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                 Healthy Black Rice

According to ancient Chinese legend, black rice was so rare, tasty, and nutritious that only the emperors were allowed to eat it.

Nowadays, black rice is available but is still relatively rare. Nutritionists and researchers have identified the nutritional values of black rice in addition to its distinctive flavor.

If you’ve never heard of black rice, much less seen it, the dark-hued grain is now available at supermarkets, such as Whole Foods and appears to be gaining a foothold in kitchens and restaurants in the U.S.

Like brown rice, black rice is full of antioxidant-rich bran, which is found in the outer layer that gets removed during the milling process to make white rice. This is one of the reasons why you should not choose white rice.  Black rice is even better than brown rice because only black rice-bran contains the antioxidants known as anthocyanins, which are purple and reddish pigments -- also found in blueberries, grapes, and acai -- that have been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease and cancer, improvements in memory, and other health benefits. In addition, Some antioxidants in black (and brown) rice are fat-soluble, while anthocyanins are water-soluble and can therefore reach different areas of the body.

According to a study at the American Chemical Society, one spoonful of black-rice bran -- or 10 spoonfuls of cooked black rice -- contains the same amount of anthocyanin as a spoonful of fresh blueberries.

“I think the black-rice bran has an advantage over blueberries, because blueberries still contain a high level of sugar,” says the lead researcher, Zhimin Xu, Ph.D., an associate professor at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center.

Because the health benefits of black rice lie in the bran, it’s important to choose whole-grain varieties when shopping. As with brown rice, you should look for “whole black rice” at the top of the ingredients list.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau