11 Surprising Benefits and Uses of Black Rice
Black rice gets its signature black-purple color from a pigment called anthocyanin, which has potent antioxidant properties.
In ancient China, it's said that black rice was considered so unique and nutritious that it was forbidden for all but royalty.
Today, thanks to its mild, nutty flavor, chewy texture, and many nutritional benefits, black rice can be found in numerous cuisines around the world.
Here are 11 benefits and uses of black rice.
1. Good Source of Several Nutrients
Compared with other types of rice, black rice is one of the highest in protein.
- Calories: 160
- Fat: 1.5 grams
- Protein: 4 grams
- Carbs: 34 grams
- Fiber: 1 gram
- Iron: 6% of the Daily Value (DV)
Black rice is a good source of several nutrients, particularly protein, fiber, and iron.
2. Rich in Antioxidants
In addition to being a good source of protein, fiber, and iron, black rice is especially high in several antioxidants.
Antioxidants are compounds that protect your cells against oxidative stress caused by molecules known as free radicals.
They're important, as oxidative stress has been associated with an increased risk of several chronic conditions, including heart disease, Alzheimer's, and certain forms of cancer.
Despite being less popular than other rice varieties, research shows that black rice has the highest overall antioxidant capacity and activity.
In fact, in addition to anthocyanin, black rice has been found to contain over 23 plant compounds with antioxidant properties, including several types of flavonoids and carotenoids.
Therefore, adding black rice to your diet can be an easy way to incorporate more disease-protecting antioxidants into your diet.
Research shows that black rice contains over 23 types of antioxidants and has the highest antioxidant activity of all rice varieties.
3. Contains the Plant Compound Anthocyanin
Anthocyanins are a group of flavonoid plant pigments that are responsible for the purple color of black rice, as well as several other plant based foods like blueberries and purple sweet potatoes.
Research shows that anthocyanins have strong anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer effects.
Furthermore, animal, test-tube, and population studies have shown that eating foods high in anthocyanins may help protect against several chronic diseases, including heart disease, obesity, and some forms of cancer.
Anthocyanin is a pigment that's responsible for the black-purple color of forbidden rice. It's also been found to have potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer effects.
4. May Boost Heart Health
Research on black rice's effects on heart health is limited. However, many of its antioxidants have been shown to help protect against heart disease.
Flavonoids like those found in black rice have been associated with a decreased risk of developing and dying from heart disease.
Additionally, early research in animals and humans suggests that anthocyanins may help improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
One study in 120 adults with high cholesterol levels found that taking two 80-mg anthocyanin capsules per day for 12 weeks resulted in significantly improved HDL (good) cholesterol levels and significantly reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
Another study analyzing the effects of a high cholesterol diet on plaque accumulation in rabbits found that adding black rice to the high cholesterol diet resulted in 50% less plaque buildup, compared with diets containing white rice.
While this study suggests that eating black rice may protect against heart disease, these results have not been observed in humans.
Black rice contains antioxidants that have been shown to help protect against heart disease. However, more research is needed to understand black rice's effects on heart disease.
5. May Have Anticancer Properties
Anthocyanins from black rice may also have potent anticancer properties.
A review of population based studies found that higher intake of anthocyanin-rich foods was associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer.
Furthermore, a test-tube study found that anthocyanins from black rice reduced the number of human breast cancer cells, as well as slowed their growth and ability to spread.
While promising, more research in humans is needed to fully understand the ability of the anthocyanins in black rice to reduce the risk and spread of certain types of cancer.
Early research suggests that the anthocyanins in black rice may have strong anticancer properties, but more studies are needed.
6. May Support Eye Health
Research shows that black rice contains high amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin — two types of carotenoids that are associated with eye health.
These compounds work as antioxidants to help protect your eyes from potentially damaging free radicals.
In particular, lutein and zeaxanthin have been shown to help protect the retina by filtering out harmful blue light waves.
Research suggests that these antioxidants may play an important role in protecting against age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is the leading cause of blindness worldwide. They may also decrease your risk of cataracts and diabetic retinopathy.
