Why Black Rice is known as ‘The Forbidden Rice’?
Black rice varieties, such as Indonesian black rice and Thai jasmine black rice, have a deep black color that often transitions to purple when cooked. This type is sometimes referred to as forbidden rice or Emperor’s rice as it’s said to have been reserved for royalty in ancient China.
In China, black rice was exclusively used for the consumption of royal families, which is why it was known as Emperor’s rice. Black rice continued to be cultivated but only for the elite classes, in limited quantities and under strict surveillance, as the authorities took charge of every single grain and common folk were banned from eating it due to its superior quality. Black rice then became a property for the royalty and the wealthy only in Ancient China.
The common folk were prohibited from growing or consuming it, and since then it earned its much renowned label – the forbidden rice.
Black rice is no longer forbidden, but it is cultivated in relatively small amounts, compared to other types of rice varieties. Black Rice which is also known as Purple rice and Asian rice hails from the Oryza Sativa species. Some variants of this rice species are glutinous in texture. Black rice is majorly cultivated in Asian countries like China, Indonesia, Myanmar and India among others. In India, it is majorly grown in the eastern region, and is popularly known as Chak-hao in Manipur.
The whole grain rice also packs numerous health benefits. It is loaded with anti-oxidants especially anthocyanin which is good for diabetics, heart patients. It is also great for skin and hair due to its Vitamin E content. It is also loaded with fibre so it does not spike blood sugar levels. It is also rich in iron and a great source of plant-based protein; hence it is a good option for vegetarians. Black rice also contains lots of fiber that is good for maintaining our digestive health. Black rice is low in calories, which makes it great for people who want to lose weight without giving up rice. It is also a rich source of phytonutrients that are essential for protecting us from a number of diseases and maintaining the healthy functioning of our brain.
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Black Rice Is Rich in Antioxidants
Antioxidants are compounds that protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, which contribute to a condition known as oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has been associated with the progression of chronic conditions, such as heart disease, certain cancers, and mental decline.
But what makes it so unique is its high level of anthocyanin content, which has powerful antioxidant property that helps to reduce chronic inflammation. Black rice contains pigments called anthocyanin that is responsible for its dark coloring. These are powerful antioxidants that fight against cancer and heart disease, and also fight against the free radicals which can cause variety of diseases like diabetes and even cancer.
The outermost layer of the grain i.e the bran and the hull, contains great amounts of the antioxidant-anthocyanin. In fact the amount of anthocyanin contained in black rice is higher than any other grain, including brown rice, red rice, red quinoa, or other colored whole grain varieties.
Since black rice doesn’t undergo any refining or processing, it is able to retain its antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It also contains a powerful antioxidant – Vitamin E, which is beneficial in maintaining eye, skin, and immune health.
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Whole grain black rice has its bran intact, which is a rich in dietary fiber. Since fiber takes longer to digest, it makes sure that the sugar in the grain is absorbed over a longer period, maintaining normal blood sugar levels. Thus, it helps to prevent insulin levels from spiking up and can help to prevent type 2 diabetes. (Also read –> Bitter Melon For Diabetes)
Aids Healthy Brain Function
Antioxidants like anthocyanin that are found in black rice can help to reduce oxidative stress and maintain healthy brain functioning.
Promote Heart Health
Anthocyanin found in black rice, reduces the bad (LDL) cholesterol, which is a common contributor to cardiovascular diseases and can actively protect from the development of atheroschlerosis (hardening of the arteries) as well. It has been found to protect cardiovascular health by not only maintaining normal blood pressure but also by reducing lipid levels, regulating body weight, improving glucose metabolism, and reducing chronic inflammation. (Also read –> Can Sesame Seeds Help To Control Your Cholesterol Levels?)
Black Rice Improves Digestive Health
Black rice is a rich source of dietary fiber, which helps in regular bowel movements and prevents bloating and constipation. It can help to treat a number of other gastrointestinal disorders like gastroesophageal reflux disease, ulcer, diverticulitis, constipation, and hemorrhoids. (Also read –> Natural Ways To Combat Acid Reflux)
Aids in weight loss
Black rice is rich in dietary fibre, that not only gives you the feeling of being full, thus preventing overeating; and can also help to prevent insulin resistance, which is often linked to the risk of developing diabetes and obesity. (Also read –> Is Banana or Plantain Stem juice Healthy?)
May Protect From Cancer
Research shows that black rice has the highest antioxidant activity of all the varieties, making it a nutritious choice. Black rice is particularly rich in anthocyanins, a group of flavonoid plant pigments that have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Anthocyanins have been shown to have potent anticancer properties as well. Studies suggest that higher consumption of anthocyanin-rich foods is associated with a lower risk of certain cancers, including colorectal cancer and may help to suppress the growth and spread of human breast cancer cells. (Also read–> Breast Cancer – Superfoods That Prevent The Risk)
Black Rice Is Naturally Gluten-Free
Black rice is completely free of gluten. So, people who are sensitive to gluten or are suffering from Celiac Disease, can add black rice to their daily diet to fulfill their daily requirement of protein and fiber.