In recent years, a humble grain with a remarkable history has emerged: black rice, also known as “forbidden rice”.
Originating in ancient China, where it was revered as traditional medicine, black rice has transcended borders and is now embraced worldwide. The current buzz around this enigmatic grain stems from its extraordinary health benefits, captivating taste, and stunning black-blue hue.
What does black rice taste like?
The best part about black rice? It’s delicious! It contains a unique and delightful taste that sets it apart from other rice varieties. Its flavour profile is often described as nutty, slightly sweet and earthy, providing a pleasant and distinctive culinary experience.
When cooked, black rice retains a pleasing chewy texture, adding depth and richness to a variety of dishes. Its striking black-blue hue makes it visually appealing, enhancing the presentation of meals and creating an exciting contrast when paired with other colourful ingredients.
Due to its delicious taste and versatility, black rice can be used in a wide range of recipes. It complements both savoury and sweet dishes, making it a favourite in salads, grain bowls, stir-fries, sushi, porridge, and even desserts like rice puddings and cakes.
Let’s delve into the reasons behind the growing popularity of black rice and explore the advantages it offers.
The health benefits of black rice
What sets black rice apart and makes it the centre of attention is its vibrant hue, which is attributed to anthocyanins, potent antioxidant pigments also found in blueberries. Nutritional therapist Dr Elenia Kolokotronis explains that antioxidants are crucial in protecting our cells from the damage caused by free radicals, safeguarding our health against cell deterioration and oxidative stress.
“Black rice is also an incredible source of fibre or roughage, vital for keeping our digestive system healthy. It is a natural colon cleanser by allowing stools to pass easily without discomfort or constipation,” she adds.
The list of benefits black rice offers is impressive, making it a superfood revered by health enthusiasts and nutritionists alike. Here are some of its noteworthy advantages:
- Allergen-free: Unlike many other grains and wholegrain products like wheat, black rice is gluten-free, making it an excellent choice for those with coeliac disease.
- Enhances eye health: Black rice boasts carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which play a vital role in protecting our eyes, particularly the retinas, from harmful UV radiation and the growth of cancerous cells.
- Supports diabetes management: With a low glycaemic index (GI) score of 42.3 and high fibre content, black rice helps stabilise blood sugar levels and enhances the body’s ability to react to glucose and insulin.
- Protects against disease: Abundant in anthocyanins, black rice offers protection against cardiovascular diseases and has even shown potential in reducing the risk of colorectal cancer.
- Nutrient-rich: Packed with essential nutrients such as vitamin E, calcium and potassium, black rice is a boon for overall health.
- Boosts heart health: Studies suggest that anthocyanins in black rice may contribute to lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels, promoting heart health.
- Aids in weight loss: Rich in filling protein and fibre, black rice can keep hunger at bay, aid in weight management, and reduce the risk of obesity.
- Natural detoxifier: The phytonutrients found in black rice assist the body in eliminating harmful toxins caused by free radicals.
According to Dr Kolokotronis, the nutritional composition of black rice unveils an impressive array of amino acids, including essential and non-essential ones. Additionally, it is rich in fatty acids, phenolic compounds, flavonoids, and an assortment of vital nutrients such as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, phosphorus, iron, potassium, zinc and copper.
“While black rice comes with many health and taste benefits, it is important to consider its preparation – lightly steam it or boil it,” she suggests. “This will give the maximum benefits.”
The side effects of eating black rice
While black rice poses minimal side effects, it’s essential to remain mindful of a few considerations:
- Arsenic concern: Like any other rice, black rice can absorb arsenic from the soil, making thorough cooking a crucial step before consumption.
- Digestive sensitivity: Excessive consumption may lead to bloating, gas or an upset stomach, although no serious side effects have been documented.
“Black rice, though not as widespread as white rice, undoubtedly packs a punch with its exceptional antioxidant potential and protein content, even surpassing brown rice. Its incorporation into your daily diet can contribute to improved eyesight and heart health,” Dr Kolokotronis concludes. Readily available in markets and grocery stores, this grain is a delectable and healthy switch that poses no drastic side effects. The current buzz around black rice speaks volumes about its promise as a nutritional treasure waiting to be fully embraced.
So why not embark on a culinary adventure with this captivating grain and savour the taste and colour that it brings?
Start by checking out this black rice and black bean recipe.