Antioxidants are compounds that protect your cells against oxidative stress caused by molecules known as free radicals (9Trusted Source).
They’re important, as oxidative stress has been associated with an increased risk of several chronic conditions, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and certain forms of cancer (9Trusted Source).
Despite being less popular than other rice varieties, research shows that black rice has the highest overall antioxidant capacity and activity (10Trusted Source).
In fact, in addition to anthocyanin, black rice has been found to contain over 23 plant compounds with antioxidant properties, including several types of flavonoids and carotenoids (8Trusted Source).
Therefore, adding black rice to your diet can be an easy way to incorporate more disease-protecting antioxidants into your diet.
SummaryResearch shows that black rice contains over 23 types of antioxidants and has the highest antioxidant activity of all rice varieties.
3. Contains the plant compound anthocyanin
Anthocyanins are a group of flavonoid plant pigments that are responsible for the purple color of black rice, as well as several other plant based foods like blueberries and purple sweet potatoes (2Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).
SummaryAnthocyanin is a pigment that’s responsible for the black-purple color of forbidden rice. It’s also been found to have potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer effects.
4. May boost heart health
Research on black rice’s effects on heart health is limited. However, many of its antioxidants have been shown to help protect against heart disease.
Flavonoids like those found in black rice have been associated with a decreased risk of developing and dying from heart disease (17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source).
Additionally, early research in animals and humans suggests that anthocyanins may help improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels (13Trusted Source).
One study in 120 adults with high cholesterol levels found that taking two 80-mg anthocyanin capsules per day for 12 weeks resulted in significantly improved HDL (good) cholesterol levels and significantly reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol levels (19Trusted Source).
Another study analyzing the effects of a high cholesterol diet on plaque accumulation in rabbits found that adding black rice to the high cholesterol diet resulted in 50% less plaque buildup, compared with diets containing white rice (20Trusted Source).
While this study suggests that eating black rice may protect against heart disease, these results have not been observed in humans.
SummaryBlack rice contains antioxidants that have been shown to help protect against heart disease. However, more research is needed to understand black rice’s effects on heart disease.
Finally, a 1-week study in mice found that consuming anthocyanin extract from black rice resulted in significantly less retinal damage when animals were exposed to fluorescent lights. Still, these findings have not been replicated in humans (27Trusted Source).
SummaryBlack rice contains the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which have been shown to protect your retina from potentially damaging free radicals. While anthocyanins may also protect eye health, research in humans is currently lacking.
7. Naturally gluten-free
Gluten is a type of protein found in cereal grains, such as wheat, barley, and rye.
One 12-week study found that giving mice with obesity on a high fat diet anthocyanins from black rice resulted in a 9.6% reduction in body weight. However, these results have not been replicated in humans (21Trusted Source).
While research on black rice’s role in weight loss in humans is limited, it has been found to help reduce weight when combined with brown rice.
In a 6-week study in 40 women with excess weight, those who ate a mix of brown and black rice up to 3 times per day on a calorie-restricted diet lost significantly more body weight and body fat than those eating white rice (31Trusted Source).
SummaryGiven that black rice is a good source of protein and fiber, it may aid weight loss. Also, while animal studies have suggested that anthocyanins may have benefits for weight loss, more research in humans is needed.
9–10. Other potential benefits
Black rice may also offer other potential benefits, including:
May decrease your risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). A study in mice found that adding black rice to a high fat diet significantly reduced fat accumulation in the liver (34Trusted Source).
SummaryWhile more research is needed, black rice may help lower blood sugar levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes and reduce the risk of NAFLD.
11. Easy to cook and prepare
Cooking black rice is easy and similar to cooking other forms of rice.
To prepare it, simply combine rice and water or stock in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Once boiling, cover it and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the rice for 30–35 minutes, or until it’s tender, chewy, and all the liquid has been absorbed.
Remove the pan from the heat and let the rice sit for 5 minutes before removing the lid. Use a fork to help fluff the rice before serving.
Unless specified otherwise on the package, for every 1 cup (180 grams) of uncooked black rice, use 2 1/4 cups (295 ml) of water or stock.
To keep the rice from becoming gummy when cooking, it’s recommended to rinse the rice under cool water before cooking to remove some of the extra starch on the surface.
Once the rice is ready, you can use it in any dish in which you would use brown rice, such as in a grain bowl, stir-fry, salad, or rice pudding.
SummaryBlack rice is prepared similarly to other types of rice and can be added to a variety of savory and sweet dishes.
The bottom line
While not as common as other types of rice, black rice is the highest in antioxidant activity and contains more protein than brown rice.
As such, eating it may offer several health benefits, including boosting eye and heart health, protecting against certain forms of cancer, and aiding weight loss.
Black rice is more than just a nutritious grain. When cooked, its deep purple color can turn even the most basic meal into a visually stunning dish.
If you want to try black rice and can’t find it locally, shop for it