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In Italy and China, black rice has historically been prized for its association with health and vitality. Italians call black rice riso Venere (Rice of Venus), as it was believed to have aphrodisiac properties1. In China, black rice was called ‘Forbidden rice’ or ‘The Emperor’s Rice’, as it was reserved for members of the Imperial Court2. Foodies worldwide are increasingly attracted to this novel grain, which gets its deep black colour from an abundance of antioxidants3.

In this article, we’ll explain what black rice is, and the health benefits associated with it. We’ll break down the nutritional profile of a bowl, advise on who should avoid it, and how to best prepare it.

What is black rice?

Black rice is a species of wild rice4 with a deep purple, nearly black, colour, due to its high antioxidant content5. Desserts are frequently made from black rice in South East Asia, as it is starchy, stickier, and has a nuttier flavour than most rice varieties. In the West, you’re more likely to find it as the base of a healthful poké or grain bowl than in a pudding.

Key benefits of black rice

Black rice is associated with a whole host of health benefits, including:

Antioxidant properties

Black rice contains more antioxidants than any other rice6. Antioxidants protect your body from the negative consequences of ageing, like age-related diseases, by reducing oxidative stress7.

Better heart health.

Diets rich in food with a high anthocyanin content, like black rice, are connected to fewer instances of cardiovascular disease8.

Eye health

Black rice contains powerful carotenoids9 which preserve eye health by protecting against harmful blue light10 and helping to reduce the risk of age-related blindness11.

The nutritional profile of black rice

An average, 100g portion of black rice contains12:
  • 356 calories
  • 89g of protein
  • 33g of fat
  • 2g of fibre
  • 4 mg of iron
Black rice also has a higher protein content than brown rice, which only contains 7g per 100g portion13.

Iron is essential for producing healthy blood cells. Black rice contains a fair amount of iron, which means hitting your daily recommended amount will be more manageable with this in your regular diet.

Who should avoid black rice

Black rice is naturally gluten-free14 and currently has no known side effects. The only reason you should avoid black rice is if you don’t like the flavour.

How best to prepare black rice

Make perfect black rice every time:

  1. Rinse the rice in water before cooking to remove excess starch, to enjoy a perfectly fluffy grain once prepared.
  2. After rinsing, lightly toast the rice in the pan for one minute. Then, add water, at a ratio of 1-part rice to 1.5-parts water.
  3. Bring the water to a boil on medium heat, and then put the lid on the pan.
  4. Check if the black rice has absorbed all the water after 25 minutes. Black rice takes between 25 to 35 minutes to cook. Taste for softness, and if grains are soft, drain excess water.
  5. Rest in pan for 5 minutes.
  6. Enjoy!

Last Updated: 12th October 2020