Have you heard about the health benefits of black rice? Also known as forbidden rice, purple rice, or emperor’s rice, black rice is an ancient grain from the species Oryza sativa that has been consumed for thousands of years in Asian countries.

Make sure to try delicious vegan Black Rice Pudding!

Why “Forbidden Rice”?

It earned the name “forbidden” since, at one time, it was reserved for Chinese royalty but forbidden for anyone else.

Also check out Health Benefits Of Bamboo Shoots, Health Benefits Of Split Peas, and Health Benefits Of Passion Fruit.

Today, with the change in times and seasons, you can easily get black rice in the store or even order online.

Black rice is a unique and nutritious purplish-black rice. This is due to its high levels of anthocyanins, an antioxidant pigment that gives this unusual color.

The same antioxidant gives blueberries, eggplant, purple cauliflower, acai berries, purple corn, and concord grapes their color.

Black rice offers numerous health benefits that have been linked to its rich antioxidant profile.

Black rice plants in rice field in Thailand

What does black rice taste like?

The taste may vary depending on the variety, but generally, expect it to be nutty and earthy, similar to brown rice with mild but slightly more flavor than brown rice. It’s also chewier and denser, just like brown rice.

Where to buy forbidden black rice?

You can usually find black rice at an Asian grocery store. Also, you can easily black rice online from many retailers. Here are a few of my favorite options:

RiceSelect Premium Black Rice

Lundberg Family Farms Organic Black Pearl Rice

Lotus Foods Organic Forbidden Rice

Rebirth Rice Heirloom Thai Black Rice

8 Surprising Health Benefits of Black Rice 

1. It’s full of antioxidants

Black rice is the easiest way to get enough antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that prevent or delay some cell damage caused by free radicals by neutralizing them.

The main antioxidant in black rice is anthocyanin, a powerful compound linked to numerous benefits.

A comparative study found that black rice contains the highest levels of anthocyanin antioxidants than any other grain, including red and brown rice, red quinoa, or any other colored whole grain. Its anthocyanin levels are even higher than in blueberries.

Anthocyanin has been shown to protect against various conditions like cancer, heart disease, supporting brain health, and more.

Besides anthocyanin, black rice contains more than 20 phytochemicals with antioxidant properties, including various types of carotenoids and flavonoids. This enriches black rice’s antioxidant profile, making its addition to the diet very beneficial.

Black rice grains on wooden table close up

2. Promotes heart health

Numerous antioxidants in black rice have been shown to protect against cardiovascular conditions, including heart disease.

For instance, anthocyanins have been shown to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, both of which play a role in the development of heart disease. This is due to their ability to decrease atherosclerotic plaque formation in the arteries. This helps maintain clear arteries which further lower your risk of stroke and heart attack.

In a study on individuals with high cholesterol levels, researchers found that consuming 80 mg of anthocyanin supplements for 2 weeks decreased bad cholesterol (LDL) levels with a significant improvement in good cholesterol (HDL).

Furthermore, a study found that flavonoids such as those in black rice may lower heart disease complications, including death.

3. May offer anti-cancer benefits

Anthocyanins in black rice contain potent anti-cancer properties.

In one study, anthocyanin extract from black rice was shown to fight against breast cancer cells by preventing the formation of new cancer cells and facilitating programmed cell death to eliminate the cancerous cells.

Also, a 2018 meta-analysis found that anthocyanin-rich foods can inhibit the development of colon cancer by interfering with its cell cycle, preventing its spread, and initiating cell death.

4. Black rice may promote weight loss

Black rice is high in protein and fiber, which helps turn off your hunger signals, reduce appetite, and increase fullness, preventing overeating.

In one study, eating a mix of black rice and brown rice 3 times a day on a low-calorie diet resulted in more weight loss than eating white rice alone. However, more studies are needed on black rice alone, as the researchers wouldn’t tell whether brown rice enhanced the benefits of black rice in any way or vice versa.

Either way, whole grain rice varieties can help prevent insulin resistance, a significant factor in weight gain, obesity, and other metabolic conditions.

5. It may lower blood glucose levels

Studies have shown that whole grains can help slow digestion and regulate glucose release into the bloodstream. This is better than processed versions whose fiber and most nutrients have been stripped off and thus can easily cause a spike in blood sugar.

Chronically elevated blood sugar is a major risk factor for weight gain, obesity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes.

In one study, white rice was more likely to contribute to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes than brown rice. This also applies to black rice.

In place of white rice, white pasta, bread, and other processed cereals, brown rice or black rice can help regulate your blood glucose, thus lowering the risk of complications.

