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Could black rice be a better source of antioxidants than blueberries, blackberries, or even acai? Recent research at Louisiana State University suggests it is.

Black rice - a better source of antioxidants than blueberries?

he LSU scientific team found that this kind of rice has more of red and blue anthocyanin antioxidants than blueberries and other kinds of fresh fruit.

Dr. Zhimin Xu of the LSU Agricultural Center says that a single spoonful of black rice bran offers more antioxidants than a spoonful of the best berries, but with more fiber, less sugar, and more vitamin E. If berries help in the fight against heart disease, cancer, and other health problems, Dr. Xu says, why not black rice bran?

But it's not just rice bran that's healthy for you. The grain itself, eaten as a whole grain including the bran, provides all the antioxidant and vitamin power plus energy and amino acids. It just takes a little getting used to, because of its appearance, not because of its taste.

Black rice is very literally black. It was once known in Imperial China as "forbidden rice," because it was considered a food for the Emperor alone. At one time, Chinese law prescribed the death penalty for anyone else caught eating it. No longer grown just in China, this strain of rice is now one of several heirloom plants producing rice with black or purple grains now cultivated primarily in Indonesia.

Black rice in comparison with other rice types 

Black in the sack, this kind of rice actually turns a deep purple when it is cooked. Not as sticky as white rice, black rice has a deep, nutty flavor, a high iron content, and a good supply of most amino acids except lysine.

In China, black rice is being used to make black noodles. In the United States, it is being used to make a gluten-free "black rice bread." But it's not just black rice that has unusual health qualities. Even some kinds of white rice are not as "white" as others.

Kalijira rice is a rice with very small grains and a delicate aroma and texture grown in Bangladesh. It is traditionally served with aromatic spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. While it is excellent for pilafs and side dishes where the appearance of individual grains adds to the aesthetics of presentation, it is not the best rice for puddings, stuffings, or soups.

Importantly for health, kalijira rice has a high content of amylase sugars that give it a low glycemic index, that is, its sugars are released slowly by the digestive tract, making it a relatively healthy source of carbohydrate for diabetics who have room for rice in their meal plans, dieters, and endurance athletes.

  • Takashi Ichiyanagi, Bing Xu, Yoichi Yoshii, PhD, Masaharu Nakajima, PhD, Tetsuya Konishi, PhD. Antioxidant Activity of Anthocyanin Extract from Purple Black Rice. Journal of Medicinal Food. December 1, 2001, 4(4): 211-218
  • El-Sayed M., Young J. Christopher, Rabalksi Iwona. Anthocyanin composition in black, blue, pink, purple, and red cereal grains. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry. 2006, vol. 54, no. 13, pp. 4696-4704.

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