Black rice is a rare food item that, according to Chinese
legend, only emperors and their chosen favorites were allowed
to eat. The taste and nutrition value of this food item made it
regal enough for only royalty.
While black rice today still does not lend itself to frequent
dinner parties, it is by no means limited to one group of
people. In fact, new studies that reveal the antioxidant
properties of black rice may push it directly into the
What is Black Rice?
By definition, black rice is an “heirloom variety of rice
cultivated in Asia.” It is commonly sold with the husks still
in-tact. One popular way to serve black rice is with exotic
desserts, particularly because of its dramatic color. When
paired with fresh fruit like mangoes, black rice achieves
culinary stardom. It is often sold in stores under such labels
as “Forbidden Rice” or “Indonesian Black Rice.”
Historians speculate the name forbidden rice originated in the
royal court of China. Other Asian nations also enjoy the grain,
and each calls it by a distinct name. Today, black rice is
largely served with sweet dishes. While it can be included as
part of an entre, this is much more rare. Black rice is noted
for several distinguishing qualities:
It is less glutinous than other grains but is occasionally
treated to make it stickier
The strong and nutty flavor of black rice is sweet and rich,
especially compared to traditional white rice
The dense color of black rice is owed to its high iron content,
and it is also a viable source of fiber, vitamins and
In addition the above-mentioned nutrients, researchers have
also released a new study that determined the antioxidants
contained in black rice are greater than those of blueberries.
Presented at the 240th National Meeting of the American
Chemical Society, the study revealed that one spoonful of black
rice bran contains more anthocyanins (antioxidants) than the
same serving of blueberries. Health professionals prefer black
rice, however, because it also contains more fiber and vitamin
E antioxidants without the sugar.
In previous health studies, anthocyanin antioxidants have
demonstrated favorable cardiovascular profiles. What this means
is a decreased risk for heart disease. Anthocyanin is also
linked with reduced chances of developing cancer, improved
memory and a host of other health benefits.
Researchers with Louisiana State University found that lipid
soluble antioxidants in black rice contain greater amounts of
water soluble anthocyanin antioxidants. According to Joe
Vinson, Ph.D., this means different areas of the body can
therefore be reached. That is more beneficial than the
antioxidants found in brown rice or blueberries, but each of
those foods holds its own nutritional merit as well.
Black rice is not commercially grown in the United States, but
many supermarkets and health food stores offer it. The health
benefits of black rice lie in the bran, so consumers need to
choose whole-grain varieties when shopping. Health
professionals recommend looking for the words “whole black
rice” at the top of the ingredients list.
How to Prepare and Serve Black Rice for Dinner
Black rice is actually classified as brown rice because it is
unhulled. For cooking purposes, this means the technique
differs slightly from white rice. First, black rice requires
more water to help tenderize it. Soaking the grain for about an
hour before cooking it will help with this. Also, a quarter cup
more water than is recommended should be used for cooking black
rice. When using a rice cooker, take care that it does not
become overloaded and boil over.
A sweet recipe, Black Sticky Rice with Sesame Seeds, is
provided below for an easy way to try this healthful grain.
1 cup black rice
1-1/2 cups freshly grated coconut
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Dark brown sugar
Wash the rice well, place in a bowl and soak for at least three
hours in cold water.
When ready to cook, drain the rice and save all water.
Place rice in a heat-proof bowl and add cup of the soaking
water and teaspoon of salt.
Please the bowl on a trivet in a large pan with lid and steam
over boiling water for 45 minutes to one hour, until rice is
tender and water is absorbed.
Add more boiling water if necessary.
When cooked, toss with coconut, sesame seeds, teaspoon of salt
and brown sugar.
In fact, new studies that reveal the antioxidant properties
of black rice may push it directly into the spotlight. black
rice nutrition Historians speculate the name forbidden rice
originated in the royal court of China.