You might be familiar with brown rice — the healthier alternative to white rice. But have you heard about black rice?
Black rice—also known as purple rice—is a type of glutinous rice that retains its bran cover. The bran cover is packed with nutrients including anti-cancer properties. Black rice—when cooked—will have a black, burgundy, or deep purple color. It has a mild nuttiness to it, similar to brown rice.
Black rice is popular in Asian countries including Indonesia, Philippines, and China. It’s traditionally prepared as rice cakes, breads, or noodles. In China, black rice is known as the “forbidden rice,” because it was only served to emperors and noble rulers.
Milling and processing white rice removes its nutritional value such as complex B vitamins, iron, phosphorous, and manganese. On the other hand, brown and black rice goes through very little processing so the nutrients remain intact.
Although brown rice is popular because it allows dieters to enjoy rice without all the calories, black rice could be an even better option.
Health Benefits of Black Rice
It’s an Antioxidant
Did you know that black rice is a potent source of antioxidant that rivals that of the super food blueberry? Black rice contains the antioxidant anthorcyanin, the same anti-cancer compound found in blueberries. Just a spoonful of black rice contains more anthorcyanin than blueberries but without the sugar and with more fiber! Black rice contains the highest level of anthorcyanin in all types of food.
Anthorcyanin helps protect the body from cell damage caused by free radicals. Cell damage is believed to be the precursor to cell mutation, which inevitably leads to benign and cancerous tumors. What’s more, because the anthorcyanin in black rice is water soluble, it’s readily absorbed by the body unlike the oil-soluble antioxidants found in brown rice!
It Protects Against Heart Disease
Apart from having incredibly high levels of anthorcyanin, black rice also helps prevent heart diseases, lowers bad cholesterol level in the body, and stabilize blood pressure. A study by the Journal of Nutrition concludes that eating more black rice helps cut down the level of atherosclerotic plaque by as much as 50%. The study includes feeding two groups of rabbits with black and white rice respectively. The rabbits who ate more black rice exhibited lower atherosclerotic plaque than rabbits that ate regular white rice.
Adding more black rice to your diet may also help alter cardiovascular parameters, leading to lower triglycerides — it also improves HDL levels.
It Has Anti-inflammatory Properties
Boosting your black rice consumption may also help your body fight off infection effectively. Black rice contains anti-inflammation properties that decrease reactive oxygen species and aortic malondialdehyde in the body. Black rice also increases anti-inflammatory mediators—such as superoxide dismutase—leading to better prevention against allergies, joint pains, atherosclerosis, and other symptoms related to aging. The anti-inflammation compounds found in rice could also help prevent certain types of cancer.
If you think brown rice is packed with fiber, you’d be surprised to know black rice contains more fiber than the former. In fact, clinical tests show that black rice contains twice the amount of fiber content of brown rice. Fiber bulks up the stool so it can be passed to the colon and out of the body effortlessly. Fiber also binds with toxic compounds in the colon so it’s flushed out from the body as waste. And because black rice is processed minimally, it’s also packed with iron that remains intact even after you cook it.
It’s Low in Calories
Brown rice is known for having fewer calories than white rice. But black rice offers even lower calorie content, making it the perfect alternative to brown and white rice! Apart from having lower calories, black rice also helps you make you feel full longer so you don’t overeat. Although black rice counts as carbohydrates, eating black rice gives the body enough energy and more nutritional value than other types of carbs. All these health benefits contribute to faster weight loss!
It’s Low in Glucose
The body converts carbohydrates from the food we eat into glucose, a type of simple sugar. Too much glucose could cause weight gain. However, certain types of carbohydrates, like black rice, contain low glucose; this makes them a great source of carbs for those who are suffering from diabetes. People stricken with diabetes are advised to limit—if not eliminate—rice from their diet. Black rice is a great alternative to white rice and it comes with fewer risks of sugar levels spiking up.