Finally, a 1-week study in mice found that consuming anthocyanin extract from black rice resulted in significantly less retinal damage when animals were exposed to fluorescent lights. Still, these findings have not been replicated in humans.
Black rice contains the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which have been shown to protect your retina from potentially damaging free radicals. While anthocyanins may also protect eye health, research in humans is currently lacking.
7. Naturally Gluten-Free
Gluten is a type of protein found in cereal grains, such as wheat, barley, and rye.
People with celiac disease need to avoid gluten, as it triggers an immune response in the body that damages the small intestine.
Gluten can also cause negative gastrointestinal side effects, such as bloating and abdominal pain, in individuals with gluten sensitivity.
While many whole grains contain gluten, black rice is a nutritious, naturally gluten-free option that can be enjoyed by those on a gluten-free diet.
Black rice is naturally gluten-free and can be a good option for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
8. May Aid Weight Loss
Black rice is a good source of protein and fiber, both of which can help promote weight loss by reducing appetite and increasing feelings of fullness.
Furthermore, early animal research suggests that anthocyanins like those found in black rice may help reduce body weight and body fat percentage.
One 12-week study found that giving mice with obesity on a high fat diet anthocyanins from black rice resulted in a 9.6% reduction in body weight. However, these results have not been replicated in humans.
While research on black rice's role in weight loss in humans is limited, it has been found to help reduce weight when combined with brown rice.
In a 6-week study in 40 women with excess weight, those who ate a mix of brown and black rice up to 3 times per day on a calorie-restricted diet lost significantly more body weight and body fat than those eating white rice.
Given that black rice is a good source of protein and fiber, it may aid weight loss. Also, while animal studies have suggested that anthocyanins may have benefits for weight loss, more research in humans is needed.
9–10. Other Potential Benefits
Black rice may also offer other potential benefits, including:
- Lower blood sugar levels. Animal studies suggest that eating black rice and other anthocyanin-containing foods may help reduce blood sugar levels in those with type 2 diabetes. Human studies are needed to confirm these effects .
- May decrease your risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). A study in mice found that adding black rice to a high fat diet significantly reduced fat accumulation in the liver.
While more research is needed, black rice may help lower blood sugar levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes and reduce the risk of NAFLD.
11. Easy to Cook and Prepare
Cooking black rice is easy and similar to cooking other forms of rice.
To prepare it, simply combine rice and water or stock in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Once boiling, cover it and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the rice for 30–35 minutes, or until it's tender, chewy, and all the liquid has been absorbed.
Remove the pan from the heat and let the rice sit for 5 minutes before removing the lid. Use a fork to help fluff the rice before serving.
Unless specified otherwise on the package, for every 1 cup (180 grams) of uncooked black rice, use 2 1/4 cups (295 ml) of water or stock.
To keep the rice from becoming gummy when cooking, it's recommended to rinse the rice under cool water before cooking to remove some of the extra starch on the surface.
Once the rice is ready, you can use it in any dish in which you would use brown rice, such as in a grain bowl, stir-fry, salad, or rice pudding.
Black rice is prepared similarly to other types of rice and can be added to a variety of savory and sweet dishes.
The Bottom Line
While not as common as other types of rice, black rice is the highest in antioxidant activity and contains more protein than brown rice.
As such, eating it may offer several health benefits, including boosting eye and heart health, protecting against certain forms of cancer, and aiding weight loss.
Black rice is more than just a nutritious grain. When cooked, its deep purple color can turn even the most basic meal into a visually stunning dish.
If you want to try black rice and can't find it locally, shop for it online.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
By Dana M Bergstrom, Euan Ritchie, Lesley Hughes and Michael Depledge
In 1992, 1,700 scientists warned that human beings and the natural world were "on a collision course." Seventeen years later, scientists described planetary boundaries within which humans and other life could have a "safe space to operate." These are environmental thresholds, such as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and changes in land use.
