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The Magic of Black Rice: New Superfood

Updated on March 1, 2013
anglnwu profile image

A certified health and wellness coach, I love discussing food, health benefits and how to keep weight in check.

Black Rice, the New Superfood

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I never fully appreciate the magic of black rice until I stumbled upon an article praising the nutritional value of this once “forbidden rice.” Forbidden rice? I never knew that. Growing up, my mother would conveniently (we were poor and black rice is rather inexpensive in Singapore) make a big pot of sweet black rice (resembling black congee) for our mid-day snack. It was always served with generous drizzling of thick coconut milk, with a little salt added. Since, it’s almost a kitchen fixture, like the stove has sprouted a permanent pot of black rice, I didn’t appreciate it at all. I longed for ice-cream, lollipops and crackers. Anything but this black gooey dessert.

Of course, mom was right. You hear that often, but it bears repeating. They always are, on hindsight. As I read the article, I wonder at my mom’s nutritional intuition. How did she know, given that it took years to come to this scientific conclusion? Maybe, she did. In Chinese herbal medicine, black rice is often recommended as a tonic. It is believed to strengthen health and promote longevity, which explained its other alias: “longevity rice,” and “tribute rice” and it was reserved exclusively for emperors.

Once for the exclusive enjoyment of emperors, we can now find black rice anywhere, particularly in South-east Asia, where black rice is used in many forms: as steamed rice, in stir-fry, in salad and notably in desserts. If you are still new to the darker and more handsome (by way of nutrition) of this species of rice, black rice is quite the “king” of rice” when it comes to nutrition.

What is Black Rice?

Black rice is obviously named because of its black appearance. Sometimes, it’s also called purple rice because of its deep purple color when cooked. Its deep hue is due to a powerful group of antioxidants, called anthocyanins, the pigment that is responsible for the stunning colors of fruits and vegetables. To heap more accolades, black rice is also whole-grain and gluten free.

Black rice is a long-grain rice whereas black glutinous rice is short-grain.

Health Benefits

  • More Antioxidants

Blueberries have basked too long in the antioxidants' limelight. Now, a new champion has been crowned. According to Zhimin Xu, an associate professor at the Department of Food Science of Louisiana State University, “Just a spoonful of black rice bran (or 10 spoons of cooked black rice) contains more health promoting anthocyanin antioxidants than are found in a spoonful of blueberries, but with less sugar, and more fiber and vitamin E antioxidants.”

As have been pointed out in many health reports, anthocyanins protect against damaging free radicals that give rise to cancer, aging and cardiovascular diseases, amongst others.

  • Anti-inflammatory

Inflammation is often the cause behind a number of body ailments, including allergies, asthma, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and even aging. In a study published in the American Chemical’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers found that mice fed with a diet supplemented with 10 percent black rice bran significantly reduced inflammation of the ear skin compared to mice fed on standard diet or ones supplemented with 10 percent brown rice bran.

The study also found that black rice bran inhibits the release of histamine, a chemical that triggers inflammation. Black rice bran consumption can alleviate allergic dermatitis symptoms, such as swelling. Allergy and asthma sufferers may find relief by including black rice in their diet.

How to Make Basic Black Rice

You, too, can tap the magic of black rice by including black rice in your diet. The Louisiana researchers think that you don’t even have to consume large quantities of black rice to reap its benefits. Just one spoonful of black rice, mixed in your food can make a difference.

But given the fact that black rice is nutty and more interesting in flavor than white rice or even brown, you may not have to be arm-twisted to just eat a spoonful.

Here’s how to make basic black rice:

  • 1 cup black rice
  • 2 cups water

Directions:

  • Soak black rice in enough water to cover for at least 4 hours. You can also soak it overnight.
  • Drain rice. Place rice in non-stick saucepan and add 2 cups of water
  • Bring it to a boil and lower heat. Allow to simmer for about 40 minutes.
  • You can also use a rice steamer and steam rice until cooked, about 40 minutes or until tender.
  • Fluff rice and serve with your favorite meat or vegetables dishes.

More Black Rice Dessert Ideas:

How to Make My Mom’s Sweet Black Rice Dessert aka Pulut Hitam (in Singapore and Malaysia)

You make this dessert like you would make congee or porridge. Boil until tender and soupy like.

