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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.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Tom Duszynski
The coronavirus is certainly scary, but despite the constant reporting on total cases and a climbing death toll, the reality is that the vast majority of people who come down with COVID-19 survive it. Just as the number of cases grows, so does another number: those who have recovered.
In mid-March, the number of patients in the U.S. who had officially recovered from the virus was close to zero. That number is now in the tens of thousands and is climbing every day. But recovering from COVID-19 is more complicated than simply feeling better. Recovery involves biology, epidemiology and a little bit of bureaucracy too.
How does your body fight off COVID-19?<p>Once a person is exposed the coronavirus, the body starts producing <a href="https://www.mblintl.com/products/what-are-antibodies-mbli/" target="_blank">proteins called antibodies to fight the infection</a>. As these <a href="https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/27/serological-tests-reveal-immune-coronavirus/" target="_blank">antibodies start to successfully contain the virus</a> and keep it from replicating in the body, symptoms usually begin to lessen and you start to feel better. Eventually, if all goes well, your immune system will completely destroy all of the virus in your system. A person who was infected with and survived a virus with no long-term health effects or disabilities has "recovered."</p><p>On average, a person who is infected with SARS-CoV-2 will feel ill for about seven days from the onset of symptoms. Even after symptoms disappear, there still may be small amounts of the virus in a patient's system, and they should stay <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html" target="_blank">isolated for an additional three days</a> to ensure they have truly <a href="https://health.usnews.com/conditions/articles/coronavirus-recovery-what-to-know" target="_blank">recovered and are no longer infectious</a>.</p>
What about immunity?<p>In general, once you have recovered from a viral infection, your body will keep cells called lymphocytes in your system. These cells "remember" viruses they've previously seen and can react quickly to fight them off again. If you are exposed to a virus you have already had, your antibodies will likely stop the virus before it starts causing symptoms. <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.5114%2Fceji.2018.77390" target="_blank">You become immune</a>. This is the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK27158/" target="_blank">principle behind many vaccines</a>.</p><p>Unfortunately, immunity isn't perfect. For many viruses, like mumps, immunity can wane over time, leaving you <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160421145747.htm" target="_blank">susceptible to the virus in the future</a>. This is why you need to get revaccinated – those "booster shots" – occasionally: to prompt your immune system to make more antibodies and memory cells.</p><p>Since this coronavirus is so new, scientists still don't know whether people who recover from COVID-19 are <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/faq.html" target="_blank">immune to future infections of the virus</a>. Doctors are finding antibodies in ill and recovered patients, and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/clinical-guidance-management-patients.html" target="_blank">that indicates the development of immunity</a>. But the question remains how long that immunity will last. Other coronaviruses like <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/jmv.25685" target="_blank">SARS and MERS produce an immune response</a> that will protect a person at least for a short time. I would suspect the same is true of SARS-CoV-2, but the research simply hasn't been done yet to say so definitively.</p>
Why have so few people officially recovered in the US?<p>This is a dangerous virus, so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is being extremely careful when deciding what it means to recover from COVID-19. Both medical and testing criteria must be met before a person is <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/disposition-in-home-patients.html" target="_blank">officially declared recovered</a>.</p><p>Medically, a person must be fever-free without fever-reducing medications for three consecutive days. They must show an improvement in their other symptoms, including reduced coughing and shortness of breath. And it must be at least seven full days <a href="https://health.usnews.com/conditions/articles/coronavirus-recovery-what-to-know" target="_blank">since the symptoms began</a>.</p><p>In addition to those requirements, the CDC guidelines say that a person must test negative for the coronavirus twice, with the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/care-for-someone.html" target="_blank">tests taken at least 24 hours apart</a>.</p><p>Only then, if both the symptom and testing conditions are met, is a person officially considered recovered by the CDC.</p><p>This second testing requirement is likely why there were so few official recovered cases in the U.S. until late March. Initially, there was a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/18/health/coronavirus-test-shortages-face-masks-swabs.html" target="_blank">massive shortage of testing in the U.S.</a> So while many people were certainly recovering over the last few weeks, this could not be officially confirmed. As the country enters the height of the pandemic in the coming weeks, focus is still on <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/hcp/clinical-criteria.html" target="_blank">testing those who are infected</a>, not those who have likely recovered.</p><p>Many more people are being tested now that states and private companies have begun <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/testing-in-us.html" target="_blank">producing and distributing tests</a>. As <a href="https://www.dispatch.com/news/20200406/coronavirus-in-ohio-from-its-rocky-start-testing-for-covid-19-slowly-ramping-up" target="_blank">the number of available tests increases</a> and the pandemic eventually slows in the country, more testing will be available for those who have appeared to recover. As people who have already recovered are tested, the appearance of any new infections will help researchers learn <a href="https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/24/we-need-smart-coronavirus-testing-not-just-more-testing/" target="_blank">how long immunity can be expected to last</a>.</p>
Once a person has recovered, what can they do?<p>Knowing whether or not people are immune to COVID-19 after they recover is going to determine what individuals, communities and society at large can do going forward. If scientists can show that recovered patients are immune to the coronavirus, then a person who has recovered could in theory <a href="https://www.vox.com/2020/3/30/21186822/immunity-to-covid-19-test-coronavirus-rt-pcr-antibody" target="_blank">help support the health care system</a> by caring for those who are infected.</p><p>Once communities pass the peak of the epidemic, the number of new infections will decline, while the number of <a href="https://www.newsweek.com/china-says-passed-peak-coronavirus-epidemic-covid-19-1491863" target="_blank">recovered people will increase</a>. As these trends continue, the risk of transmission will fall. Once the risk of transmission has fallen enough, community-level isolation and social distancing orders will begin to relax and businesses will start to reopen. Based on what other countries have gone through, it will be <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00154-w" target="_blank">months until the risk of transmission is low</a> in the U.S.</p><p>But before any of this can happen, the U.S. and the world need to make it through the peak of this pandemic. Social distancing works to slow the spread of infectious diseases and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/what-you-can-do.html" target="_blank">is working for COVID-19</a>. Many people will <a href="https://www.yalemedicine.org/stories/2019-novel-coronavirus/" target="_blank">need medical help to recover</a>, and social distancing will slow this virus down and give people the best chance to do so.</p>
By Elizabeth Claire Alberts
The future for the world's oceans often looks grim. Fisheries are set to collapse by 2048, according to one study, and 8 million tons of plastic pollute the ocean every year, causing considerable damage to delicate marine ecosystems. Yet a new study in Nature offers an alternative, and more optimistic view on the ocean's future: it asserts that the entire marine environment could be substantially rebuilt by 2050, if humanity is able to step up to the challenge.
