Is "Forbidden" Black Rice a "Superfood"?

James R. CoffeyStarred Page By James R. Coffey, 5th Sep 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Diet & Nutrition

Is black rice the "super food" nutritionists and scientists are claiming? Here's some pertinent information that may help you decide.

Fit for an Emperor

Most commonly known as the "forbidden rice" reserved for the Emperor of China, black rice is now replacing blueberries and walnuts at the top of the list of good-for-you "super-foods." Specifically recommended by researchers as an excellent source of a special variety of antioxidants known as anthocyanin antioxidants, many are suggesting black rice, said to have a deep, nutty taste, should become a cash crop for American farmers.

Anthocyanin antioxidants

According to research presented at the 240th national meeting of the American Cancer Society, just a spoonful of black rice bran contains more health promoting anthocyanin antioxidants (which is also found in red grapes, strawberries, red wine, red cabbage, red onion, and blood orange juice) than are found in a spoonful of blueberries, with less sugar, and more fiber and vitamin E antioxidants.

Anthocyanin antioxidants have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Why black?

Black rice gets its dark color from the presence of flavonoid pigments known as anthocyanins, plant based pigments with strong antioxidant properties.

Anthocyanins are the same pigments that give many dark red and purple berries such as blackberries, dark cherries, and raspberries their rich color and health benefits.

Anthyocyanins are being studied for their role in preventing a variety of chronic diseases including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Much of their health and curative benefits appear to stem from their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Anthocyanin antioxidants have been linked with a lower risk of heart disease, cancer and other Western diseases; such diseases are apparently associated with low intake of vegetables and high intake of sugar and meats in the West, according to previous studies.

As black rice contains more dietary fiber, and therefore the starch digestion rate is much slower (only 55 on the glycemic index compared to white at 87), black rice does not cause the dramatic fluctuations in blood sugar that white causes. Additionally, the potassium, magnesium and other minerals in black rice help control blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardio-cerebral vascular diseases. Therefore, individuals with diabetes and cardiovascular disease can be nursed back to health eating black rice as part of a healthy diet.

A partial comparison of nutritional values

Brown long grain rice (one cup):

  • Protein: 5.031 g.
  • Carbohydrates: 44.772 g.
  • Fiber: 3.510 g.
  • Calcium: 19.500 g.
  • Magnesium: 83.850 mg.
  • Potassium: 83.850 mg.
  • Iron: 0.819 mg.
  • Sodium: 9.750 mg.
  • Vitamin C: 0.00 mg.
  • Vitamin B6: 0.283 mg.
  • Vitamin B12: 0.00 mcg.
  • Vitamin E: 0.421 mg.

White long grain rice (one cup) par-boiled:

  • Protein: 4.008 g.
  • Carbohydrates: 43.278 g.
  • Fiber: 0.700 g.
  • Calcium: 33.250 mg.
  • Magnesium: 21.000 mg.
  • Potassium: 64.750 mg.
  • Iron: 0.350 mg.
  • Sodium: 5.259 mg.
  • Vitamin C: 0.000 mg.
  • Vitamin B6: 0.033 mg.
  • Vitamin B12: 0.000 mcg.
  • Vitamin E: 0.000 mg.

Black rice (one cup ):

  • Protein: 0-5 g. (depending on source)
  • Carbohydrates: 136.000 g.
  • Fiber: 8.000 g.
  • Calcium: 0 g.
  • Magnesium: 126.00 mg.
  • Potassium: 284.900 mg.
  • Iron: 1.638 mg.
  • Sodium:
  • Vitamin C: 0.000 mg.
  • Vitamin B6: 0.132 mg.
  • Vitamin B12: trace


Images via (berries) (rice)

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Antioxidant Rich Foods, Antioxidants, Black Rice, Brown Rice, White Rice

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author avatar James R. Coffey
I am founder and head writer for James R. Coffey Writing Services and Resource Center @ where I offer a variety of writing and research services including article composition, ghostwriting, editing...(more)

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author avatar Jerry Walch
6th Sep 2010 (#)

This was a very informative read. I have never seen Black Rice,

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author avatar James R. Coffey
6th Sep 2010 (#)

Guess maybe it really is forbidden!

