As well as being cheaper than blueberries, black rice has more anthocyanin antioxidants, vitamin E antioxidants, less sugar and more fiber than blueberries, a presentation at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) revealed.

Black rice used to be consumed just by nobles in ancient China; it was considered the Emperor’s rice and was literally forbidden for anyone else to eat it.

Anthocyanin antioxidants show promise in fighting cancer, heart disease and some other illnesses/conditions. Black rice and its bran extracts could be added to food products, such as breakfast cereals, drinks, cakes and cookies to enhance their health and nutritional value.

Dr. Zhimin Xu, Associate Professor at the Department of Food Science at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center in Baton Rouge, La., who reported on the research, said:

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. If berries are used to boost health, why not black rice and black rice bran? Especially, black rice bran would be a unique and economical material to increase consumption of health promoting antioxidants.

Rice millers remove just the outer husks (chaff) from black rice to produce brown rice. Dr. Xu said that brown rice is the most widely produced rice variety in the world. When the underlying rich “bran” is removed we get white rice, which is less nutritious.

Rice bran, which is removed to produce white rice, contains high levels of gamma-tocotrienol, one of vitamin E compounds, and gamma-oryzanol antioxidants, which are lipid-soluble antioxidants. Studies have demonstrated that these valuable nutrients can lower LDL (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol ) levels in the blood – informally known as bad cholesterol.

Dr. Xu and team examined samples of black rice bran from farms in the southern USA. They discovered that it contains very high levels of anthocyanins antioxidants, which are water-soluble antioxidants.

The scientists say that:

  • Brown rice is healthier than white rice.
  • Black rice is probably even healthier than brown rice.

Black rice also has pigments which could be a healthier alternative to current food colorants used by food and drink manufacturers – black rice pigments range from pink to black. Xu said some current colorants are linked to a higher risk of developing cancer and childhood behavioral problems.

In Asia black rice is used for decorating foods, noodles and puddings.

Dr. Xu said there is increasing interest in growing black rice among the Louisiana agricultural community.

Source: American Chemical Society