Black Rice: The Emperor’s Rice

Black rice on plate on wooden backgroundThis royal rice is the rice to eat! In fact, it’s known as Forbidden Rice in China since black rice was so rare, tasty, and nutritious that only the emperors were allowed to eat it. This nutritious rice isn’t forbidden anymore, so we can all take advantage of its amazing nutrition and disease-protective power.

Brown, red and black rice varieties are all more nutritious than white rice, even though I admit there are times when you just really want white rice. So anytime you can try to replace white rice with these more colorful varieties, do it. Black rice is the healthiest of the three. It’s almost double the fiber (4.9g fiber in 100g or 3/4 cup cooked) of even brown rice (2.8g fiber/100g) which has significantly more fiber than white rice (.6g fiber /100g). Black rice is a little higher in protein and a slightly better source of iron than both brown and white rice as well.

Particularly high in phytonutrients, black rice is a real boost to our health. Cornell University analyzed the phenolic content and antioxidant activity of black rice and found that antioxidants were about six times higher in black rice than in brown and white rice. These health-promoting antioxidants are called anthocyanins and are at levels similar to those found in blueberries and blackberries. Anthocyanins are potent anti-inflammatories that seem to improve chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, as well as brain function in regards to memory and age-related mental decline.

Organic Dry Multi Grain RiceThrow it into soups to get started. Eat black rice straight or enjoy black rice mixed with brown and white rice for a great taste. In fact, different colors of rice are sold mixed for convenience. Black rice comes in short or long grain variations. You may use a rice cooker or the stove top method to prepare, but if you soak it in water first, your cooking time will be shorter. Use stock or water, but make sure you add enough liquid. I found straight black rice needed more water than the package instructions indicated if I didn’t soak it first. If it’s not soft when the water is all absorbed, add more water and cook a little longer. It may have more texture than white rice, but it does have a pleasant taste.

Today, this black variety is no longer forbidden to the public and easily available to purchase, so eat up. Take October’s Healthy Challenge and add black rice to your table. Sell it to the family as part of the Halloween fun. However, you make it happen; black rice is another way to slip in whole grains along with valuable nutrients that are more commonly found in dark-colored fruits and vegetables.