Black rice was once so rare—not to mention nutritious and delicious—that only Chinese emperors were allowed to enjoy it. That’s according to ancient Chinese legend, anyway.
Although it’s still relatively uncommon in the U.S., certainly compared to its white and brown cousins, you can now find black rice at many supermarkets if you look hard enough. Whole Foods Markets now carries it, and restaurants have begun to add it to the menu, according to a story on Health.com.
Black rice is loaded with antioxidant-rich bran, found in the outer layer that gets remove during the milling process to make white rice. Only black rice bran has the antioxidants called anthocyanins, the purple and reddish pigments also found in the popular “superfoods” blueberries, grapes and açai berries.
Anthocyanins have been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease and cancer, improvements in memory, and other health benefits.
One spoonful of black rice bran—or 10 spoonfuls of cooked black rice—contains the same amount of this powerful antioxidant as a spoonful of fresh blueberries according to a new study announced this spring.
The taste? Caryl Levine, co-owner of California-based Lotus Foods describes black rice as having an “up-front nutty taste, and almost a hint of fruit or floral at the finish. It’s very complex,” she says. Lotus was the first company to bring black rice to the U.S. market three years ago.
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