetes
  • Controls pulmonary functions and prevents asthma. Being a source of magnesium, its regular intake improves oxygen circulation in the body.
  • Aids in weight loss
  • Beneficial for heart health
  • May be beneficial against cancer, due to higher antioxidant levels
  • Helpful in digestive issues
  • Reduces fatigues. The fiber in red rice makes you feel full for a longer duration
  • Reduces cholesterol
  • Lifts the mood by providing more energy in fewer scoops
  • Useful in faster healing of wounds, due to the presence of Zinc
  • Contains high amounts of Vitamin B6, necessary for RBC cell production.

How to cook:

Take the ratio of 1 cup of red rice to 3 cups of water. Mix water, salt, and rice and bring it to boil in a pan.

As with black rice, red rice should be kept in water for at least 1 hr. Doing so quickens the cooking time and aids in digestion.

Reduce heat to low flame, close the lid, and simmer until the rice is tender and liquid absorbed.

Remove it from the burner and let it cool for five minutes. Red rice is ready!

You can also consume it as a side dish to vegetables, salads, risotto, and your other favorite dishes.

Brown Rice: Features, Benefits, and Nutrition

A close cousin to red & black rice varieties, brown rice is also nutritious and beneficial for health. It has a longer shelf life of 6 months. It is medium to long grain, flavorful, and semi-nutty in texture.

It is considered a whole grain as red & black rice, and less processed, polished than its white counterparts. The outer inedible hull is removed in brown rice.

The cooking times are longer and similar to red & black rice.

Nutrition: A 100gm measure contains:

  • 370 Cal,
  • 2.92gms Fat,
  • 77gms Carbs,
  • 3.52gms Dietary Fibre,
  • 7.85gms Protein and
  • 1.47gms Iron

Benefits of Brown Rice:

  • Helpful in the management of diabetes, due to the slow release of sugar
  • Good for cardiovascular health
  • Keeps the bones strong
  • Aids in digestion and regulates bowel function
  • Useful in weight management
  • Boost energy
  • Prevents gallstones due to high insoluble fibers

How to cook perfect brown rice:

In this method, boil 1 part rice in 6 parts of water for 30 minutes. Drain the excess water. Again keep it for heating, cover the lid, and let it steam for 15 minutes.

Voila, Perfect brown rice is ready!

You can serve it with veggies, salads, avocado bowl, and host of creative recipes.

Brown Rice Sample Recipe for Weight Loss:

Black, Red, Brown Rice: Visually Stunning Superfoods

Apart from the Black, Red, Brown & White rice varieties, there are numerous other rice types in different countries and regions.

Gold rice of Western Africa is one which was cultivated 1000 years back, but lost ground to the white varieties.

Wild rice is similar to black rice, but the difference is in the grain size and aroma.

Wild rice is long-grained with a nutty aftertaste. You require a ratio of 8 cups of water to 1 cup of wild rice. It has a carb ratio of 22g per 100gm rice.

Wild rice is a healthy alternative to other rice varieties, and turns tender when cooked for long hours.

Odisha, West Bengal are rice eating states in India, and have their own unique rice traditions and festivals. North-East Indian states grow the best organic wild rice varieties with their own brand marks.

In these times of rapid population growth, governments around the world are putting stress on food sufficiency and MSP to the farmers.

Yield per hectare is the buzzword for governments and farmers alike.

Agriculture departments around the world are conducting awareness programs for delivering superior agriculture techniques and implements.

Another issue that has taken center stage, is the arsenic level in rice due to pesticide and chemical spraying.

All rice varieties suffer from arsenic intake, but brown rice is the most affected. It has 80% more inorganic arsenic than white rice.

But that shouldn't make you switch entirely to the white rice, as brown rice has more nutrients.

Black rice & Red rice is grown organically, so the arsenic effect is nullified to a large extent in their case.

Now, the final question before the agricultural cartels is on making more pest-resistant, high-yield, climate-resistant, temperature-resistant, and sturdier varieties of rice grains.

Goa, in India, has already taken one step further to convert fallow farms for agricultural purposes.

St Estavem region in Goa is leading the farming revolution by undertaking community farming, and its growing leaps and bounds.

Organic brown rice is the main rice variety grown here. In fact, they have supplied rice bags in tonnes since starting in 2015.

Goa is also experimenting with sturdier and pest-resistant varieties and has come up with their own version of Jaya, Jyoti, GSR & Korgut, the last one being resistant to waterlogging and saline conditions.

So don't get left behind in the 'Rice revolution'. Get your pick of Reds, blacks & Browns.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Danny


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