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Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Forbidden Black Rice

18 Aug 2021

A wooden bowl and wooden spoon holding uncooked grains of forbidden black rice

Black rice is actually a catch-all name for more than 20 varieties of Oryza sativa rice. The color of the rice comes from the antioxidant pigment known as anthocyanin, which is the same substance that gives blackberries and eggplants their dark color.

What Makes It “Forbidden” Rice?

Although folks use the terms “black rice,” “purple rice,” and “forbidden rice” interchangeably, proper forbidden black rice comes from Zhezhiang in northern China. It cooks more quickly than brown rice and is prized for its firmness and non-stickiness. Black rice has a low yield (about 10 percent), which makes it rarer than other types of rice. Because of this, it was reserved for the aristocracy in Ancient China.

What Are the Health Benefits of Black Rice?

Black rice has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine, but we’re only now starting to understand exactly how good it is for us:

  • Black rice is a good source of several nutrients. Compared to other types of rice, black rice is one of the highest in protein. It’s also a good source of iron and fiber.
  • Black rice is rich in antioxidants. In addition to the aforementioned anthocyanin, black rice contains more than 20 additional types of antioxidants. In fact, it has the highest antioxidant activity of all rice varieties. These antioxidants are all fat- and water-soluble, which means they can benefit multiple parts of the body.
  • Black rice is a great source for vitamin E. Black rice is rich in tocopherols, a major form of vitamin E. This makes it beneficial for eye and skin health, as well as your immune system.
  • Black rice has a low glycemic index. This means that consuming black rice can help slow the body’s absorption of sugar. This makes black rice a stable energy source and helps avoid the spikes in blood sugar that come with other foods rich in carbohydrates.
  • Black rice is gluten-free. We may be cheating a little with this one since all natural forms of rice—white, brown, or wild—are gluten-free. But still, this makes it an ideal option for folks with celiac disease, as well as gluten-sensitive individuals who are prone to negative gastrointestinal side effects like bloating and abdominal pain.
  • Black rice may help with weight loss. With its high protein and fiber content, black rice can help promote weight loss by reducing your appetite and increasing your feeling of fullness. In addition, animal testing has shown that anthocyanins can help reduce body weight and fat percentage. Whether or not these benefits extend to humans is still up in the air.


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