The Good and Bad News<p><span>Ecosystems consist of living and non-living components, and their interactions. They work like a super-complex engine: when some components are removed or stop working, knock-on consequences can lead to system failure.</span></p><p>Our study is based on measured data and observations, not modeling or predictions for the future. Encouragingly, not all ecosystems we examined have collapsed across their entire range. We still have, for instance, some intact reefs on the Great Barrier Reef, especially in deeper waters. And northern Australia has some of the most intact and least-modified stretches of savanna woodlands on Earth.</p><p><span>Still, collapses are happening, including in regions critical for growing food. This includes the </span><a href="https://www.mdba.gov.au/importance-murray-darling-basin/where-basin" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Murray-Darling Basin</a><span>, which covers around 14% of Australia's landmass. Its rivers and other freshwater systems support more than </span><a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/latestproducts/94F2007584736094CA2574A50014B1B6?opendocument" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30% of Australia's food</a><span> production.</span></p><p><span></span><span>The effects of floods, fires, heatwaves and storms do not stop at farm gates; they're felt equally in agricultural areas and natural ecosystems. We shouldn't forget how towns ran out of </span><a href="https://www.mdba.gov.au/issues-murray-darling-basin/drought#effects" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">drinking water</a><span> during the recent drought.</span></p><p><span></span><span>Drinking water is also at risk when ecosystems collapse in our water catchments. In Victoria, for example, the degradation of giant </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/logging-must-stop-in-melbournes-biggest-water-supply-catchment-106922" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mountain Ash forests</a><span> greatly reduces the amount of water flowing through the Thompson catchment, threatening nearly five million people's drinking water in Melbourne.</span></p><p>This is a dire <em data-redactor-tag="em">wake-up</em> call — not just a <em data-redactor-tag="em">warning</em>. Put bluntly, current changes across the continent, and their potential outcomes, pose an existential threat to our survival, and other life we share environments with.</p><p><span>In investigating patterns of collapse, we found most ecosystems experience multiple, concurrent pressures from both global climate change and regional human impacts (such as land clearing). Pressures are often </span><a href="https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1365-2664.13427" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">additive and extreme</a><span>.</span></p><p>Take the last 11 years in Western Australia as an example.</p><p>In the summer of 2010 and 2011, a <a href="https://theconversation.com/marine-heatwaves-are-getting-hotter-lasting-longer-and-doing-more-damage-95637" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">heatwave</a> spanning more than 300,000 square kilometers ravaged both marine and land ecosystems. The extreme heat devastated forests and woodlands, kelp forests, seagrass meadows and coral reefs. This catastrophe was followed by two cyclones.</p><p>A record-breaking, marine heatwave in late 2019 dealt a further blow. And another marine heatwave is predicted for <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/dec/24/wa-coastline-facing-marine-heatwave-in-early-2021-csiro-predicts" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">this April</a>.</p>
What to Do About It?<p><span>Our brains trust comprises 38 experts from 21 universities, CSIRO and the federal Department of Agriculture Water and Environment. Beyond quantifying and reporting more doom and gloom, we asked the question: what can be done?</span></p><p>We devised a simple but tractable scheme called the 3As:</p><ul><li>Awareness of what is important</li><li>Anticipation of what is coming down the line</li><li>Action to stop the pressures or deal with impacts.</li></ul><p>In our paper, we identify positive actions to help protect or restore ecosystems. Many are already happening. In some cases, ecosystems might be better left to recover by themselves, such as coral after a cyclone.</p><p>In other cases, active human intervention will be required – for example, placing artificial nesting boxes for Carnaby's black cockatoos in areas where old trees have been <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/factsheet-carnabys-black-cockatoo-calyptorhynchus-latirostris" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">removed</a>.</p><p><span>"Future-ready" actions are also vital. This includes reinstating </span><a href="https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/a-burning-question-fire/12395700" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cultural burning practices</a><span>, which have </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/australia-you-have-unfinished-business-its-time-to-let-our-fire-people-care-for-this-land-135196" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">multiple values and benefits for Aboriginal communities</a><span> and can help minimize the risk and strength of bushfires.