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By Zulfikar Abbany
Bread has been a source of basic nutrition for centuries, the holy trinity being wheat, maize and rice. It has also been the reason for a lot of innovation in science and technology, from millstones to microbiological investigations into a family of single-cell fungi called Saccharomyces.
Chemical leavening<p>If you like a little heft in your loaf, you will need a leavening agent.</p><p>For those short on time, you can use baking soda. That's a chemical compound of sodium bicarbonate mixed with potassium bitartrate, or cream of tartar.</p><p>Soda breads have their traditions in parts of eastern and central Europe, and in Ireland and Scotland, with Melrose loaves and "farls."</p><p>They can taste a bit bland, though, and are often considered only as an emergency solution on Sundays. No disrespect intended: They taste just fine fresh from the oven.</p><p>Whether it's chemical or more "natural," leavening relies largely on the production of carbon dioxide.</p><p>When you mix an acid, such as vinegar, buttermilk, yogurt or apple cider, with an alkaline compound like baking soda, you get CO2. That CO2 creates bubbles, which in turn capture steam in the oven and allow a bread to rise.</p><p><span></span>But it's better with yeast. Tastes better, too. It just takes more time. </p>
What is yeast?<p>There are yeasts all around us — on grains, in the air, in biofuels. It even lives inside us, but that's not always a good thing.</p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1090575/pdf/1471-2334-5-22.pdf" target="_blank">Candida yeast</a> can cause infections of the skin, feet, mouth, penis or vagina if it builds up too much in the body.</p><p>One of the most common yeasts, however, is <em>Saccharomyces cerevisiae</em>. That's <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/an-early-beer-archaeologists-tap-ground-at-worlds-oldest-brewery/a-45480731" target="_blank">"brewer's"</a> or "baker's" yeast.</p><p>You can get fresh baker's yeast, often in 42-gram (1.48-ounce) cubes, or as dried yeast (quick action or active, which requires rehydration) in a sachet of 7 grams.</p><p>There's little difference: One is compressed and the other is dehydrated and granulated. But they do the same thing, essentially. </p><p>Some commercial yeast producers add molasses and other nutrients. But natural yeast has plenty of useful nutrients in it anyway, including B group vitamins, so who knows whether it's good or necessary to add them. </p>
How does yeast work?<p>When you mix flour, yeast and water, you set off a veritable chain reaction. Enzymes in the wheat convert starch into sugar. And the yeast creates enzymes of its own to convert those sugars into a form it can absorb.</p><p>The yeast "feeds" on the sugars to create carbon dioxide and alcohol. The yeast burps and farts, releasing gases into the mix, and that creates bubbles to trap CO2. </p><p>It's a vital fermentation process that breaks down the gluten in the flour and helps make your bread more digestible.</p><p>The yeast cells split and reproduce, generating lactic and carbonic acid, raising the temperature and ultimately adding flavor to the mix.</p><p>The longer you leave the yeast to do its thing, the better for your bread. Time is more important than the amount of yeast. </p><p>In fact, that's an enduring question — how much yeast? I'll use 20 grams fresh yeast for 500 grams of flour. Others say that's enough yeast for 1 kilo. If you are converting a dry-yeast recipe to fresh yeast, some bakers advise tripling the weight. So, if a sachet of dried yeast is 7 grams, your fresh yeast is 21 grams.</p><p><span></span>But that also depends on the flours you are using, temperatures in the bowl and the room, and a host of other things. You'll just have to experiment and see. No number of books (and I've read a stack on bread) will help as much as trial and error.</p>
Wild yeast: Sourdough<p>So, good bread needs time. If you have a lot of time, why not move it up a notch and grow wild yeast — a sourdough starter — in your own home?</p><p>A sourdough starter is not to be mistaken (as it often is) for the leaven, or "mother," "sponge," or <em>levain</em>. That's more a second stage, a descendant of the starter. You take a scoop from your starter and add it to another flour and water mixture when you prepare the dough for a new loaf. </p><p>The sourdough process utilizes yeasts naturally present in flour and … yet more time. A longer fermentation process allows a richer lactic acid bacteria <em>lactobacilli</em> or LAB to evolve, and that can be healthy for your gut microbiome.</p><p>It's simple enough to start a sourdough starter. All you need is flour, warm water and time.</p><p>Some suggest equal measures of whole-grain flour and water at 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit), some say room temperature — just don't let the water exceed 40 C or the yeasts will die. Some suggest two parts flour to three parts water. But it's up to you whether you want a drier or wetter starter. You will know only through experimentation. </p><p>Some say you should filter tap water to remove chemicals like fluoride and avoid using water that's boiled and then cooled. Others say that really doesn't matter.</p><p>The main thing is, keep it clean and give it time. Days, weeks, months and years.</p>
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