Purple rice is one of more than 40,000 varieties of rice. While the nutritional values vary, all varieties of rice are a good source of carbohydrate, have almost no fat or cholesterol, and are a source of protein too.
Purple rice is grown mainly in Asia and has a deep black color that turns purple when cooked. It is slightly chewy and has a nutty flavor.
Several health benefits are attributed to purple rice, some of which are explained here
Heart health and cholesterol
Purple rice may help to increase the levels of good cholesterol.
According to a study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, purple rice contains more antioxidant compounds than white rice.
Antioxidants have been shown to promote heart health and may help lower the risk of some cancers. They help protect the body's cells from harmful free radicals.
Regarding heart health, studies have found purple rice, when part of a healthy lifestyle, helps to increase the levels of the good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in the body.
HDL cholesterol is vital for a healthy cardiovascular system. It has also been shown to decrease the atherosclerotic plaque formation in the arteries that can lead to heart failure.
As a rich source of dietary fiber, purple rice can help keep the digestive system working properly, preventing constipation and other digestive problems (see below).
There is a small body of evidence, some of it from animal studies, that the antioxidant properties of purple rice can help improve liver function, including restoring function after alcohol damage.
What is in purple rice?
Purple rice has a similar amount of calories as white or brown rice, yet it has more protein and fiber.
Compared to white or brown rice, purple rice contains more fiber and protein.
The British Nutrition Foundation state that protein is essential for growth and body repair, as well as the maintenance of good health.
All cells and tissues in the body contain protein, which is involved in a wide range of metabolic interactions.
Protein provides people with 10 to 15 percent of their dietary energy and is one of the most abundant compounds in the body, second only to water.
In the United States, adults are recommended to consume 0.8 grams (g) of protein per kilogram of bodyweight, which is equal to 0.36 g per pound of body weight.
It is also important for digestive health where it can help prevent constipation and may also protect against colorectal cancer.
Iron is needed to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body. A diet lacking in the mineral can lead to iron deficiency anemia. Men aged 19 to 64 and post-menopausal women should consume 8.7 milligrams (mg) a day.
Younger women, or those who lose a lot of blood during their monthly period, need more iron and should try to consume 14.8 mg a day through their diet.
One-quarter of a cup or a 50 g serving of purple rice contains around 180 calories, 6 g of protein, 2.5 g of fiber and 1 g of iron.
By comparison, 50 g of brown rice contains 180 calories, 3.77 g of protein, 1.8 g of fiber, and 0.65 g of iron. The same amount of white rice has around 180 calories, 3.56 g of protein, 0.7 g of fiber, and 2.15 g of iron.
Full nutritional values per 50 g of raw, uncooked, long grain rice:
|Purple rice||Brown rice||White rice|
How to cook purple rice
Purple rice may be used instead of brown or white rice in any recipe.
Purple rice should be rinsed three or four times in cool water before cooking.
Use 2 cups of water to each cup of rice and bring the pan to a gentle boil with a tablespoon of olive oil or butter, and a pinch of salt. It can also be boiled in stock, or in coconut water for a sweet taste.
Cover the pot and let it simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, which usually takes around 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, keeping the pit covered, and let it stand for 5 minutes.
For softer rice, use an extra quarter of a cup of water and cook over a low flame for a further 10 minutes.