According to the American Chemical Society, "black rice is a nutritious and economical food source that is estimated to feed about one third of the world's population." Also known as forbidden rice, black rice has a sticky texture and a nutty flavor. Grown in the Philippines and Indonesia, it is consumed mostly in Asia for noodles, sushi, pudding and adding decoration to food.
Nutrients in Rice
It is well-known that brown rice is a healthier alternative to white. The difference between the two is that white rice is devoid of bran, which is full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Like brown rice, black rice has similar nutrient levels and higher amounts of antioxidants. It is also a source of fiber and minerals, including iron. A 100 gram serving of black rice has 8.5 grams of protein, 3.5 milligrams of iron and 4.9 grams of fiber. Compared to white, brown and red rices, black rice has the highest amount of protein and double the fiber of brown rice.
According to Zhimin Xu, an associate professor in the food science department at Louisiana State University, "a tablespoon of black rice bran has more antioxidants than a similar amount of blueberries, with less sugar and higher levels of vitamin E and fiber." Black rice turns a deep purple when cooked and is packed with anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are phytochemicals found in deep blue and purple foods, which are thought to fight chronic disease such as cancer and heart disease.
Nutrition to Protect Against Heart Disease
Another kind of antioxidant found in black rice bran is thought to be responsible for lowering bad cholesterol levels, helping prevent heart disease. According to a study in the Journal of Nutrition, rabbits fed diets of black rice diet had 50 percent lower levels of atherosclerotic plaque than rabbits fed a similar diet containing white rice. Diets consisting of black rice have also been shown to alter other cardiovascular parameters, including lower triglycerides, a type of bad fat found in the blood, and improving HDL levels, also known as good cholesterol.
Black rice consumption has been associated with decreases in inflammatory compounds, specifically reactive oxygen species and aortic malondialdehyde, and increases in anti-inflammatory mediators, such as superoxide dismutase. Increases in inflammation are associated with disease and conditions such as atherosclerosis, arthritis, cancer, aging and allergies.
Other Nutritional Uses
According to the release by the American Chemical Society, "Scientists believe the pigments from black rice could have a future use for naturally coloring foods." Pigments produced from black rice include a variety of colors from pink to black, and when cooked, black rice turns a deep purple hue.