By: Nutrition Expert- Vidula Kozarekar, Mumbai.
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Rice is the staple food for most of the people in different countries. Black rice is one kind of rice that is getting more popular recently and is consumed as functional food due to the usefulness to health. Black rice is also known as purple rice, forbidden rice, heaven rice, imperial rice, king’s rice and prized rice (1).
Black rice contains higher levels of proteins, vitamins and minerals than common white rice. Black rice contains essential amino acids like lysine, tryptophan; vitamins such as vitamin B1, vitamin B2, folic acid; and it is a good source of minerals including iron, zinc, calcium, phosphorus and selenium. It contains the highest amount of antioxidants, protein and dietary fibre of all rice varieties, besides it has phenolics, flavonoids, and anthocyanins (2).
- Antioxidant Properties
Antioxidants are first line of defence against free radical damage, and are critical for maintaining optimum health and wellbeing. Black rice bran has more anthocyanin antioxidants. It contains more fibre and vitamin E (another essential antioxidant) and less sugar. Antioxidants are able to neutralize free radicals, and can help to prevent oxidative damage. Studies show that antioxidant supplementation can exert a preventive effect against the development of serious conditions like cancer, and may improve overall health (3).
- Anti-inflammatory Properties
Systemic inflammation is considered a key contributor to a number of diseases and illnesses prevalent in society today. This includes arthritis and other joint issues, asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and even cancer. Black rice bran has the capacity to reduce inflammation at a cellular level. This results in a reduction in the amount of systemic inflammation within the body, improving cell health, and acting as a therapeutic agent for the treatment of inflammatory disease and illness (4).
- Weight Management
Black rice has an extremely high fibre content, which can promote gut health, and aid with digestive processes. Furthermore, as fibre is digested slowly (and subsequently stays in our stomach longer), it can reduce feeling of hunger, and results reduction in daily energy intake. This reduction in energy intake leads to weight loss (5).
- Improves Heart Health
Black rice has also been demonstrated to reduce plaque build-up within arteries. Plaque build-up within the arteries can cause the wall of those arteries to harden and become blocked. This negatively affects the function of those arteries, while also placing an increased demand on the heart, causing a significant rise in blood pressure. This is considered a key risk factor to both heart attacks and strokes. By reducing plaque build-up in the arteries, black rice can directly reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular and heart disease, while also improving heart health and function (6).
- Enhance Liver Health
The inclusion of black rice into the diet has shown to reduce risk factors that lead to fatty liver disease, suggesting its direct influence on liver health. The antioxidant properties of black rice can also help to detoxify liver and improve liver function. Black rice increased fatty acid metabolism and helped to reduce the risk of elevated blood sugar levels and high cholesterol. There was also a lower risk of developing liver disease (7).
- Management of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
Anthocyanins are flavonoids that occur naturally in plants and are responsible for their colour. Studies with cell lines and animal models and clinical trials in humans suggest that anthocyanins in black rice exhibit Antidiabetic properties. Published data suggest that anthocyanins may lower blood glucose by improving insulin resistance, protecting β cells, increasing secretion of insulin and reducing digestion of sugars in the small intestine (8).
- Enhances Brain Function
The antioxidant effect of anthocyanins also has a beneficial effect on improving brain function. This means that black rice can help to improve memory impairment and prevent or reduce the risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and depression. Clinical studies also showed that anthocyanins helped to improve learning capacity and reduce symptoms of depression. By adding black rice in the diet, help to boost memory and prevent premature cognitive aging (9).
Why is Black Rice black?
Black rice gets its dark colour from the antioxidant called anthocyanin. It’s the same nutrient that is found in many purple-coloured fruits and vegetables such as blueberries and eggplant.
Some interesting Black Rice recipes:
Black rice is an excellent alternative to white and brown rice, due to its nutrient density, high fibre content, and rich antioxidant content. Currently, black rice is regarded as a nutraceutical and functional food because beyond supply of nutrients it involves in the prevention and control of diseases.