  • 1 cup black rice
  • 6 to 7 cups of water
  • ¼ cup sugar or Gula Malaka (sugar made from sap of sugar palm)
  • A few drops of pandan essence/extract or better yet, fresh pandan leaf (screwpine leaves) readily available in Asia.
  • A small bowl of coconut milk, lightly seasoned with a sprinkling of salt.

Directions

  • Rinse black rice and soak for at least1 hour.
  • Put black rice in a deep pot, add water and bring to a boil.
  • Lower heat and simmer until tender.
  • Add sugar and pandan essence/extract

Serve warm, at room-temperature or chilled. Just before serving, add a tablespoon or two of coconut milk. Stir in thoroughly and enjoy.

There are variations to this black rice dessert. It is also often cooked with red beans, lotus seeds, dates or dried longans for medicinal value.

Black rice: Promotes the flow of Qi (life-force in the body)

Red Beans (aka aduki beans or hong dou—Chinese translation of red bean): reduces swelling caused by accumulation of water, promote diuresis, clears heat, damp-heat, eliminates toxins.

Lotus Seeds: classified as an astringent, benefiting the spleen, kidney and heart.

Dates: nourish blood and spleen, promoting sleep and mental clarity

Dried Logans: add luster to skin, helps to detoxify and protect the liver

Recipe for using black rice, longans and dates:

Recipe: Nourishing Beauty with Sweet Rice Congee

 

Where Can You Find Black Rice?

Since the promising reports on the health benefits of black rice, the Louisiana University researchers have suggested that food manufacturers consider using black rice in the making of cereals, cakes, cookies, and drinks to boost nutrient levels.

But why wait? You can easily find black rice in Asian markets or buy it online (as always). Opt for whole-grain black rice as its outermost layer or bran holds the key to the above-mentioned health benefits.

Comments

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  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    5 years ago

    celeste, you're welcome!

  • celeste inscribed profile image

    Celeste Wilson 

    5 years ago

    Great advice thank you. :0)

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    5 years ago

    Celeste, good for you. You can usually find it at the Asian market. Soaking it first helps to cook it faster and mixing it with some white rice helps to soften the texture. Enjoy!! Thanks for checking back.

  • celeste inscribed profile image

    Celeste Wilson 

    5 years ago

    We just found Black Rice at Fred Meyer. In the aisle with jasmine rice and asian noodles. We can't wait to try it.

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    5 years ago

    Celeste inscribed, thanks for reading and commenting. I sure hope it helpes your mother. Enjoy.

  • celeste inscribed profile image

    Celeste Wilson 

    5 years ago

    This is an awesome hub. My mom suffers from chronic inflammation that causes severe migraines. We are going to try black rice and add it to her diet. Thank you and kindest regards.

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    7 years ago

    happypuppy, glad u find it useful. GIve it a try.

  • happypuppy profile image

    happypuppy 

    7 years ago

    Thanks for the useful information. I've seen black rice but have never tried it. I love porridge so I might try to make it using black rice :)

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    7 years ago

    RTalloni, more than pleased that you're doing that. Thank you very much.

  • RTalloni profile image

    RTalloni 

    7 years ago from the short journey

    Revisiting this hub to let you know that I have linked it to mine on black rice. Please let me know if you have any objection. Thanks again for introducing me to black rice!

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    7 years ago

    katie, you're so adventurous and totally cool because of that. Hope your pulut hitam turns out good and send some over. By the way, my husband grew up in Ohio and my daughter went to BalletMet for a summer ballet intensive 2 years ago. Should have know you then. Thanks again!

  • katiem2 profile image

    katiem2 

    7 years ago from I'm outta here

    I just bought five pounds of black rice, I love it, we eat it all the time being Vegan. I am excited to try your Mom's Sweet Black Rice Dessert aka Pulut Hitam, we have some amazing Asian grocery shoppes here in Ohio, I'll be picking up some Gula Malaka and pandan essence/extract tomorrow. Thanks :) Katie

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    7 years ago

    Good to see u here, Skye. Glad castor oil is still working fine and now, a superfood to add to our bags of healthy living. Hugs and blessings to you too.

    Thanks, mikeq, for your comments. You'll find it in the Asian market--glad u have one nearby:)

  • profile image

    mikeq107 

    7 years ago

    Hi Anginwu :0)

    Thank you great information:0)

    We just recently went on a veggie diet and I suffer from summer allergies...there is a huge asian market here in Portland..so guess what I`m buying today!!!

