Black Rice Economical Way to Increase Consumption of Antioxidants

Black rice
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Health conscious consumers who hesitate at the price of fresh blueberries and blackberries, fruits renowned for high levels of healthful antioxidants, now have an economical alternative. It is black rice, one variety of which got the moniker “Forbidden Rice” in ancient China because nobles commandeered every grain for themselves and forbade the common people from eating it.

According to a study presented at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), “one spoonful of black rice bran contains more anthocyanin antioxidants than a spoonful of blueberries and better yet, black rice offers more fiber and vitamin E antioxidants, but less sugar.”

Like fruits, “black rice” is rich in anthocyanin antioxidants, substances that show promise for fighting heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. Food manufacturers could potentially use black rice bran or the bran extracts to boost the health value of breakfast cereals, beverages, cakes, cookies, and other foods, Xu and colleagues suggested.

Brown rice is the most widely produced rice variety worldwide. Rice millers remove only the outer husks, or “chaff,” from each rice grain to produce brown rice. If they process the rice further, removing the underlying nutrient rich “bran,” it becomes white rice. Xu noted that many consumers have heard that brown rice is more nutritious than white rice. The reason is that the bran of brown rice contains higher levels of gamma-tocotrienol, one of the vitamin E compounds, and gamma-oryzanol antioxidants, which are lipid-soluble antioxidants. Numerous studies showed that these antioxidants can reduce blood levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) — so called “bad” cholesterol — and may help fight heart disease. Xu and colleagues analyzed samples of black rice bran from rice grown in the southern United States. In addition, the lipid soluble antioxidants they found in black rice bran possess higher level of anthocyanins antioxidants, which are water-soluble antioxidants. Thus, black rice bran may be even healthier than brown rice bran, suggested Dr. Xu.

The scientists also showed that pigments in black rice bran extracts can produce a variety of different colors, ranging from pink to black, and may provide a healthier alternative to artificial food colorants that manufacturers now add to some foods and beverages. Several studies have linked some artificial colorants to cancer, behavioral problems in children, and other health problems.

Black rice is one of several black-colored heirloom plants producing rice variants such as Indonesian Black Rice, Forbidden Rice. High in nutritional value, black rice is rich in iron. Unlike other black rice from Asia, it is not glutinous or rough. This grain is high in fiber and has a deep, nutty taste. Black “forbidden rice” is so named because originally it was considered the Emperor’s rice and was literally forbidden for anyone else to eat it. It is a deep black color and turns deep purple when cooked. Its dark purple color is primarily due to its high anthocyanin content. It has a relatively high mineral content (including iron) and, like most rice, supplies several important amino acids.

In China, noodles made from black rice have recently begun being produced. At least one United States bread company has also begun producing “Chinese Black Rice” bread. It shares the deep tyrian color of cooked black rice.

Black rice is used mainly in Asia for food decoration, noodles, sushi, and pudding. Dr. Xu said that farmers are interested in growing black rice in Louisiana and that he would like to see people in the country embrace its use.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_rice
Elements4Health

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