Uncooked black rice in white bowl on burlap napkin and wooden background

6. Naturally gluten-free

Gluten-free is a household name for most health-conscious people or those with gluten intolerance, like in celiac disease or any other gastrointestinal condition that may be made worse by gluten, such as irritable bowel syndrome.

Gluten is a protein in wheat and other grains like barley, rye, and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye) that’s generally difficult for the human stomach to digest.

As a protein, gluten is highly resistant to protease enzymes that break down protein during digestion. This allows large units of amino acids to cross the intestinal wall into the rest of the body, where they cause inflammation and other related issues. While some people can tolerate these side effects, some can’t, and these should avoid gluten-containing foods at all costs.

Someone with gluten intolerance can experience diarrhea, bloating, and an increased risk of leaky gut.

Instead of wheat-based pasta or any other wheat-based product, consider substituting it with black rice.

7. Improves digestion

The fiber content in black rice helps prevent constipation and promotes bowel regularity. It can also improve diarrhea since fiber adds bulk to stool.

8. It may support eye health

In addition to the protective anthocyanin, black rice is rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, 2 powerful carotenoid antioxidants that promote eye health.

They both protect eye cells from potentially harmful free radicals and lower the damaging effects of UV radiation and blue light.

cooked black rice in white bowl

6 Creative Ways to Use Black Rice:

Here are some ways to eat black rice if you’re looking for an interesting way to incorporate it into your diet or new recipes using this healthy food.

1. In your morning smoothie

If you’re looking for a nutritious breakfast option that won’t leave you feeling weighed down, black rice smoothies are perfect.

Not only do they provide a good source of fiber and protein, but they’re also sugar-free and low in calories. So, you can enjoy them without worrying about added fat or calories.

Plus, they’re easy to make and are perfect for prepping ahead of time!

2. In salads

Cooked black rice is an excellent grain option for topping salads because it has a rich, nutty flavor that pairs well with a variety of flavors. Here are six different ways to use black rice in salad dressings:

i. Black Rice and Avocado Salad: Combine black rice, diced avocado, and chopped fresh cilantro in a salad bowl. Dress with your favorite dressing, such as olive oil and lemon juice.

ii. Black Rice and Cranberry Salad: Combine black rice, chopped dried cranberries, and chopped fresh parsley in a salad bowl. Dress with your favorite dressing, such as olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

iii. Black Rice and Almond Salad: Combine black rice, slivered almonds, and shredded lettuce in a salad bowl. Dress with your favorite dressing, such as olive oil and red wine vinegar.

iv. Black Rice and Blueberry Salad: Combine black rice, blueberries, and chopped fresh mint in a salad bowl. Dress with your favorite dressing, such as honey and red wine vinegar.

v. Black Rice Quinoa Salad: Combine black rice quinoa with diced cucumbers, diced tomatoes, diced red onion, diced green bell pepper, and shredded romaine lettuce.

3. For breakfast porridge

Start your day off right with a hearty bowl of black rice porridge. Cook the rice in water or milk until it’s nice and soft, then sweeten it with agave nectar.

Top it off with some fresh fruit or nuts for a filling breakfast that will give you sustained energy all morning long.

4. In stir-fries

Black rice is a delicious and nutritious alternative to white rice. It’s also versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes, including stir-fries.

5. As a breakfast cereal

If you’re looking for a nutritious and filling breakfast, look no further than black rice cereal. Not only is it high in fiber, but it’s also a good source of thiamin, niacin, and vitamin B6.

Therefore, whether you’re trying to cut back on your calorie intake or just want something nutritious to start your day off right, black rice cereal is a great option. 

To make black rice as a breakfast cereal, all you need is some cooked black rice and your favorite milk or yogurt. You can also add in some nuts, seeds, or fruit if desired.

For the best results, make sure to stir the cereal regularly so that it doesn’t become clumped together.

6. Use it in stews or soups

Black rice is a great addition to any soup or stew because it is filling and has a mild flavor. It can be substituted for white rice in most recipes, and it will not affect the taste or texture of the dish.

Final Thoughts

Black rice is a nutritious but less common type of rice with a unique black-purplish color.

It’s rich in antioxidants and other nutrients like protein and fiber that have been linked to its excellent benefits. However, the majority of black rice’s benefits stem from its rich antioxidant profile.

Forbidden rice may offer different benefits such as maintaining a healthy heart, promoting weight loss, protecting the eyes, improving digestion, supporting weight loss, regulating blood sugar levels, and fighting against cancer.

Moreover, black rice is a healthy alternative to white rice and is great for gluten-free recipes like pasta.

And unlike ancient times, you can easily get it in the market in almost every part of the world.

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