    Thanks again Mike :0)

  • skye2day profile image

    skye2day 

    7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Hello sister. I am on it. I am going to have great skin and great mind thanks to your hubs of love. Who would have thought. I am so grateful I have a food health sister at the hubs of love. Castor oil still working fantastic. Too bad we do not all use Gods wonderful gifts of nature for all our ailments. I am so thankful I was led to your hubs. I love ya. You keep on sharing and shining that light of yours. Hugs Galore. Many Blessings my friend.

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    7 years ago

    thanks, katie, I always like you when you drop by to comment. You will like it--it's nutty and so healthy.

  • katiem2 profile image

    katiem2 

    7 years ago from I'm outta here

    Thanks for the great cooking tips on the magic of black rice the new superfood. I appreciate this information on black rice as we enjoy rice and look forward to using black rice more and more. :) Katie

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    7 years ago

    Thanks, Kay, for commenting. You will find it in the Asian stores with the name "Black Glutinous Rice."

  • Kay Creates profile image

    Kay Creates 

    7 years ago from Ohio

    I suffer from allergies and so I'm very interested in this food's anti-inflammatory properties. I'll be looking for this at an Asian store in a nearby city.

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    7 years ago

    Maita, good to see u here. I got mine at the Asian store too. Enjoy.

  • prettydarkhorse profile image

    prettydarkhorse 

    7 years ago from US

    I will buy at the Asian store here angel, I saw it there! Maita

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    7 years ago

    Good to see u again, Vera. See if you can find it in the Asian stores. If not, let me know--I can always send u some. They may also be called Black Glutinous rice. Good luck and thanks for dropping by.

  • ReuVera profile image

    ReuVera 

    7 years ago from USA

    I didn't find black rice on our local grocery store. They had wild rise that was black, but it didn't look like black rice on your picture. I am going to check other stores in the area.

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    7 years ago

    Thanks, mecheshier, for dropping by to comment.

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    7 years ago

    Qudsia, thanks for commenting. Try it sometime.

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    7 years ago

    Thanks, Prasetio, for the encouraging comments. Enjoy your day.

  • mecheshier profile image

    mecheshier 

    7 years ago

    Great article. Very informative!!! Thank you for such a wonderful Hub.

  • QudsiaP1 profile image

    QudsiaP1 

    7 years ago

    I once came across a documentary about black rice, never eaten the stuff though.

    Your article was very informative. Thank you.

  • prasetio30 profile image

    prasetio30 

    7 years ago from malang-indonesia

    I heard many times about the benefit of black rice. I am glad to know this from you, me friend. Thanks for writing this. I learn much from you. Vote up. God bless you.

    Prasetio

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    7 years ago

    Yay, Rtalloni, good for you. Thanks for dropping by.

  • RTalloni profile image

    RTalloni 

    7 years ago from the short journey

    Thanks for sharing this info! I'm looking forward to trying it soon...maybe making it a staple since the benefits are so many!

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    7 years ago

    Thanks, treasuresofheaven, black rice is heavenly. Try it.

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    7 years ago

    Good to see u again, Vera. Check it out and let me know if you can find it. Thanks for your comments.

  • Treasuresofheaven profile image

    Sima Ballinger 

    7 years ago from Michigan

    I would like to try some of this black rice. Thanks for sharing your knowledge of black rice -- didn't know there was such a thing.

  • ReuVera profile image

    ReuVera 

    7 years ago from USA

    We have an isle with Asian food in our grocery store. I am going to check if they have black rice.

    Thank you for a great idea!!!!!!

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    7 years ago

    Lady E, you can probably find black rice in the Asian supermarkets. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Lady_E profile image

    Elena 

    7 years ago from London, UK

    I haven't seen this type of rice before - not even in our supermarkets...

    Thanks for the interesting read. If I see it, I will try your Recipe. :)

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    7 years ago

    Thanks again, Listlady, I always appreciate your visit and your kind comments.

  • TheListLady profile image

    TheListLady 

    7 years ago from New York City

    And super it is - not only do I like the way it looks - mixed with a little white rice - it's excellent.

    Great hub - you've covered it all. Thank you and rated up!

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    7 years ago

    Thanks, J.S. Matthew for commenting. Black rice is commonly used in SE Asia. I'm sure your wife can make you some really good dessert with that. Enjoy.