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author avatar leftwriter
8th Sep 2010 (#)

I've never heard of black rice - thanks for writing this!

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author avatar James R. Coffey
8th Sep 2010 (#)

Yeah, I figured a lot of readers hadn't!


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author avatar siboiss
9th Sep 2010 (#)

The only rice that I know of is from my uncle "Ben". It's nice to know that we have alternatives though. Thanks!

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author avatar James R. Coffey
9th Sep 2010 (#)

I aim to inform (and sometimes entertain)!

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author avatar Misty
7th Dec 2011 (#)

Hi James, Thanks so much for the article.

Does black rice really contain so much more carbohydrates (: 136.000 g) than even white and brown rice?

Most sites that I've visited indicating that black rice contains the least carbohydrates for the same serving size for brown and white rice.

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author avatar Misty
7th Dec 2011 (#)

My apologies, James.

Some sites probably didn't have the facts about the carbohydrates . I've tried the black rice for the first time and like the taste of it. If black rice is so high in carbs, I am worried if black rice would help me gain weight much easier than white rice. Thanks.

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author avatar John
8th Aug 2012 (#)

I just bought come at Costco. I wanted to check out the glycemic index. I guess I made a good choice.

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author avatar Uomo Senzanome
2nd Mar 2013 (#)

I think there may be a typo in the carbohydrate listing for black rice, to whit, the 1 at the beginning is an error, the number should be 36, NOT 136. I just looked at the bags of black and brown rice I got from Costco recently. Both list1/4c serving sizes, but I imagine that is 1/4cup dry, which swells up to two or even three times that size when cooked. Dry measure is the only accurate way of comparing servings, since different varieties absorb differing amounts of water to produce varying cooked volumes.
Lundberg's organic short-grain brown rice lists 40g carbs in 1/4cup and Village Harvest Black Rice - Heirloom Chinese Rice - lists 36g carbs. They both list 3g fiber and 1g sugars; this black lists 5g protein, whereas the brown lists 3g protein.
Compare all of this to truRoots Organic quinoa: twice as much fat (3g rather than 1.5) per 1/4c serving than either rice, but more protein (6g)
The Andean pseudo-grain quinoa, like the quick-cooking legume, lentil, has all 8 essential amino acids, so it is a complete protein rather than rice, wheat or corn which should be paired with beans or other complementary proteins. Quinoa also has 31g carbs, 3g fiber, and 3g sugars. Slightly lower overall carbs than rice, slightly higher sugars).

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author avatar Uomo Senzanome
2nd Mar 2013 (#)

PS - the flavor of black rice is somewhat similar to the nuttiness I enjoy in Minnesota wild rice, with less of the insoluble fiber (chaff) that tends to characterize wild rice. I love wild rice (which is not actually rice) but its more expensive and those bits of hard chaff do get stuck in my teeth. I now usually mix black and brown 1/2 and 1/2; I am thinking of switching to 1/3 1/3 1/3 black & brown rice and quinoa soon.

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author avatar SilverChic
2nd Dec 2013 (#)

I've been on the Paleo/Primal diet for a couple of months now and have lost weight and gained a lot of energy and other benefits. I don't eat any rice or other grains. But today I was fixing a dish that I used to serve over black rice so I cooked some of the Lotus Forbidden Black Rice that I had in the pantry. After eating about 1/2 cup of it with lunch, I had a painful stomachache. Ginger tea is helping, but I learned I can't go back to eating any carbs except green vegetables without bad results. The black rice has a good flavor but it's not worth losing all the progress I've gained. I will keep the black rice in case we ever lose our food supply, but won't cook it otherwise.

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