The “Forbidden Rice” – A Superfood Rich In Antioxidants

Shantha Kalia

Black rice, also known as Forbidden Rice, is nutritious and loaded with antioxidants.  It contains fiber and minerals, and has more health benefits than brown rice.  Indonesian black rice and Thai jasmine rice are common varieties available in markets.  In China, black rice was served only to the Emperor as it was the finest grain available with an exotic taste and appearance, and came to be called the ‘forbidden rice’ that was out of reach of the common man.  It was produced in small quantities only for the Emperor.

When cooked, black rice turns purplish in color due to the presence of anthocyanins, which are phytochemicals found in dark blue and purple foods.  Brown rice lacks anthocyanins and therefore does not have the same disease-fighting properties of black rice.

Black Rice – A True Superfood

Health benefits of black rice include memory enhancement, and lowered risk of cancer and heart disease.  Black rice has anti-inflammatory properties due to the presence of antioxidants, which helps reduce inflammation and lower the possibility of diseases that are linked to inflammation.

When you hear the word ‘superfood,’ you think of little berries and other antioxidant-rich vegetables, but not black rice.  However, black rice is a superfood with several health benefits.  Superfoods are nutrient dense compared to its caloric value.

Black rice is a superfood similar to blueberries, salmon, tea, chia seeds, etc.  A 100-gram serving of black rice contains about 8.5 grams of protein, 3.5 milligrams of iron, and 4.9 grams of fiber.  When compared to white rice, brown rice and red rice, black rice has the highest protein content and nearly double the fiber found in brown rice.

Researchers at Louisiana State University, led by a food scientist Dr. Xu, states that, “Just a spoonful of black rice bran 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.”  Dr. Xu states that black rice bran can be used to boost health as a unique and affordable nutrient to increase consumption of antioxidants.

Black rice is now available in the United States in specialty grocery stores such as Whole Foods.  Black rice has a nutty taste and can be substituted in rice dishes giving it a beautiful hue.

How to Cook Black Rice

Black rice is cooked like any other rice on the stove-top or a rice cooker.  In a rice cooker, the quantity of water must be slightly more than that is used for white rice.  It can be served as a pilaf or added to salads for crunch.  In Asian cooking, it is commonly used in noodles, sushi, and desserts.  Black rice bran powder can be used in soups, pancakes, etc.  It also finds use in sticky rice pudding.

Sources for this article include:

About the Author: Shantha Kalia is a health care professional at a New York City hospital. She completed her masters in Public Health, and has worked in various capacities in health care for over 15 years. She is a freelancer and contributes articles to various websites on various medical and health-related topics. Her interests include health and wellness, diet and nutrition, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. To read more articles by Shantha, please visit
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