The Newest "Healthiest" Food: Black Rice


senior member
Concord, NH
Theres an exotic "new" health food that nutrition experts are getting very enthusiastic about -- and my advice is, take notes on what they say! Its black rice -- yes, black -- and new research shows that it contains more antioxidants and valuable plant compounds than blueberries... and we all know how healthy those are.

Black rice itself is anything but new. In fact, in ancient China it was known as "Forbidden Rice" because peasants were forbidden from eating it since it was so rare.

Black rice is similar to brown rice in that both are whole grains, meaning that they are unprocessed -- after the rice hull (the inedible tough outer shell) is removed, these darker colors of rice both have a nutrient-rich layer of bran on their surface. This is what makes them more wholesome than highly processed white rice, from which virtually all nutrients have been removed.

I spoke with Zhimin Xu, PhD, associate professor in the department of food science at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center in Baton Rouge , who told me that the basis for saying that black rice is "healthier" than blueberries is that it is even richer in the health-promoting anthocyanin antioxidants than blueberries, but with less sugar and more fiber. The colorful anthocyanins that give the "black" layer of bran its rich color are the same types of pigments that make blueberries blue... raspberries red... and grapes purple.

Dr. Xu added that the antioxidants in black rice also have the benefit of being both water- and fat-soluble. "Vegetables and fruits, like blueberries, are rich in the water-soluble antioxidants (vitamin C), while other cereal brans contain predominantly fat-soluble antioxidants (such as vitamin E)," Dr. Xu explained. What makes black rice exceptional is that it contains a rich mix of both classes of antioxidants.

Where to Buy it

You may not be able to find black rice in your supermarket (though I bet that will change), but you can easily find it in specialty stores, including health-food stores and Asian groceries, as well as at markets such as Whole Foods. Black rice costs about the same as brown rice -- perhaps slightly more. One good brand is Lundberg Family Farms (, which uses "eco-friendly" farming to grow their "Black Japonica" rice and comes with a tempting stir-fry recipe on the package.

In Asian cooking, black rice often is mixed with white to create a pleasing visual presentation, and I suppose you could mix it with brown just as easily. Ill be trying that and various other ways of serving it, too, as I expect well be eating a lot of this attractive, delicious and very healthful rice.


Zhimin Xu, PhD, associate professor, department of food science at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center , Baton Rouge .


Senior Member
Black rice pudding, a l Balinese style, one of my favourite desserts. Yum.

Don't eat it much anymore, hard to find here, and too fattening.