</span></p><p>It might also include replanting banks along the Murray River with species better suited to <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/my-garden-path---matt-hansen/12322978" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">warmer conditions</a>.</p><p>Some actions may be small and localized, but have substantial positive benefits.</p><p>For example, billions of migrating Bogong moths, the main summer food for critically endangered mountain pygmy possums, have not arrived in their typical numbers in Australian alpine regions in recent years. This was further exacerbated by the <a href="https://theconversation.com/six-million-hectares-of-threatened-species-habitat-up-in-smoke-129438" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2019-20</a> fires. Brilliantly, <a href="https://www.zoo.org.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zoos Victoria</a> anticipated this pressure and developed supplementary food — <a href="https://theconversation.com/looks-like-an-anzac-biscuit-tastes-like-a-protein-bar-bogong-bikkies-help-mountain-pygmy-possums-after-fire-131045" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bogong bikkies</a>.</p><p><span>Other more challenging, global or large-scale actions must address the </span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iICpI9H0GkU&t=34s" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">root cause of environmental threats</a><span>, such as </span><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-018-0504-8" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">human population growth and per-capita consumption</a><span> of environmental resources.</span><br></p><p>We must rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero, remove or suppress invasive species such as <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/mam.12080" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">feral cats</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-buffel-kerfuffle-how-one-species-quietly-destroys-native-wildlife-and-cultural-sites-in-arid-australia-149456" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">buffel grass</a>, and stop widespread <a href="https://theconversation.com/to-reduce-fire-risk-and-meet-climate-targets-over-300-scientists-call-for-stronger-land-clearing-laws-113172" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">land clearing</a> and other forms of habitat destruction.</p>
Our Lives Depend On It<p>The multiple ecosystem collapses we have documented in Australia are a harbinger for <a href="https://www.iucn.org/news/protected-areas/202102/natures-future-our-future-world-speaks" target="_blank">environments globally</a>.</p><p>The simplicity of the 3As is to show people <em>can</em> do something positive, either at the local level of a landcare group, or at the level of government departments and conservation agencies.</p><p>Our lives and those of our <a href="https://theconversation.com/children-are-our-future-and-the-planets-heres-how-you-can-teach-them-to-take-care-of-it-113759" target="_blank">children</a>, as well as our <a href="https://theconversation.com/taking-care-of-business-the-private-sector-is-waking-up-to-natures-value-153786" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">economies</a>, societies and <a href="https://theconversation.com/to-address-the-ecological-crisis-aboriginal-peoples-must-be-restored-as-custodians-of-country-108594" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cultures</a>, depend on it.</p><p>We simply cannot afford any further delay.</p><p><em><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dana-m-bergstrom-1008495" target="_blank" style="">Dana M Bergstrom</a> is a principal research scientist at the University of Wollongong. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/euan-ritchie-735" target="_blank" style="">Euan Ritchie</a> is a professor in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life & Environmental Sciences at Deakin University. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lesley-hughes-5823" target="_blank">Lesley Hughes</a> is a professor at the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michael-depledge-114659" target="_blank">Michael Depledge</a> is a professor and chair, Environment and Human Health, at the University of Exeter. </em></p><p><em>Disclosure statements: Dana Bergstrom works for the Australian Antarctic Division and is a Visiting Fellow at the University of Wollongong. Her research including fieldwork on Macquarie Island and in Antarctica was supported by the Australian Antarctic Division.</em></p><p><em>Euan Ritchie receives funding from the Australian Research Council, The Australia and Pacific Science Foundation, Australian Geographic, Parks Victoria, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC. Euan Ritchie is a Director (Media Working Group) of the Ecological Society of Australia, and a member of the Australian Mammal Society.</em></p><p><em>Lesley Hughes receives funding from the Australian Research Council. She is a Councillor with the Climate Council of Australia, a member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists and a Director of WWF-Australia.</em></p><p><em>Michael Depledge does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.</em></p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://theconversation.com/existential-threat-to-our-survival-see-the-19-australian-ecosystems-already-collapsing-154077" target="_blank" style="">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>
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