Black Rice: The Health Benefits of "Forbidden Rice"

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The black rice (not the glutinous black rice) also known as "forbidden rice" is a range of rice type. It has an interesting history.

Once upon a time when China was ruled by an emperor, black rice was only allowed to be consumed by emperor due to its high nutritional value. This is how it got its name "forbidden rice" because it is only reserved to serve the emperor, and it was forbidden elsewhere. Due to the restricted demand, this "forbidden rice" is only planted in very low amounts. With the popularity of white rice varieties, black rice has nearly disappeared at one point.

Although it is now available for everyone to consume, the supply is still relatively low, in comparison to white rice and brown rice.

The Health Benefits of "Forbidden Rice"

You should be wondering what exactly is this "forbidden rice".  Here are some facts about it.

  • Apart from the name of "forbidden rice", it is also called "emperor rice" or "fortune rice"
  • It is a medium grain rice with nutty flavor and whole grain texture
  • It is black color and it turns dark purple (exposing its true color) when it cooked
  • Popular in China, Thailand and Indonesia
  • Used for making desserts and porridge
  • It is high in antioxidants, fiber, iron, vitamin E and minerals

The Health Benefits from Western Study and Traditional Chinese Medicine Approach

In western study

  • Antioxidant value: The black pigmented rice husk has high antioxidant value - it helps to eliminate body waste and fight against the free radicals. The antioxidant value appeared to be higher than blueberry.
  • Anti-inflammatory value: It is also a well known anti-inflammatory food. It helps to cut down the general infection and illness.
  • Heart attack prevention: It has large amount of anthocyanins which can help to prevent the build up of plaques in the arteries, which is the root cause of heart attack. 
  • Control Cholestrol level: Study reveals that Anthocyanins is more capable in controlling cholestrol level.

In traditional chinese medicine approach

  • Fight against grey hair: With frequent consumption, it can keep one's hair natural color and shiny.
  • Blood tonic: It can help to keep your blood in good health due to its high value in iron. It also improve one's qi (energy).
  • Good for elderly people: It increases the elderly's appetite and it aids in treatment of digestive disorder that elderly are prone too.
  • Diabetic prevention
  • In general, it is good for kidney, liver and stomach.

Comparison of Nutritional Value

There are different varieties of rice, with white rice being the most common one. Brown rice is white rice before it's processed. The outside bran is intact, thus it preserve its fiber, mineral and vitamins. It also contains omega 3 & omega 6 fatty acids. It has higher content in fiber and nutrition than white rice because white rice has been stripped off its nutrients during the process of removing the outer bran.

If you have switched from white rice to brown rice to increase the nutrition value in your diet, you have made a good choice. It you are looking to further improve the quality of your diet, consider adding or mixing some portion of black rice into your whole grain meal.

Here is the partial comparison of nutritional value.

The Nutritional Value Per 1/3 Cup Serving

Ingredients Black Rice Brown Rice
Calories 200  226 
Carbohydrate 43g 47g
Fiber 3g 2g
Protein 6g 5g
Fat 2g 2g
Zinc 8% 8%
Phosphorus 20% 20%
Iron 6% 5%

Buying Black Rice


Nature's Earthly Choice All Natural 100% Whole Grain Black Rice


Chinese Black Rice, 1 lb.


Village Harvest Heirloom Chinese Black Rice - 4 Lb/64 Oz



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