Antioxidants on a budget: Black Rice


Blueberries and blackberries have topped the charts for their antioxidant qualities, but hovering at $5 a  pound, they have to scream “Buy Me” a little louder than most produce on the farm stand. Now foodies have a healthy and inexpensive alternative: Black rice.

At the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) Zhimin Xu, Associate Professor at the Department of Food Science at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center in Baton Rouge, La., reported: “Just a spoonful of black rice bran contains more health-promoting anthocyanin antioxidants than are found in a spoonful of blueberries, but with less sugar and more fiber and vitamin E antioxidants.”

Black rice, like many richly colored fruit, contains anthocyanin antioxidants, which have been shown to stave off heart disease and some cancers. When the outer husks of black rice are removed, it becomes brown rice. When the underlying bran from brown rice is removed, the rice becomes white.

The bran of brown rice contains high levels of the vitamin E compound gamma-tocotrienol as well as gamma-oryzanol antioxidants. Numerous studies have shown that these antioxidants can reduce levels of LDLs (bad cholesterol).

According to an American Chemical Society press release, Xu and colleagues believe food manufacturers could potentially use black rice bran or the bran extracts, to boost the health value of breakfast cereals, beverages, baked goods, and and more.

Xu said: “If berries are used to boost health, why not black rice and black rice bran?”

Rice facts from the USA Rice Federation:

  • Rice is the primary dietary staple for more than half of the world’s population.
  • September is National Rice Month to celebrate the harvest of rice.
  • More than 20 billion pounds of rice is produced each year by farmers in Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Texas, Missouri and Mississippi.
  • The U.S. produces varieties of short, medium and long grain rice, as well as specialty rices including jasmine, basmati, arborio, red aromatic and black japonica, among others.
  • 85% of the rice consumed in the U.S. is grown here.
  • U.S. rice farmers produce less than 2% of the world’s annual rice supply, but are the world’s 3rd largest rice exporter.
  • Americans consume about 25 pounds of rice per year.
  • There are approximately 15,000 rice producers in the United States.
  • The Japanese word for cooked rice is the same as the word for meal.
  • In India, rice is the first food a new bride offers her husband.  It is also the first food offered a newborn. There is a saying that grains of rice should be like two brothers – close, but not stuck together.
  • Instead of saying “How are you?” as a typical greeting, the Chinese ask “Have you had your rice today?”

Photo credit: Photo by FotoosVanRobin on Flickr, licensed for commercial use under Creative Commons.