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    7 years ago

    BKcreative, good to see u again. I think black rice became even more popular after the nutritional report that just came out October of last year. I love black rice, in fact, I just had some. I love to cook it with some white glutinous rice--that way, it's smoother and it has a marbled effect--purple with white and all the shades in between. Thanks for commenting.

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    7 years ago

    Om, your grandmother and my mother would make very good friends. The pandan custard sounds delicious. Thanks for dropping by.

  • J.S.Matthew profile image

    JS Matthew 

    7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

    Great Hub! I have never heard or seen this rice but I consulted my wife who was born in Srok Khmer (Cambodia) and she is familiar with it. I can't wait to try it! Thanks for the Hub!

  • BkCreative profile image

    BkCreative 

    7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

    First, you are soooo right - our wonderful mother's were right.

    I recently got to know black rice here in NYC - it's the ideal place to eat because everyone lives here and as a result I have access to all sorts of wonderful foods from all over the world. My son and Daughter-In-Law took me to a Japanese restaurant and both ordered the black rice - which was kind of purple - just amazing. They knew about it before me.

    I have to get some. Thanks for the hub. I will bookmark and share with my cousin who recently asked me if I had ever heard of black rice. Your hub covers it all.

    Thanks a million and as always rated up. Yay!

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

    I grew up eating sweet black rice, too! I like its texture a lot. My grandma usually cooked it with sweet coconut milk and topped it with either pandan custard or sweet coconut flakes.

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    7 years ago

    Thanks, Katrinasui, for coming by. Enjoy your black rice.

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    7 years ago

    Thanks, fucsia, for dropping by. Yes, try it --you'll love it.

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    7 years ago

    Thanks, Ingeneira, for visiting. Knowing that you're familiar with foods from Singapore, I appreciate the visit even more. It's called forbidden rice, because commoners are not allowed to eat it at that time (during the Mind dynasty). Haha, now, we're promoted to royalty.

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    7 years ago

    Thanks, Tom, for commenting.

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    7 years ago

    Thanks, Ladda Bonnee, for the visit.

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    7 years ago

    I agree with you, Jill, black rice is more flavorful and it has nutty crunch to it. Sometimes, I mix it with white glutinous rice and then steam it. Your grandmother had it going. I wonder why it's hard to find black rice in the Philippines, as it's very easy to find them in Singapore.Again, appreciate your visit very much.

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    7 years ago

    Thanks, Pamela, for commenting. Yes, try it and let me know how you like it.

  • anglnwu profile imageAUTHOR

    anglnwu 

    7 years ago

    Pamela Red ( i've 2 good friends name Pamela,as you can see above), thanks for being the first to comment. Yes, you can easily find them in the Asian market.

  • fucsia profile image

    fucsia 

    7 years ago

    I did not know about black rice before but now I absolutely must try it!

  • Ingenira profile image

    Ingenira 

    7 years ago

    Hmm... I like this sweet black rice dessert, but never knew it has so much health benefits. :) Great info !

    I wonder why it is also called forbidden rice ? I never knew that before too.

  • profile image

    Tom 

    7 years ago

    Nice article, more detailed info about black rice benefits and black rice recipes can be found visiting www.blackrice.com website.

  • katrinasui profile image

    katrinasui 

    7 years ago

    I didn't know about black rice before. Thanks for writing hub on black rice.I love white rice so i will have to try black rice.

  • Ladda Boonmee profile image

    Ladda Boonmee 

    7 years ago from Vancouver

    Thank you for very useful information. I have seen black rice but never known its nutrition. Thanks again :)

  • jill of alltrades profile image

    jill of alltrades 

    7 years ago from Philippines

    I love black rice. I always found it more delicious than white rice especially if it's newly harvested. I grew up with a grandmother who exchanged our white rice with black rice or red rice all the time. She must have known about the nutritional value of black and red rice then. Now it's so hard to find black rice in the market.

    Thanks for bringing back happy memories about my grandmother and black rice.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Angiwu, I never heard of black rice but I am interested in trying it. I plan to try it since it is so good for you. Thanks for the information.

  • Pamela N Red profile image

    Pamela N Red 

    7 years ago from Oklahoma

    Great information. I've seen it at the Asian market but haven't tried it yet. I love white and brown rice so I'll have to try this one.

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